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THE WEEK AHEAD
Chaos remain the order of the moment on the ground in Syria, with a Putin- Erdogan meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Russia, and the New York Times reporting that President Trump is planning to leave 200 or so military personnel in Syria.
The House impeachment investigators will hear from more witnesses, including Bill Taylor, who was the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Democrats look poised to go another week without (a) public hearings, (b) having a vote of the full House on proceeding with an official impeachment inquiry; and (c) defining the scope of any articles of impeachment.
The media will be watching closely to see if any more Republicans will distance themselves from the key person in their life – Donald Trump.
The media will be watching closely to see if Donald Trump distances himself from two key people in his life – Mick Mulvaney and Rudy Giuliani.
The acting White House chief of staff, fresh off of his press briefing and Fox News Sunday appearance, is likely to recede from public view, while Bloomberg reports:
“Some of Donald Trump’s closest associates are assembling a roster of possible replacements if the president decides to replace Mick Mulvaney, said three people close to the situation.
“Among those said to be on the list are former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and veteran political operative Wayne Berman, now a senior managing director for government relations at the Blackstone Group Inc.”
And Rudy Giuliani will also have to decide whether he keeps talking so much to the media, especially in light of a rare Sunday rebuke from the Justice Department, which is likely to hurt his business prospects.
Both Hillary Clinton and Tulsi Gabbarb will have to decide if they want to continue to escalate their extraordinary feud, which many Democratic strategists say is bad for the party (and good for the New York Post).
Now that you are prepared for this upcoming unpredictable week, take advantage of this brief Wild World of News to breathe in this entire essential reading New York Times story on the overwhelming mismatch between the Trump campaign and the Democrats in the realm of online digital strategy, tactics, and spending.
This well-reported article leaves the opposite impression from what most coverage of 2020, Trump, Washington, and the Democrats does.
The story makes clear that (a) Trump campaign topper Brad Parscale knows what he is doing; (b) online advertising and persuasion, including and especially on Facebook, make up a critical battlefield; (c) Democrats in general and the party’s presidential campaigns in particular are badly behind Team Trump in this realm.
In other words, despite the media acting like the president has no chance for reelection, he has a lot of advantages that suggest he will be hard to defeat.
Which is, of course, the through line of my forthcoming book, “How to Beat Trump: America’s Top Political Strategists On What It Will Take.”
As I write in the book, Trump has all of the traditional advantages of any incumbent American president, as well as some very specific Trumpian advantages.
The vast mismatch in digital sophistication, spending, and general election focus as documented in the Times is buttressed by quotes not from bragging Republicans, but from worried, sound-the-alarm Democrats.
In that way, it mirrors “How to Beat Trump,” in which the vast majority of the more than 75 Democratic strategists I interviewed for the book are quite concerned that the party’s nominee will not be up to the task of beating the incumbent.
As I suggested, the Times story is important in part because it is an aberration in the context of the coverage of Trump’s chances of winning in both 2016 and 2020.
As I write in the introduction of my book:
“Trump’s slow-burn war with the press also serves him in paradoxical ways. To be sure, elite journalists, collectively, are itching to see Trump fall. Cable television, in particular, churns out a 24/7 chronicle of the outrages of the administration and the man himself, with the story line pleading for his comeuppance.
“But the anti-Trump drumbeat in the print media and at CNN and MSNBC begets its own danger. Many Democratic strategists warn that once again the press, as it did four years ago, is creating a distorted impression that Trump cannot win. Throughout the 2016 cycle, the coverage of Trump—from his showman’s ride down his gilded escalator to announce his run, to his blustering, unwieldy performances in the debates—was laced with mockery and contempt, building a false confidence that Hillary Clinton, an obviously flawed candidate, was a shoo-in. Some of the voters, who were turned off by both candidates and did not feel like personally casting a ballot for Secretary Clinton, took a pass on the presidential race and then regretted the outcome.”
Like my book, the Times story is not pro- or anti-Trump. Listening to the voices of worried Democratic strategists, on what concerns them and what they think must be done to mitigate Trump’s advantages, generates reporting that says a lot about the actual state of the presidential race.
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