What Happened? (to my blog)

When I started this blog in January of 2016, politics was still fun. The Democrats were in the process of anointing Kween Hillary and the Republican situation resembled the closing scene from Reservoir Dogs. I bought this domain, named it after my neighborhood, and used it as a creative outlet on Sunday afternoons to write whatever came to mind, whether it was amateur punditry or long form dad jokes

But then, it all came crashing down.

On election night, as I walked home from a viewing party at a polling firm (note: never watch election returns with pollsters again) I thought about this blog. What direction would I take it? Would I write my own Democratic Autopsy? Would I wallow in gallows humor and write faux Onion headlines every time Trump did something un-presidential? (Little did I know they’d write themselves).

In the end, I would do none of the above. Over the next 12 months I started and abandoned more posts than your cousin Anthony who is always telling you that this project is the one that will make him millions. I would stare at this cursed blinking cursor and think, “What is the point?”

See, during the election, even though everything that occurred was borderline insane, the general rules of politics still somewhat applied. I could write about what Bernie’s attacks meant for Hillary and it was possible I could be right. I could muse about the future of the Republican party or vent about their absent dissent and it was possible things could turn around.

Now though, with Trump in the Oval Office taking a metaphorical dump on every custom, rite, and moral obligation of the office, I find myself with a chronic case of terminal writer’s block.

Why even bother writing about the insanity of something as banal as the president having not held a solo press conference in over a year when it’s been less than two weeks since we found out his lawyer paid a porn star $130,000 weeks before the election to cover up an affair he had while his wife was with his newborn son and yet the story has disappeared like an untethered umbrella in a hurricane.

I mean holy jumping jacks. Obama’s tan suit garnered more outrage from couches at Fox News than that story did on all three networks combined!

Why even bother writing about how the rollout of the “infrastructure package” has become an inside-the-beltway running joke when during the same week Trump used a school shooting where 17 students were murdered in their classrooms to blast the FBI over their Russia investigation and then proceeded to not only only spend less than 15 minutes with victims at a hospital, but made a picture of himself smiling with them and giving a thumbs up his Twitter banner and no-one batted an eye.

Each of those first stories are something I would have whisked up 700 words in a heartbeat on were it about President Clinton or President (–insert generic Republican–). “What are the merits of shielding your boss from the press?” “Does a nationwide tour with landmark speeches in ‘real America’ really help sell a spending package to Congress?” Discuss.

But hush money to porn stars? Using dead school children as a political axe against the FBI? I need a drink,  not a keyboard.

The English language only has so many words. Unprecedented. Insane. Arrogant. Unqualified. Embarrassing. Disgusting. Shocking. Dangerous.

When those words are peppered throughout every op-ed, every editorial page, every Congressional tweet, even every non-biased news article, they lose their meaning.

How many more times can I open the Outlook Section of the Sunday Washington Post and suffer through another thousand words about how the previous week was the craziest week ever recorded?

I can barely muster a halfhearted “Yeah, crazy, huh?” to my co-workers in response to the daily push notifications revealing the latest episode of Veep  White House scandal, much less sit down and try and process what it means.

I sincerely hope this Trump thing is nothing more than a two century old nation having a teenage rebellion crisis. That maybe we’ll stop at dyeing our hair pink and wise up before going for the neck tattoo.

I know while reading this that a handful of you in The Resistance will be thinking that silence and acceptance will further normalize it all and that in fact continually calling it like it is will someday make a difference.  In a way, I agree with you. To ignore it all would be to cede that “politics” is lost and “Trumpism” is a new normal. But when porn star hush money can’t crack the news cycle, what can?

Trump is exhausting.

As The Intercept’s James Risen recently put it, the problem with Trump is that he is too transparent. He is so obviously in over his head. He is so obviously a scumbag, a blowhard, a closet-racist, and a lifetime con-artist, that when you take the time to make the case people look at you like, “Did you really need 2,000 words to tell me that water is wet?”

There is no nuance to him, no second layer of the onion.  There will never be any thought pieces about what in his life motivated his passion for criminal justice reform. No interviews with careful analysis on how to balance civil liberties with national security.  No speech he will ever give will leave anyone in tears. Nothing.

As an amateur writer and weekend blogger, I’m not getting paid for my thoughts. My motivation is purely driven by the events of the week and my passion for what I’m writing about. I don’t have a desk and a research team and ten hours a day of dedicated writing time. I don’t have a morning production meeting to formulate ideas and flesh out new angles.

I just have this laptop with an increasingly shorter battery life, a fantastic chair (shout out to West Elm), and whatever time on Sundays I think is better spent in that chair with that laptop than on a golf course.

How do you continue to play a game when a garbage truck just ran over your ball? How do you make yourself heard when every sentence feels like whispering into a jet engine? How do you make sense of three different 1,000 piece puzzles all titled “Blue Sky” handed to you in the same box?

If anyone has any sage advice, I’m all ears.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

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7 Days in November.

So here we are. One more week. Seven more merciful days until we can put this freakshow election behind us. With conflicting polls and the FBI leaking like a $20 yacht in a hurricane, the only sure bet at this point is that there will be a library’s worth of books written on how in the hell Donald Trump managed to almost (knocking on everything wooden in sight) become president.

I’m a political junkie, but his race has just about done it for me.  Every day I see a headline that makes me furrow my brow and shake my head.  I wouldn’t ever fall for the clickbait if it weren’t for the need to stay informed and literate in political discussions at work.

Ever since CNN poured $50 million into political coverage a year ago, facts and rationale have taken a back seat to ratings and drama. But it goes beyond “reality news” stations like CNN and Fox. Just the other day The Hill ran a headline that said “Ex-FBI official calls the Clintons a crime family.”  I mean good God, The Hill is supposed to be a sane policy rag and even they have succumbed to reporting comments that shouldn’t be repeated outside of the parlor.

When people say that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have run the nastiest election in modern memory, they’re wrong.  Donald Trump has run the nastiest election in history.

Trump normalized “loser” as a political adjective. Trump made it so that we’re no longer shocked by headlines that say “A 5th accuser comes forward.”  Trump created a toxic environment where in the land of the free he calls for his opponent to be jailed and openly uses the word “criminal” to describe her.  Remember, this is a contest where the loser goes back to their house, not to the gallows.

Here we are, America, and a week before the election and you have liberals wearing shirts that say “Nasty Woman” and conservatives changing their Twitter handles to “Deplorable Dan.”  The thing is, I think Clinton is right that a good handful of Trump supporters are deplorable people, but the fact that it is a phrase used by a candidate for president about another candidate’s supporters demonstrates what a sad state of affairs this is.

We are all flying the same flag, right?

Remember when everyone freaked out in 2012 because Romney called half of Obama supporters poor?  Is it wrong that I yearn for a time when closed door, off-the-cuff comments about voting patterns based on economic status was the worst gaffe a politician could make?

Trump created this new environment. Opinions used to have to be vetted before they made it to a national audience. Uncouth comments used to get a candidate banished. Now they’re paraded across the screen in promos for The Situation Room.

No matter how many fact-checking chryons CNN employs while they air Trump’s comments, the damage is done just by sharing them.  People see “Clinton is a criminal” in quotes next to a CNN logo and boom, now they’re telling their neighbors that Clinton should be in jail. Sounds too simple? Talk to some of the people in Kansas, Florida, and New York that I have over the past year.

Yes, the media has an obligation to report the day’s events, so of course there is the argument that even if Trump says something crazy, they need to air it.  That is wrong.

If Trump says “my opponent is a criminal who should be jailed” then airing that quote is making that sound like it could be true.  A recent poll showed that 40% of Georgia Republicans think Hillary and Bill were legitimately involved in murders to hide criminal activity.  Trust me, Washington is way more VEEP than House of Cards.

But alas, I digress.  After the dust settles on this mess we can discuss the media’s culpability in this disaster until pigs fly.  We probably won’t even be done by then.

What I really want to understand here, is were these nationalist feelings and hate always present in America and we just never knew it?  How can a process usually dominated by lifelong public servants debating issues devolve into a grade school food fight with one candidate shouting “no you’re the puppet!” over the other during a debate in front of 70 million people.  If I did that in front of 10 people I’d be mortified, much less 20% of the entire country.

How can 40% of my fellow Americans be duped–willingly or blindly–into supporting the single worst candidate for president, ever.

Never have so many conservative papers endorsed a Democrat. Never have so many papers made their first ever endorsement. And never have so many papers dis-endorsed a candidate before.  This isn’t because Hillary is the Messiah, but because Trump is a fear mongering moron with no respect for anything but himself.

This election and its tired coverage has reduced our nation to two even more divided camps than we were before. But, it’s no longer about Democrat vs Republican but rather sane folk vs Trump supporters. How can someone vote for the sober, Mormon Romney and the war hero McCain and then suddenly side with Donald “grab ‘em by the pussy” Trump?  Have our national morals been corrupted that badly?

Back in January before the Iowa caucuses I wrote in my original blog for this site that Trump was running a campaign of fear and had galvanized those who feared “the other.”  I wrote how this was a powerful, terrifying message, but that in the long run, hope always dominated over fear and despair.

With 7 days remaining, and polls that require me to put new sheets on my bed each morning, I can only pray that I’m right.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

Photo credit: HILL STREET STUDIOS VIA GETTY IMAGES

A Debate Primer For Your Sanity

I sat down this weekend with the intention of writing about tonight’s debate and what to expect.  But let’s be honest, its simple.  Trump will say whatever comes to his mind, whether right, wrong, fictitious, or absurd and Clinton will be hamstrung to defend herself. Democracy!

Instead I bring you this preview to what will inevitably increase attendance at AA meetings across the country next week.

Early prediction (based on CNN advertising):

  • Trump and Hillary will each arrive in sequined robes. Trump will decline to weigh in and instead declare that “My weight is phenomenal, truly tremendous.”  Gary Johnson will then rush the stage and bite off part of Clinton’s ear.

How Clinton will win: 

  • She must do the oral equivalent of walking across a Vaseline soaked tightrope, in a hurricane, while wearing ice skates, and after taking 10 shots of Trump Vodka.

How Trump will win:

  • He must not vomit, defecate, or die on stage.

What Clinton will wear:

  • Black suit.  Red power tie.  Flag Pin.  Frank Underwood’s cuff-links.

On fact checking:

  • CNN will fact check, but will then allow Ana Navarro and Corey Lewandowski to debate each “fact.”
  • Fox’s fact checking will be done by Rudy Giuliani.
  • MSNBC will stop fact checking after their team resigns due to exhaustion 10 seconds into Trump’s opening statement.

Drink whenever Clinton says: 

  • “We are stronger together.”

Drink whenever Trump says:

  • “I’ll hire the best people to look into that.”

Finish your drink if: 

  • Someone in the audience shouts “RIP HARAMBE!” during a pause in the action.

You know what, just start drinking now.

If you’re seeking accurate information:

  • Skip this debate and wait for the SNL version next weekend.

How we’ll be saved:

  • CNN’s countdown clock will freeze at 0:00:03 and no activity shall ever commence until its CNN countdown clock has hit 0:00:00.

Late prediction:

  • The Commission on Presidential Debates will have a person whose sole job is to cover Lester Holt’s mouth when Trump declares that “Hillary Clinton not only founded ISIL, but she actually piloted all four planes on 9/11.”

 

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

“Hillary Clinton, meet Don Draper.”

This election has been the darkest in my lifetime. Gone are candidates of hope and from Hope. Gone too are the traditional norms of campaigns. The Republican candidate has bought less air time than companies who sell catheters and the Democratic candidate seems fixated on running a traditional campaign come hell or high water.

The most effective ad of this cycle was the Hillary Clinton ad titled “Role Models” which featured many of Trump’s vociferous soundbites paired with images of impressionable doe-eyed elementary schoolers seemingly watching in paralyzed awe.  The ad was brilliant in its ability to elicit emotion from the viewer, and without stating the obvious put in context what it would be like if Oval Office addresses basically turn into an oral YouTube comment section.

In addition, in this hyper-saturated political climate, ads also serve as a discussion topic for the morning-afternoon-evening-night shows.  An ad may only be played durng commercials in Ohio, but CNN will replay it countless times in order to ask their army of commentators to err, comment.

With that in mind, there are three ads Clinton needs to run to change the game, and namely the conversation.  First, she needs to take a fun, light, and unique approach.  This election has become overly serious and the mere mention of “Clinton” or “Trump” is enough to make most people wish they had taken a Dramamine. Second, she needs another hit like “Role Models” to contextualize Trump’s unfitness. And third, she needs a raw emotional appeal to the Rust Belt.

  • “Everywhere”

The spot opens with the required “I approve this message” bit so that the end effect isn’t ruined. As the federally mandated portion fades out, the opening notes of Johnny Cash’s version of  “I’ve been everywhere man” begin. dum dum dum DUM dum DUM.  

As the lyrics start, quick (¾ second) images of regular plain Jane Hillary Clinton smiling with folks of every color in the rainbow at county fairs, malls, fields, rallies, and little league games all across the country flash on the screen to the beat.  The images would appear match the cities being named, if only to bait the Washington Post into assigning a reporter to fact-check each image.

The ad finishes with a 3 second shot of her lone campaign bus driving on a two lane road through corn fields with “Strong Together” branded across the screen.

This ad is effective because even back when Choice Hotels ran an ad with this song, I would always turn my head when it came on in almost a Pavlovian response to the infectious guitar.  Once eyes are on the screen, viewers will be barraged with a fun and lively Hillary, in contrast to the dark and ominous Donald we have come to know.

  • “Legacy”

This ad features short clips of presidents from FDR through Obama during impactful speeches they made. The run of show would open with FDR and continue chronologically:

    1. FDR: “This day, will live in infamy”
    2. Kennedy in Berlin: “Ich bin ein Berliner”
    3. LBJ’s “We Shall Overcome” speech
    4. Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”
    5. Clinton speech to families of the Oklahoma City bombing victims
    6. Bush after 9/11: “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and soon, the people that knocked down these towers will hear from all of us.”
    7. Obama at the memorial service for the Charleston shooting victims: “As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind.”
    8. Donald Trump: “blood coming of her ears, blood coming out her whatever.”
      1. Screen cuts to snow, rewinds, shows last second of Obama then…
    9. Hillary Clinton finishing her remarks at the DNC

This ad is effective because the first 7 clips illustrate the immense power of the presidential bully pulpit.  They remind people that their choice as president is not only a choice on policy but a choice for the face of the nation.  American presidents have enormous consequence on the world and they often do so through addressing the nation in times of crisis or doubt.

The final clips featuring Trump after President Obama’s remarks in Charleston contrasts a president who bears the responsibility of healing and empathy so personally with someone who shoots verbal bullets from the hip and cares not who he offends.

  • “Hands”

Two workers nearing retirement age, dressed blue jeans and a tucked in shirt, with just enough belly to make you picture them sitting on a porch swing, address the camera through a black and white lens. In between full body shots of them talking, the ad focuses on their hands, calloused and worn, evidence of a lifetime of work.  They explain how contracts for buildings were their lifeblood, how it paid for their kid’s college tuition and for the roof above their head.  Then they raise the point that businessmen like Trump who voided contracts or failed to pay brought businesses like theirs to ruin.

The ad ends with a closeup shot of the man’s hands in his lap going from clasped to open as one does in defeat as his voice can be heard saying “When you trust someone and they stiff you, as the little guy, what can you do?”

Each of these ads are effective in a different way.  The first as a lighthearted interruption, a song that everyone recognizes will certainly make heads turn as it begins. The second would be widely played on CNN and spark conversations about how Trump is viewed as a symbol of America. And finally, the third will remind voters of the little people Trump has made pavement out of on his march to celebrity.

Ads don’t win elections, but they have the power to change conversations and drive narratives.  The infamous “Windsurfing” ad against John Kerry in 2004 devastatingly cemented him as a flip-flopper and made him a target of mockery.

After an especially bad week, where Clinton is on the defense for her own errors and those out of her control, a well crafted, clever advertising campaign could shift the conversation back to where she wants it.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

Another Faux Scandal. Sigh.

The Associated Press ran a widely mocked article last week that basically claimed being a Clinton Foundation donor was a prerequisite to getting a meeting with the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.  They used an absurd definition of “meeting” and then failed to present any other context for those meetings other than the existence of a donation. It would be like saying that I love Disney World because I once travelled to Orlando, while omitting that my grandparents live there, too.  Or in the case of one of those donors who met with Clinton, he was also a Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Gold Medal, and Nobel Prize winner.

Republicans are also crying foul that Clinton took meetings with billionaires like Bill and Melinda Gates as well as CEOs of the large financial institutions instead of average Americans.  The media reports these meetings as if there is a scandal there. There isn’t. Not even close.

In fact, this shouldn’t be a story at all. This is the way Washington works. No, not because it is corrupt, but because to make and execute good policy, you need the players on board who are not only experts, but have the means to help.  

Take Clinton’s meeting with Nancy Mahon of MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by cosmetics giant Estee Lauder.  They had given to the Clinton Foundation and were also involved in a public/private partnership with the State Department to fight AIDS and gender discrimination in South Africa, something the MAC Cosmetics group had worked on previously.  

Now ask yourself, who would be a better person for Clinton to meet with? Someone who runs a charity similar the program the State Department wants to start, or your buddy Tim who has strong opinions on poor people in Africa?

The same goes for her meetings with Wall Street CEOs.  The US Government works with these large financial institutions on all sorts of issues.  Internationally, they are partners in hunting down financial criminals, routing out terror financing networks, and instituting sanctions.  Clinton isn’t meeting with Jamie Dimon because he gave money to her husband’s foundation, she is meeting with him because the government needs JP Morgan.  

Same question, who would be a better person for Clinton to meet with on global financial issues? The guy who runs JP Morgan, or your neighbor Bill who thinks he’s cleverly saving money by only paying the minimum balance on his credit card?

Working for a member of Congress I have seen this firsthand.  Meetings with CEOs didn’t take place because of donations, they took place because if you want something done, you talk to the person in charge. If the power grid in the state needs fixing, you call the utility CEO, not the technician who has written a few Facebook posts about the government keeping their hands off of his Social Security.

It is no different with celebrities either. Matt Damon doesn’t get a meeting because he has good ideas (maybe he does, who knows), he gets a meeting because the picture of him with the member (and therefore the issue) will be retweeted and garner attention.

The reason these points aren’t articulated on the news is because the pundits and anchors are a part of this giant circle of influence.  Wolf Blitzer and Andrea Mitchell dine with senators and CEOs.  David Gergen worked for four presidents and is on a first name basis with most of Washington.  Mark Halperin is the son of Nixon aide Morton Halperin and was born into the DC hierarchy.  Nearly every person you see on television discussing how scandalous Clinton’s meetings are has been a direct player in that exact system their whole career. There aren’t nearly enough pots and kettles in the world for this scenario.

I’ve been in the green room during each of the four Sunday shows and have watched how the members of Congress and pundits interact, how they chat about their most recent dinner party and their kids and share their two cents on Donald Trump and his tiny hands.  Then they go on air, pretend they don’t know each other and discuss what “average voters” want to hear from Hillary.  

The business, political, and media world don’t exist in a vacuum.  All the players know each other, work with each other, and give money to each other.  The presence of a donation doesn’t signify anything beyond the dollar amount on the check. Much like Woody and Buzz watching Andy pack his boxes without them, the news anchors and pundits must stay silent on their true place in the Washington arena, otherwise the jig would be up.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

Photo Credit: (BBC)

The Donald vs The Media. Who Ya Got?

Since successfully emasculating Chris Christie into serfdom, dueling Paul Ryan to a draw, and hypnotizing Marco Rubio into supporting him, Donald Trump has finally settled on his newest target of bombast.  The media.

Regardless of his ire, the media is the lifeblood of his campaign.  It is estimated he has received over $2 billion in free air time and he has spent less on advertising than Green Party candidate Jill Stein. During a recent interview with the Washington Post, he famously stopped the interview 5 times – including mid-sentence – to stare at the TV and comment on himself.  He is like a dog who barks at a squirrel while you’re trying to get it to sit.  And lately he has been doing a lot of barking.

To hear Trump tell it, in the past week he has been the victim of two media conspiracies to make him look bad after he said a couple completely innocuous words.  First was his apparent reference to encourage assassinating Hillary Clinton and the second was his declaration that President Obama “founded ISIS.” But the media was wrong Trump says, the Clinton comment was “sarcasm” and merely meant to encourage Second Amendment supporters to shoot vote and the Obama comment wasn’t literal, obviously.

The media has such a sensitive gag reflex to his quotes because he has developed a reputation as a caricature of a dictator where it isn’t far-fetched to assume he could intend something as incendiary as an allusion to assassination.  

Remember, the media doesn’t operate in a vacuum. They have chronicled Trump’s history. They live for continuing narratives. If Mitt Romney had said either of those things, the spin wouldn’t have been the same because he didn’t have the same track record that Trump does.  

Unlike Romney, Trump repeatedly employed thinly veiled dog-whistles during the primaries to gin up support among blue collar white voters such as when he played funny with the endorsement of the KKK by pretending to not know who David Duke was.  The media was suspect his explanation of that incident and they will continue to be with others like it.

This style of reporting on the Trump campaign also extends beyond Trump himself.

For example, Trump surrogate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is currently backpedaling at Olympic speed for saying that the United States suffered no terror attacks in the eight years preceding the Obama presidency.  The media jumped it because on its face it is an absurd and insultingly false comment.  Giuliani, after all, was the mayor of New York City on 9/11 and can (hopefully) do math to realize that that is less than eight years prior to Obama.

What upsets Trumpians is that if one looks at Giuliani’s full remarks, only a couple minutes before the quote in question he had mentioned that 9/11 was a foreign attack on U.S. soil during a time of Republican leadership, thus clearly Giuliani was taken out of context.

So is Trump right? Is the media treating him unfairly?

The short answer is that no, they are not.

The media doesn’t think that Giuliani has forgotten when 9/11 was. They are aghast at him for the absurdity of the remark because he and his fellow Trump mouthpieces are so willing to say literally anything to hurt the president and Hillary Clinton that they don’t consider fact, history, or reason before speaking. 

Presidential campaign speeches and talking points used to be some of the most highly vetted words ever spoken, but Trump’s campaign and its surrogates are employing the same vetting process as your drunk cousin at Thanksgiving.  

As I mentioned earlier, Trump and his surrogate’s quotes get written about from an angle of seriousness and shock because he has previously acted in such a way to make those quotes seem intentional.  If a Mormon missionary is found at the scene of a crime, he is much more likely to get the benefit of the doubt than someone who has a rap sheet the length of a CVS receipt.

The other reason that the media treats obviously false statements like “Obama founded ISIS” with such intensity is that Trump says them to play to the whims of conspiracy theory junkies.  Just as Trump’s hesitancy to disavow David Duke was seen as a nod to southern whites, the Obama-ISIS quote was seen as a nod towards those who don’t believe Obama is a patriot.  If the media gives him a pass on these “hint-hint” style allegations, they’d view themselves as abdicating their duty to not perpetuate ugly conspiracies and flat out lies.

The final point is that the media mostly just repeats verbatim what Trump says. They don’t have to skew opinion one way or another because just simply saying “Trump said” and playing the tape does a pretty good job of getting the point across.  President Obama made this point at a fundraiser for Clinton recently saying “I don’t have to make the case against [Trump] because every time he talks, he makes the case against his own candidacy.”

As long as Trump keeps holding press conferences, the media will continue to cover him with skepticism, shock, and dueling panels of “experts.”  Trump can either adapt and save his campaign or continue on his path and save money on confetti and balloons.

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU

Photo Credit: (Getty Images)

Here Comes Hillary, Champion of Children!

If you had never heard of Hillary Clinton before the start of the Democratic convention, then first of all, you’re probably an alien, and second of all, you’d probably be surprised to learn that everyone else knows her as a Secretary of State, not as a lifelong champion and advocate for children and families.  

The first act of Clinton’s campaign was centered on the thesis that she should be president because she is the single most qualified human on earth for the job. She had served as a senator and a Secretary of State and was successful at both. But last week in Philadelphia, the Clinton campaign began rolling out Hillary Clinton version 2.0, who is a lifelong fighter for women and children and oh, also happened to serve as Secretary of State.

This rebranding was a deliberate choice driven primarily by voting demographics.  The campaign knows that their odds of winning white men are about the same as you finding that m&m you dropped between the driver’s seat and center console of your Honda.  Trump is up roughly thirty points with white men and there is little looking back.  Her negative ratings with them are approaching 70% which believe it or not, is higher than Trump’s unfavorable with women.

The is mostly because the Republicans have successfully defined her time as Secretary of State as a period branded by Benghazi and her use of a private email server.  They have kept Benghazi in the news for nearly 5 years now and spent $7 million on the latest investigation by the House.  Embassies had been attacked before and never produced vitriol like this and even the 9/11 report stopped short of 500 pages. But nevertheless, Republicans wanted Clinton to be the Benghazi candidate.

As a result, the area where she can draw the biggest contrast and make the most gains is with women.  Trump has a long record of offensive statements towards women and has done literally nothing for their benefit his entire life.

Although, knowing Trump he’d probably tell you that he built the best kitchens in his buildings so women should thank him accordingly.

Branding Clinton as a lifelong fighter for women and children may be a strategic choice, but it has-as Henry Kissinger once said-the added advantage of also being true. She has truly made it her life’s work.  She started working on behalf of families after college and continued after she and Bill moved to Arkansas. Most notably as First Lady she worked towards passing comprehensive healthcare reform and eventually helped to ensure the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Reminding people of this is important because politicians are brands like Coke or Toyota before anything else. They are fighters, advocates, winners, and leaders first and human beings second.

Trump has mastered his brand. He is anti-pc. He is Roundup weed killer mixed with Everclear and if you have too much, you’ll wake up finding out you drunk texted your boss, but you won’t apologize.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is McDonald’s.  She is a juggernaut and known quantity and Benghazi was her “Super Size Me.”  The Democratic Convention last week was the roll out of Clinton as white meat chicken, salads, and apples in Happy Meals.

If the Democratic convention’s rebranding was successful, Clinton will see a sustained rise in her numbers as voters look to connect with a sensitive, empathetic family advocate who is oil to Trump’s water.

After all, General Motors saw their sales turn around partly as a result of their rebranding Buick that saw people no longer viewing Buick as their grandfather’s car, but as a symbol of new, young luxury.  Will Clinton share the same fate?

Follow on Twitter @EighteenthandU