1) America is becoming desensitized to how outrageous Donald Trump is as a major party candidate for president. As Chris Hayes observed the other day, when it is every day that a candidate says or does something atrocious, people stop noticing. The media have “normalized” the grotesquely abnormal. It’s important to keep Trump’s gross unfitness for the office before the public’s eyes, to keep people’s awareness fresh.
2) Back a few months ago, there was one Democrat who demonstrated a consistent ability to get under the Donald’s skin, provoke him to respond, and then clearly best him in the ensuing exchange. That Democrat was Senator Elizabeth Warren.
So here’s a message to Senator Warren, and/or to the Hillary Clinton campaign, the two actors best able to make something valuable and important happen: i.e., to get Elizabeth Warren to embark on a campaign to play picador to Donald Trump’s bull.
What Senator Warren should do is:
- Get a good media strategy in place, so that her attacks on Trump get attention from the outset. Khizr Kahn’s powerful speech would not have had anything near the impact it did if it had not been delivered at a time and place where the media and the public were paying attention. Senator Warren’s previous tweet-battles with Trump got attention because of the skillfulness with which she skewered him (and because of her prominence as a political figure). That can work again, but it would be good if it could be supplemented with effective PR.
- Compose messages – tweets and/or other forms – that have two virtues: 1) they expose Trump’s defects so effectively that to let them stand unchallenged would be devastating to Trump, and 2) they are so provocative that Trump will be drawn into battle. During Trump’s week-long exchange with the Khans, it seemed almost as if he was compelled to respond, as if he couldn’t help himself. Elizabeth Warren should be able to bait Trump into counter-attacking against “Pocahontas.”
- If Trump does respond, then best him in the exchange, as she did in her earlier confrontations with Trump. Respond in ways that help to underscore the original critique, and expand the exposure of Trump’s moral and political defects, amounting to an unfitness for the presidency. Elizabeth Warren has shown that she is more than his match in a duel of words.
Senator Warren can thus put Trump into a lose-lose situation: he loses if he lets her widely publicized critique stand, and he loses if he is drawn into battle with her.
And Hillary’s bid for the presidency wins by making those Trump defects a focus of national attention.
The bull is in the ring. Stick it to him Elizabeth.