Trump: It’s The Ratings Stupid

In case you have not noticed, Donald Trump is not exactly a traditional president. That includes how he measures how well he is doing.

Trump is from the celebrity and reality TV worlds (pretty much the same thing, really). In those worlds, success is measured by how often you are mentioned in the press and the ratings your TV program receives. It really doesn’t matter whether people ‘like’ you, how high your public approval ratings are or even what the press is writing about you. If you are in the news every day, you are successful. Period.

That is why Trump cares about how many people come to events like his inauguration. If he has the largest attendance then he had the largest ratings, and he is the ‘best’ president. Period.

If a celebrity finds their press coverage lacking, they have their PR flack manufacture something to bring them some coverage. Trump is his own publicist and he is brilliant at it, having honed his skills in over 30 years of sparring with New York’s celebrity press.

When Trump feels his ratings going down, he sends out a few tweets. Boom – he is back in the headlines and back on top.

The celebrity  press understands this game, but the political press is still trying to figure it out. Trump has completely broken their reporting model and until they come up with a new one he will continue to be a star and write his own headlines.

 

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Super Sarah Sanders

Sarah Sanders is running circles around the White House press corps and they have no idea what to do about it. For all of Donald Trump’s faults, he hit one out of the park when he hired her.

Every day the White House press tries to press her on something controversial that Trump tweeted or some dysfunction within his administration. There is no shortage of either. Yet Sanders is able to dodge, weave and deflect, many of the times turning the tables on the press corps.

For example, when queried as to whether a Trump comment that a senator would “do anything” for campaign contributions was implying sex, Sanders admonished the reporter to get her mind out of the gutter. Touche!

To be honest, as good as Sanders is, her job really isn’t all that hard and is probably a lot of fun. The White House press corps needs a through shakeup. They are where they are because they climbed the professional ladder and finally got to the job where they get invited to the right parties and have some status, and they are probably not a little bit full of themselves.

In addition, they are used to the formal White House press ritual that team Trump has absolutely no respect for. They are playing by the old rules and Sanders is playing by Trump rules. Until they news agencies ship some reporters with experience covering reality TV and celebrities, Sanders will continue to kick their butts.

The Clinton Standard

Since when did the Clintons become the standard for propriety in politics? The latest news is that Hillary Clinton intervened to keep an accused of sexual harasser on her staff when he was about to fired. The implication is that the #metoo crowd should back off, because even Hillary tolerated harassers.

Well, duh. She’s the person who excused her husband when he cheated on her with a young intern named Lewinsy.¬† In fact, she aggressively defended him.

But here is the thing. The Republicans have spent the last 30 years telling us how corrupt and slimy the Clintons are. So telling us that even the Clintons cheat, lie, steal, etc. is not the best way to say that it is ok to do it. We are not really talking about Ghandi or Mother Terresa here.

The truth is that the Clintons are an excellent straw man. Bill is an admitted adulterer / harasser yet has high approval ratings – ergo, other harassers that aren’t as popular also should be able to get away with it.

Hillary doesn’t have Bill’s high approval ratings, but she is living in some kind of alternate reality. She fancies herself a politician and is easily drawn into the fray. But the truth is that she is a great policy wonk but a terrible politician, constantly making decisions without understanding how they will play out politically, such as defending harassers or ignoring advice not to use a personal email server.

The best thing she could do for the Democrats would be to declare that she is a flawed individual who should not be a standard for anything, and fade away from politics. A true politician would realize this. Unfortunately, she is not a politician.

Where’s My Purse?

Getting ready to go out with a friend yesterday, she was frantically looking for her backpack purse. “Did you see it? I hope I didn’t leave it somewhere . . .”

I let her search for a few more minutes before I kindly pointed out that it was on her back.purse

“Ohhh. Hmm. Ok, ready to go now.”

I have seen this movie before, but it still makes me laugh.

 

The Self-Driving Future: Part 4

So I am driving down the highway in my self driving car and the driver in the next lane pulls a bonehead lane change. We crash. Who is liable?

Of course the self driving car should be smart enough to avoid bonehead moves by other drivers? But how smart? What will the standard be?

On the one hand, the self driving car would probably have a camera recording everything that happens around it, and would be able to show the cops and insurance company the reckless and probably illegal move the other car made that ‘could not be avoided’.

On the other hand, the manual driver might say, “Look, maybe it was an idiot move, but people make idiot moves all the time – that’s part of driving. An alert driver would have been able to avoid an accident and your self driving car is obviously not as good as an alert manual driver.” Sue the manufacturer.

Inventively there will be horror stories in the press about people with unexpected hits on their insurance due to self-driving crashes. Eventually, the government, the lawyers and the insurance companies will work it out. But until they do, look for many folks to be reluctant to turn on the autopilot.