This last week should have been about President Donald Trump’s impressive, surprising, and inspiring Joint Address to Congress that was universally praised. It should have been about organic rallies popping up nationwide to support Trump.
Yet, thanks to the Tweeter-in-Chief, people have largely forgotten about the speech. Trump ate his own polling bump. Now, Americans are all thinking about last year’s election and President Obama. They’re all thinking all about the past — not about transportation, tax relief, Obamacare replacements, or border walls.
To quote a famous Secretary of State, “at this point, what difference does it make?” What does it matter now if President Obama or members of his administration tapped Trump’s phones? Trump won the election. And, while maybe there should be an investigation, this investigation should not have been a focus of Trump’s first 100 days.
These early days of a presidency are so precious, not just to pass an agenda, but also to set a tone. Most conservatives and sane Trump supporters want that tone to be what Trump articulated in his Joint Address.
But unfortunately, it is clear that Trump cannot maintain a multi-front focus without getting distracted.
So, he should try this: develop a one-track mind. For every week (or multiple weeks), pick one focus and stick to it. This last week should have been exclusively about the success of his address. If someone asked him about Russia or anything else, he and his senior staff should have deflected to the speech.
But what would be even better would be to have his attention be issue-focused. One week it’s Obamacare, the next is transportation, and the week after is tax cuts. For example, if this week’s focus is Obamacare, the answer to every question needs to be Trump’s solution to replace Obamacare.
Question from press: ‘Mr. President, did you or your team communicate with the Russians during the election?’
Answer: ‘No, but we are communicating with the American people now about how to make their healthcare more affordable by allowing them to purchase healthcare from any state in the U.S.”
Question from press: ‘Mr. President, are you angry that President Obama is staying active politically?”
Answer: “Can you blame him? He is trying to defend his failed healthcare system that is raising premiums and deductibles accross the nation, especially on young people. Whether or not he is involved, I am confident that we will be repealing and replacing Obamacare in the next few weeks.”
You get the point. Deflect and get back to your focus.
At this point, it’s not even the press’ fault that Trump is getting knocked off message. He’s knocking himself off message by tweeting about topics outside his focus. If Trump wants us to get tired of winning, he can’t get tired of staying focused on his mission.
Now, certainly the president has to focus on more than one topic at once, but his personal communication and the focus of his team can be narrowed. Sure, you can sign a random bill or have a meeting, but don’t push press to it or say anything to grab attention.
Every public statement should be about the focus; every question in the press room should be deflected to the focus. Be annoying to the media about it. Make them upset that you’re only talking about one topic.
Then, maybe then, we will be talking about a significant bill actually advancing in Congress to the president’s desk.