Posted by: George | October 24, 2016


My one-sentence review of Karl Ove Kanausgaard’s My Struggle, which is a novel published in six volumes with something like 3,600 pages:

It’s like reality television for hipsters who like to read.

[In case you are wondering, I am in volume 2, page 101, feeling a little despair about my stamina to finish it. I need some hipster mojo.]

Posted by: George | October 12, 2016

The 2016 Presidential Election as Satire

It is hard to figure out how to keep from being clinically depressed about the 2016 presidential election. I don’t mean fashionably depressed. I mean clinically depressed.

Trump, the Republican nominee, brags about sexual assault and then defends himself by parading four women who have allegedly been sexually harassed by Bill Clinton into a press conference, minutes before the second debate. So, women who might have been sexually exploited by Bill Clinton turn to Donald Trump as their hero and protector. Pour me a scotch, neat.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, cannot emerge from email scandals. Her server, wiki-leaks, whatever. She apologizes, she explains, she diverts, and she cannot wash off the stink. One of her diversions is to be morally outraged about Trump disrespecting women, but then there is Bill. Make it a Bourbon on this one.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, would be an option, if he knew what Aleppo is, or if he could name one leader of a foreign country. Stab me in the eye with needles.

Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, would be an option, if you are an anti-vaxer and concerned about radiation from Wi-Fi. Just shoot me, please.

So, wherever you start on the political spectrum, whichever way you go, you are probably going to want to vote and then take a long shower. That’s a healthy response. If you are excited about any of these candidates, you might want to seek therapy.

So, is there a way we can get through this?

Maybe, we need to start thinking about this election as an extended and brilliant work of satire. Who wrote this satire? Don’t know. Maybe it is intelligent design. But, I would argue it’s there. If you look for it, you will see satire.

Satire pushes the boundaries. It questions values that we generally consider to be beyond question. Satire is like taking all of our values—even ones we cherish—and throwing them all into an emotional freefall. All values are questioned. Some of them are discarded, if we view them as stale and outmoded. And some are reaffirmed.

It is this part that we usually fail to recognize—satire reaffirms values.

The values that have been most tested during this presidential election relate to the place of women in our society. Are women merely sexual objects? Is it okay that powerful men think that can get away with anything? Is it okay for Trump to degrade women and grab you know what? Is it okay for Bill Clinton to do whatever he did?

During this presidential election, the value of women has been questioned. And, the value of women has also, I believe, been reaffirmed, at least by most Americans. Most of us are outraged by how Trump talks about women. Most of us are at least disappointed in Bill. Most of us are disgusted and outraged. Most of us have said that women should be respected. This is the one thing that might be a positive outcome of this election.

Posted by: George | October 8, 2016

Advice for People Close to Trump

I am going to offer some advice for people close to Trump. I don’t mean just people who are emotionally close to Trump, as in family and friends, though being emotionally close to Trump is hard to imagine. I mean more people physically close to Trump, as in people who are in the proximity of Trump and may be in danger of one kind or another.

 Mike Pence: I hate to tell you this, but there are all of these signs across the country that say Trump Pence, like it is the first and last name of one guy. There are way too many of these signs for you to collect by driving around in your pickup truck, even if you have some help from your friends. Now, it is true that Trump is in a larger font than Pence, but this is still really bad. Your only hope for a future in politics is to do something historic, like be the first Vice President nominee to say, “I no longer support the top of the ticket.”

 Reince Priebus: I think it is time to start focusing on candidates down ticket. Actually, you should have been doing this a few months ago, but better late than never.

 Kellyanne Conway: Don’t be alone with this guy. You might also want to start carrying some mace. I would advise that you carry the strong stuff. Go to a backpacking store and ask for Bear Repellant.

Steven Bannon: Enjoy yourself. You have finally found that good buddy you’ve been looking for since you were about twelve years old and the normal guys in your school wouldn’t hang out with you because they thought you were a disgusting jerk.

 Don King: Time to get that haircut and go into hiding.

 Sarah Palin: This might be your moment to shine. I know Trump kind of dumped you after you gave that incoherent endorsement speech, but he might be reaching out (I mean that in a phone call way, not a groping way).

 Ivanka Trump: I know he’s your father, but don’t let this guy be alone with your kids.

 Trump Boys (Eric and Don, Jr.): In case you are looking at your father and thinking something like, “Well, that’s just the way guys talk when they are hanging out,” it’s not. You can’t find another father, but you can find another role model.

 Chris Christie: You were pretty good at saying you didn’t know anything about that bridge thing. Maybe you could say, “I don’t know Donald Trump. I never supported him.” Keep saying it with that Jersey swagger thing you do so well. Everything will be okay.

 Scott Baio: I know your career has not been going that great. Sorry about that. And, hate to say this, it’s not going to pick up anytime soon.

 Ben Carson: I would suggest prayer, but I have to say I am not sure what you should pray for. Just start praying. You’ll figure it out.

 Ted Cruz: You’re in good shape. That non-endorsement thing at the Republican National Convention—brilliant. Just hunker down and let everything around you explode. People will soon be looking to you as representing the moral high ground of the Republican party. Hard to imagine, I know.

Rudy Giuliani: I know you are thinking something like, “I thought I was smarter than this.” You’re not.

Posted by: George | September 27, 2016

Millennials and Voting; or, Political Mashups

Something has become unmoored. I mean about young voters, that group we like to call Millennials as if to define them, as if they thought like a group. They don’t. They aren’t into group-think. They are unmoored.

This has been coming for a while, even before many Millennials were born, before the born Millennials were thinking about much of anything beyond a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and the latest episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.

I began to notice this oddity around the mid-1990s when I was teaching at Missouri State University. One of my students wrote a conservative column for the university newspaper, but he didn’t look like it.

He wore a black leather motorcycle jacket, always, never took it off. Pinned to the jacket was a huge safety pin, about five inches across. He wore jeans that were big and long, the cuffs rolled to reveal a good bit of his black combat boots. He had dark black hair, maybe dyed, and a pompadour.

If he had walked onstage at a Ramones concert, the crowd would have thought he was a long-lost cousin and a brand-new Ramone.

Even the editorial staff at the university newspaper had trouble understanding how a guy could look like this and write the conservative column, which was very conservative, like early Rush Limbaugh conservative. They often put his picture with the liberal column, and the picture of the guy who wrote the liberal column, who looked like your typical frat boy, with the conservative column.

After knowing this student, I often talked about him whenever I lectured on Semiotics. In a traditional (Modernist) analysis of signs, there should be some connection between the signifier (the sign, for example, a black leather motorcycle jacket) and the signified (the values of people who ride motorcycles).

In The Wild One (1953), Johnny, member of a motorcycle gang, dressed in his black leather jacket (played by Marlon Brando) is asked, “What are you rebelling against?” He answers, “Whadda you got?” That makes sense in terms of traditional semiotics.

When a guy who looks like Marlon Brando in The Wild One but writes like Rush Limbaugh, something has become unmoored. We have just gone a little Postie, as in Post-Modern. In Postie land, you can be a Punk Rock Ultra Right Conservative.

Since the mid-1990s, over years of reading student essays on politics, I have noticed a growing trend. My students don’t align with the ideology of a particular political party. I mean something beyond not caring about politics at all or not wanting to be labeled a Democrat or Republican.

I mean each student seems to have an interesting mashup of political views. A student might be a feminist and Pro-Life. Another one might want to shut down the War on Drugs and be against any form of gun control. With so-called Millennials, I have seen just about every possible combination of beliefs, and I rarely see in a Millennial a set of beliefs that neatly matches up with the platform of any major political party.

This raises an interesting question: How does a politician appeal to young voters who have such a mix of beliefs and values, none of which seem to be clear wedge issues?

The only core value, as far as I can tell, that works for Millennials as a group is authenticity. In 2008 and 2012, they felt that Obama was authentic. In the Democratic primaries, they felt that Sanders was authentic. When it was clear that Sanders would not win the nomination, some of his supporters considered shifting their support to Trump. To many of us over 30 and most of us over 40, this is confounding. But, some Millennials see Trump as authentic. They might not like some of his views or some of his behavior, but he is authentic, if only in a Postie kind of way.

As a clarification here, I am not saying that young voters are consistently going with Trump. Some are, but many are going to third and fourth party candidates. This might be, in part, because the Libertarian and Green party platforms are not very well know, which might make it easier for young mashup voters to move in their direction.

So, can Clinton, whom voters don’t seem to trust, attract some of these young voters? I am going to argue a position many might consider to be an implausible. I think Clinton can become more authentic.

When she is on college campuses, she needs to speak about student debt, which might be the one issue that has the potential to coalesce Millennials. More importantly, she needs to talk more about her long history of public service on issues relating to the welfare of women, families, and children: her work with the Children’s Defense Fund, her advocacy for legal rights for children, and her speeches promoting women’s rights in all countries. According to, Clinton has supported 417 progressive bills on these issues. She was actively involved in this issues even before her husband was elected Governor of Arkansas.

Certainly, too often, Clinton seems to waffle. She seemed to be for the TPP, now she is against it. But on many issues, she has been as consistent as Bernie Sanders—for about four decades. And I consider Sanders to be the Gold Standard of consistency. So the way Clinton can be more authentic is to embrace her own authenticity. Why is this so hard?

Posted by: George | September 12, 2016

Hey Hillary, stop doing dumb sh*t, part two

Being with Hillary is frustrating. I do not mean “being with” as “supporting.” We are all “with” Hillary, whether we are a supporter or a hater. We cannot avoid it, anymore than we can avoid being “with” Donald Trump, which is not easy either, but I’ll save that for another post.

What is particularly frustrating about Hillary is that nothing is ever resolved. Her supporters want scandals to be settled or drift into obscurity. Her haters want her in jail. We are all stuck in some kind of vicious loop where nothing seems to change.

She can apologize. She can explain. Congress can put us through weeks of hearings. The FBI can assign over a hundred agents to investigate her. Nothing is ever resolved. We all keep slogging through six inches of mud.


Other politicians are able to move on. That doesn’t mean that they move beyond having some kind of hint of scandal that loops around from time to time. But they don’t seem to live with their scandals the way that Hillary does. And, also, Bill. It seems to be a family thing.

A number of pundits have said that the Clintons think they are above accountability or that they can game the system. There’s some truth in this.

Hillary once referred to a “vast right wing conspiracy” to undo her husband. At times, she seems to hint that she still believes in the conspiracy, which is now directed at her. There might be some truth here also.

Since Reagan, conservatives—especially the one percent—seem to think that this is their country. I don’t think that the chants of “we want our country back” are entirely racist. The sentiment also reflects a belief that core American values are essentially conservative, even narrowly Christian, even more narrowly evangelical. The Clintons have been the biggest threat to their America.

Public Relations experts, like Donnie Deutsch, say the Clintons do not get out ahead of their scandals. They let information dribble out. They are slow to apologize. There’s some truth here also.

Let me my part to the existing explanations. I think the Clintons have a complex world view, and that conflicts with how the pubic views truth.

The Clintons are smart people, probably two of the smartest people in the history of American politics. Smart people like complexity and grey areas.

They have also been active—very active—in politics and charity work for a long time. There is a lot of history to their public life. In other words, there’s a lot of complexity.

Look at, for example, the Clinton Foundation. The foundation has raised an incredible amount of money and has had a profound positive effect on many issues. It is doing great work. One might argue that the Clintons have tried to be transparent about who the donors are and how the money is used. At the same time, you cannot raise that kind of money without giving something to donors. That “something” might have been fairly benign, like a short meeting or a phone call with Bill or Hillary, but there is going to be a “something.” In other words, there are a lot of “dots” here.

This is not unlike being president or being Secretary of State. These jobs entail a lot of meetings. There are a lot of “dots” here also.

So, the Clintons have a complex and long history with a lot of “dots.” Draw a line through some of the dots. Any kind of line. Straight. Squiggly. Angular. Make a story from the dots that you connected. Bam, you have a scandal.

In some ways, I have been surprised that we haven’t had more stories about more Clinton scandals. You don’t need a top-notch investigative reporter. Pull some third grader out of class for a few hours. Have the kid draw some lines through dots. Ask the kid to write a story. Hey, a new scandal.

At this point, you may be thinking that I am trying to defend the Clintons and say they are much aligned.

That’s not the point I want to make. Here is the point: The Clintons are complex people who have led complex lives, and they want to talk about complexity. However, complexity doesn’t make scandals go away. Simplicity and repetition of a simple message is the only strategy that works, and it is the only strategy that the Clintons are unwilling to try.

The Clintons have made mistakes. Hillary admitted that she made a mistake to have an email server in her home, and she even apologized for it. Good. Now, walk away.

She doesn’t walk away. Instead, she keeps talking. She talks about the complexity of how Top Secret documents are labeled. She talks about the administration policy. She talks about all kinds of things. Don’t do that. Walk away.

Whenever reports ask Hillary about the emails, she should say she made a mistake and apologize. That’s all. If the reporters ask follow-up questions, give the same simple answer. Over and over.

If Hillary cannot control herself, if she has to go into complexity, do it on a website. Or, let surrogates talk about complexity.

Hillary should just say she made a mistake, apologize, and then shut up.

Posted by: George | August 18, 2016

A Short Guide to American Political Parties

In the 2016 election, all four American political parties will be more fully present. They might all possibly participate in the debates. To prevent confusion, I offer the following short guide, which defines each political party with a simple statement. Note: This is an equal opportunity (that is, equal insult) post, so, if you are sensitive about your political party, it is best you stop reading right HERE.

Republican Party: “Don’t take my stuff.”

Explanation: Republicans like a strong military so other countries won’t take our stuff. They like low taxes because that’s their money. Etc.

Democratic Party: “You should like me because I’m a nice person.”

Explanation: Democrats like social programs that help people out because they are really nice and so people should appreciate them. They respect diversity because we should all love each other and, if you love everybody, they will love you back. Etc.

Libertarian Party: “Leave me the f*ck alone.”

Explanation: They don’t like a lot of laws because that means someone is messing with them. They don’t even really like roads because other people can drive on them also. Etc.

Green Party: “I am morally superior.”

Explanation: They are not so much for sustainability; they are more for ecological wisdom. They are for grassroots democracy, decentralization of power, and active participation in political decisions except they don’t really like everyone (actually, not much of anyone because most people are really stupid). Etc.

Posted by: George | August 15, 2016

Trump’s Nose

This is about Trump’s nose.

But before I make a point about Trump’s nose, I need to set some groundwork.

In August 1976, early in his presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter told a crowd of American Legion members, that he would, as president, pardon drafts dodgers. Feelings about the Vietnam War were still raw. Not surprisingly, the crowd of veterans booed Carter. He knew they would boo him. I am sure that he did not convince one person in that crowd of a few hundred veterans to vote for him, but millions of Americans watched coverage of the speech on the nightly news. Many of them thought, that was gutsy. That was honest. He won the election.

In 1980, when Ronald Reagan was delivering his acceptance speech before the Republican National Convention, he said, “And, the time is now to redeem promises once made to the American people by another candidate, in another time and another place.” He then read a long quote about reducing the size of the Federal government and ended by saying, “So said Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention in July 1932.” The hall was silent. I am sure all of the Republicans in the hall were thinking, “Did he just quote FDR?” He did, and he created an entirely new wing of the Republican party called Reagan Democrats. He won the election.

FDR understood the power of national newspapers, which began to emerge in the late nineteenth-century. Kennedy understood the power of television, which began to emerge in the 1950s. Obama understood the power of the Internet and social media, which began to emerge in the late 1990s.

Both Carter and Reagan understood that, in the era of television, you are never speaking only to the people in the hall. Now, we are in the area of the Internet. Everything is recorded. Every word, every gesture, every grunt is replayed over and over again, each time in a different context to a different audience. Politicians should realize that they are always speaking to a complex audience, a broad audience, an audience of “another time and another place.” When you think about it, what Reagan was doing in 1980 was basically retweeting FDR, and then this portion of his speech was retweeted on national news shows. The audience in the hall is never the entire audience. Well, at least, not since the early nineteenth-century or so.

Now, in August 2016, Donald Trump is tanking in the polls, and he is saying that the polls are wrong. He is saying that, if he loses, the election will have been rigged. Why? Because is speaking to large crowds of 10,000 to 20,000, and they love him. How could the polls be right? How could he possibly lose this election, if the election is fair?

So what does all this have to do with Trump’s nose?

Simply this, he doesn’t understand anything that is not right under it.

He thinks that the crowd in the hall is his entire audience.

Posted by: George | August 6, 2016

Trump and Narcissism

When Todd Purdum was researching his Vanity Fair postmortem on Sarah Palin’s performance in the 2008 election, he kept encountering the issue of narcissism:

More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin’s extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of “narcissistic personality disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—“a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy”—and thought it fit her perfectly.

Here we go again. Palin is more or less gone, but we have Trump. Once again people are consulting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and wondering if Trump’s erratic behavior fits the definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I’ll save you some time. To earn the label narcissist, an individual needs to have five or more of the following traits:

           Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.

           Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

           Believes that he or she is “special” and unique.

           Requires excessive admiration.

           Has a sense of entitlement.

           Is interpersonally exploitative.

           Lacks empathy.

           Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her.

           Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Okay, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that this list of traits fits Trump pretty well. I am pretty sure he has at least five of these. He might just run the table.

What the list doesn’t convey, though, is the extent to which narcissists structure their entire environment to maintain their inflated sense of self. They bully and intimidate those who disagree with them, and they expect family and close associates to match their mood. When they are intoxicated with their own glory, others must be just as giddy. They are skilled at keeping any doubts from rising into consciousness.

While Trump has been in the public eye for a long time, he is now moving through an even more complex environment, one that is more difficult to control. He has just finished what has to be one of the worst weeks of any presidential candidate—ever. He has even fallen behind Clinton is Georgia. That’s really bad news. Pundits are wondering if the election is already over. Republican leaders are talking about doing an intervention. Good luck with that.

Is Trump a narcissist? At this point, this is not a particularly interesting question—or one that deserves serious discussion. A more interesting question is, What happens to a narcissist who suffers so much criticism and faces so many personal disasters that he can no longer control his environment and, ultimately, his inflated sense of self? In other words, How does a narcissist act when he is in a state of collapse?

The one thing that the narcissist will not do is admit that he was in over his head, that he made mistakes, or that he is responsible. There have been some ugly moments in the Trump campaign. If, however, his poll numbers keep dropping, he will need to amp up what most of us consider his worse traits in a desperate attempt to keep his ego inflated. See Leon F. Seltzer’s “What Really Makes Narcissists Tick?” (Psychology Today Blog, July 28, 2015).

 It’s going to get ugly. Expect to hear more about the system being rigged. Expect to see staff fired. Expect to see staff quit. Expect paranoia. Expect anger. At lot of intense anger.

More troubling, we will likely see similar behavior from serious Trump supporters.

We might find ourselves being a little nostalgic for Sarah Palin.



Posted by: George | August 1, 2016

Trump and Political Correctness

In one of the many street interviews televised during the Republican National Convention, one delegate spoke about how glad he was that Trump had been countering political correctness in both his comments and the content of his speeches. He went on to say that, while he was not against Gays, he didn’t feel like he could, because of political correctness, criticize Gay marriage. I think this is an accurate paraphrase.

 The comment won’t surprise anyone. We have often heard this kind of remark from Trump and his supporters.

 If I could paraphrase my paraphrase, the basic thought here seems to be that political correctness is bad because it is a dogma, a set of nonsensical and random prohibitions that infringe on our right to free speech.

 College professors like myself have been part of the driving force behind political correctness, and we must accept part of the responsibility for it being viewed as a dogma. When I talk with my students, I am sure that I help them shape their language so that it is more politically correct and I am sure that I often fail to explain why I am suggesting certain kinds of revision.

 What I should be saying to my students is that words have consequences. Words create and reinforce certain socially constructed beliefs that marginalize entire groups of people and even give tacit permission for violence. Violence does not come purely from the body. Violence always begins with language, and it always returns to language.

 When I taught a World Literature survey years ago, I told my students, at the beginning of the class, that we were going to witness the historical unfolding of the holocaust. In the literature we would be reading, we will see the holocaust emerge over centuries. We will see it in the words written by people we consider to be great authors and great thinkers. Political correctness should convey this kind of understanding, but that is not easy to achieve, even in an entire semester. So, we fall back on prohibitions, and simple prohibitions can do harm as well as good.

 What troubles me about political correctness is that it can make people reluctant to talk about their prejudices. We need to talk about all kinds of discrimination, and good people are afraid to speak because they do not want to offend. If we cannot speak, we will not come to an understanding.

 To come to an understanding of each other, we have to speak with honesty, as true to our experience as we can, and with respect for those of a different race, gender, religion, or culture, those whose experience can be so different.

 This is why President Obama doesn’t like to use the word Islamic Terrorism. The term makes it sound like all Muslims are terrorists or all terrorism comes from the Islamic faith. Trump relishes in using the term, and he criticizes Obama for not using it. Not surprisingly, it is Trump who wants to ban Muslims from entering our country. Words have consequences.

 I want to quote a couple of paragraphs from Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, a remarkable discussion about race. Fair warning, it’s going to get a little theoretical here:

 Not long ago you are in a room where someone asks the philosopher Judith Butler what makes language hurtful. You can feel everyone lean in. Our very being exposes us to the address of another, she answers. We suffer from the condition of being addressable. Our emotional openness, she adds, is carried by our addressability. Language navigates this.

For so long you thought the ambition of racist language was to denigrate and erase you as a person. After considering Butler’s remarks, you begin to understand yourself as rendered hypervisible in the face of such language acts. Language that feels hurtful is intended to exploit all the ways that you are present. Your alertness, your openness, and your desire to engage actual demand your presence, your looking up, your talking back, and, as insane as it is, saying please.

 Saying please, sir, and madam are forms of political correctness that predate the actual term. Politeness can prevent us from saying what needs to be said. As Rankin says at the end of the same essay, “getting along shouldn’t be an ambition.”

 Ideally, these terms and political correctness should not infringe on my ability to speak to—address—others, even on emotionally difficult topics. If we understand that respect for others is at the core of these terms as well as political correctness, then this reflective use of language, this awareness of the effects of language, should make an honest and open discussion more possible.

 We are all vulnerable to the effects of language, simply because we are with others and engage in dialogue with others. This is what Judith Butler is saying in a more philosophical language. This is, I believe, what Claudia Rankin understands. This is the message that was forcefully delivered by the Kahn family at the Democratic National Convention. 

Posted by: George | July 28, 2016

Hey Hillary, stop doing dumb sh*t, Part One

Let me begin with full disclosure. I am—and continue to be—a Bernie Sanders supporter, but I will vote for Hillary.

While I am a Sanders supporter, I have also been sort of a Hillary supporter since around 1992, when Bill was first running for president. At that time, I read a long article in the New York Review of Books about her work with legislation and legal reform to improve the lives of children. I was impressed. Why am I “sort of” a supporter if I was so impressed and continue to be impressed with Hillary’s accomplishments. Because, about the time I read the article, she also made a dumb statement about not wanting to stay home and make cookies. What do people remember? All her accomplishments? Or, the cookie statement? The cookie statement, of course.

And here, in this brief memory, we might have the entire election in a single anecdote. I agree that Hillary may be the most qualified person to be president—ever—as Obama said in his speech before the DNC. But people will not remember this if she keeps doing dumb sh*t.

What I hope to cover in this post—the first in a series, which is why I said “Part One” in the title, because I think the dumb sh*t will keep coming—is to provide feedback on how the Clinton campaign is doing. I want her to win. Even more, I want Trump to lose. I already released a post of my advice for how she could win (June 13, 2016), and I hope that this series will offer additional advice.

So, with Part One, I want to comment on the television ad that the Clinton campaign is currently running. The ad, in short, shows a series of Trump quotes out of context. The go “f*ck yourself” comment is one of them. Trump’s comments are played on television with cutaways to the faces of children, eyes glued to the tube. The screen goes dark, and then two captions appear in sequence. First: “Our children are watching.” Then: “What example will we set for them?” After the captions, Hillary comes on and says, “Our children and grandchildren will look back at this time, at the choices we are about to make, the goals that we will strive for, and the principles we will live by, and we need to make sure that they can be proud of us.”

The ad is effective in the way that it strips the context from Trump statements and inserts them into a new context. As I advised in that earlier post, Trump’s more outrageous comments often fail to register as inappropriate because they occur within the context of his stump speeches, which are basically structured like a standup comedy routine. The humor (say what you will, but Trump is entertaining) makes the comments seem more acceptable, less worthy of reflection. The Clinton ad strips that context and places the comments in a new context, as being viewed by young children. Viewers are forced to reinterpret the comments. Now, we think about how these comments are affecting our children. This is good. This is smart.

The second half of the ad is also effective in the sense that Hillary is speaking about core American values. In that same earlier post, I said this is what Hillary needs to do. In the clip featured in this ad, she is pitch perfect. She is speaking in just the right voice—the right stylistic register, the right tone, the right volume. She seems genuine and authentic. She is not trying to be forceful and project her voice, which makes her sound phony, which she does way too often.

So, what’s the dumb sh*t?

She put both of these things in the same ad. They should be separated. Hate to keep saying, “I told you so,” but this was also covered in that earlier post. I am sure that Hillary, or her people, wanted to create a stark contrast. However, that is not how the brain processes visual images. The ad wants to say, with a contrast in the words, separated by the blank screen with captions, that Hillary is not like Trump. Hillary is presidential. Trump is not. A is not B.

The mind, however, processes visual images that appear in close proximity with a different kind of logic. A is B. Trump is like Hillary. Neither one of them should be trusted.

I have two other concerns with the ad.

One is the timing, or what rhetoricians like to call Kairos, giving the right message at the right time. These Trump quotes are still fresh in most people’s mind. I think the first part of the ad would be more effective later in the campaign, close to the election, when people have forgotten the quotes, when their short-lived effect will last long enough to carry into the voting booth.

My other concern is that the ad is being run too frequently. Hillary will, by all accounts, have an enormous advantage in campaign funds. The downside to this is that she can afford to keep running ads until people tire of them, start to become annoyed with them, and then resent them. I am already tired of this ad.

More to come, I am sure.

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