What I feared would happen, has happened.
One of the most important aspects of a presidency is message discipline and control. Now, I’m not speaking of some Orwellian type of message manipulation, but the ability of a presidential administration to guide the news cycle and theme in a positive manner.
It also boosts confidence in the presidency. On Monday evening, President Trump delivered a very astute and solid address defining his doctrine in confronting militant Islamic jihadism — specifically his strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia.
In just twenty-five minutes, President Trump gave a coherent and concise strategy that will enable subordinate military commanders to develop their operational and tactical strategies and plans. However, Tuesday night, in an hour-plus rant, President Trump, once again, undermined his own message to the point where no one — just 24 hours later — is talking about Afghanistan.
Yes, I know the Phoenix rally had been planned, but the question has to be asked: Why?
Was Phoenix supposed to be about attacking the two Republican senators there, and a discussion about pardoning Arizona Sheriff Joe Arapaio? Who came up with the idea that it was necessary to do a campaign-style rally in Phoenix?
And, I must be honest: Why do you need a campaign rally just seven months into your administration? A presidential administration with a sound communications plan is able to direct the media in the way it wishes. They’re able to establish policy and proposals, and continue to stay on message and theme, until they move to the next important policy issue. That’s how one marries up policy and communications into a focused strategy.
Yes, I know, the media hates President Trump. Well, when you know the enemy hates you, don’t make it easy for them to ambush you. As we say in the military, never go into a u-shaped ambush.
Here’s what I would have recommended to the president: After the prime time national security address, follow it up in Phoenix and reinforce its message. I would have presented two themes for the speech in Phoenix: economics and national security. Speak in deeper detail about what was said in Ft. Myer, as well as Trump’s vision and policies for economic growth.
Now, perhaps the crowd would have been disappointed — but that night should not have been about giving the crowd a show; it was about conveying a message, a theme, a policy vision.
Instead, we wake up today and what we find dominating the news cycle are the attacks on Arizona senators, the threat to shut down the government over “the wall” and a New York Times article about a shouting match between Trump and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.
The last item is reflective of the fact there’s still a leaking problem in the White House. There are even stories about how Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, wife of Sen. Mitch McConnell, was asked about her loyalties — whether she was loyal to the president or to her husband.
Now the stock market is opening down and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is sounding off about President Trump being mentally incapable to be President — and therefore should be impeached.
The Left is always going to trot out that absurdity, but if the Trump Administration were on message and focused, these assertions by the Left would have no credibility, even in their own circles. After all, James Clapper is another one of Obama’s stable of liars.
What’s maddening, and we must all be honest about this, is the continuous lack of stick-to-it-ness in the Trump White House. Instead of having laser-guided munition, they’re carpet bombing all over the place. At times, the Administration seems to be suffering from a form of adult ADD (attention deficit disorder). They’re the ones stepping on their own message, as has been repeated often.
I bring this up not to condemn or attack President Trump or his administration, but with a hope and prayer that they’ll listen and correct these unforced errors.
President Trump gave a magnificent address to the joint houses of Congress — even Van Jones gave him great credit — and the leftist media had no flank to assail. Then, just 72 hours later, he launched the Barack Obama-wiretapped-Trump Tower tweet.
President Trump delivered a phenomenal speech in Warsaw Poland and appeared to be the leader western civilization needed so badly — then he got played by Vladimir Putin after he spent over an hour meeting with him. That should have been a controlled 15-minute interlude.
I guess what we want from President Trump is more consistency and less emotion. We want a leader who leads with the power of his ideals, not social media browbeating — someone who can win people over so that we restore this constitutional republic.
I know, he’s from New York and he’s a businessman. Leaders adapt but they never relinquish their fundamental principles and values. President Trump must realize a very simple point: He won; he’s president. There’s no need to tell us about winning. There’s a need to deliver on his policy agenda, which means reminding us, in detail, what that policy agenda is.
It’s not about abdicating to the House and Senate by saying, “I’m sitting here at my desk; send me something for me to sign.” President Trump should be articulating the fundamentals of what he wants to sign.
This week should be about one thing: Following up on the Monday night prime time presidential address on Afghanistan. I counted eight important points in that speech; each day there should be a focus on one or two of those points. This is where the President could use Twitter — to elaborate on those ideas. I prefer him not to tweet, but if he’s indeed addicted to Twitter, then use it for a positive purpose: message proliferation.
But those social media posts need to be coordinated with the broader communications strategy in mind, because, as they say, “surprises are for birthdays.”
I want President Trump to succeed, but I’m not some starry-eyed sycophant that can’t see where things are going wrong. My question is simple: Does President Trump want to succeed? If so, sir, then straighten up and fly right. Discipline yourself.
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]