Trump is forgetting what made Trump successful. Trump is screwing up.
|Subject: Crazy? Just Unstable?|
The great truth of political messaging is that it is not who has the better argument in a debate. It is the subject of the debate.
We are seeing something new and bad for Trump.
Trump succeeds politically by using two techniques consistently. He asserts his positions adamantly, and therefore persuasively to many. And he changes the subject from one that is unwelcome to one that is welcome. Diversion.
The Trump formula: Deny, Pivot, Accuse.
It is a technique that works. It gives GOP officeholders something to say, it gives Fox News and talk radio focus.
|Fox quotes Trump. I'm not crazy.|
It works with GOP voters, too. Just this week, in a conversation about the tax bill's effect on higher income Oregonians (higher taxes) a friend said, "Well, maybe, but I want to know why isn't the FBI investigating Benghazi."
But this time Trump is doing the flat-footed move that Democrats have been doing to their peril. He is defending himself on the issue of being crazy. He is explaining. He is minimizing.
That puts his Fox defenders in the position of conceding the legitimacy of the point.
Fox host: "Trump is, let's face it, a bit of an enigmatic guy."
The crazy/chaos meme comes at a bad time for Trump. There is heightened talk that Trump will take a dramatic move regarding the Mueller investigation, based on the fact that A.G. Jeff Sessions was not invited to Camp David. The best message for Trump is for the focus to be on Mueller and the FBI: they are the issue, they are partisan, they need to be removed in the public interest. But the meme of Trump being childish and unstable puts the focus back on Trump and his motives.