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Sounding Presidential


Now that we’ve got likely candidates, their performance style is getting more defined. We witnessed an interesting moment recently when the Donald did his first teleprompter read. It was kind of eerie, watching him carefully deliver a prepared speech, sweeping the room back and forth between monitors and modulating his voice in a manner we hadn’t heard before. He’d clearly been coached and clearly needs more.

Doubtless that will come, but the difference was so pronounced, his personal challenge will be to mitigate the caution with increased confidence. As with all good readers, he needs to infuse a higher degree of believability into his delivery, in order to sound more real. For some talents, this comes naturally. For many, it’s an effort that must be planned and prepped every time. There was an interesting moment during his speech in which he actually said, Hey, this is hard! Yep, takes practice and patience, don’t it?

Hillary, on the other hand, has been doing this for 30 years, and it shows. The confidence is there and so is the swagger. The problem though, has the most to do with her regulating pitch and volume. She tends to get carried away in large crowds and instinctively yells at full gale to feel she’s being heard, the result of which is the Hillary Screech and brother, you know it when you hear it.

One wonders how much coaching each of the candidates are subjected to and how much they both take to heart and/or tolerate. It’s hard to imagine Trump sitting still long enough to repeat a rehearsed phrase more than once, let alone work on his delivery repeatedly. He’s gotta be Me.

Hillary’s ego runs from some bizarre outfits (how about that pink one?) to the sheer volume of her yelled challenges. The campaign trail is a game board with thousands of pumped-up voters demanding a support-worthy performance. How aware they both are of their vocal delivery from moment to moment will be a contributing factor in their success, from remote accusations to head-to-head debates. This is gonna get interesting.

///James Mandell


Let the Games Begin


A cure for cancer. Parties united. Keep America safe. Create more jobs. OK, who’s talking? If it’s my favorite pol, I’m good with all that! Otherwise, are you kidding me? As the Iowa caucus nears — and remember, a caucus is raucous, and the candidates’ rhetoric is sharpening, emotions are heating up.


Quick review: a caucus is an open election, not a secret ballot, as it is in a primary. Several states still use the caucus method, minted back in colonial times, in which groups of vocal delegates can actually sway other delegates to change their votes at the last minute. It’s a literal shouting match and can be surprising and unpredictable.

Iowa votes first, with 30 delegates up for grabs. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, being first is Iowa’s elongated place in the sun every four years, and makes the outcome incredibly important from a psychological standpoint, as in: “the candidate who won the first caucus…” That winner will stand alone for eight influential days of victory dancing, until the New Hampshire Primary, a secret ballot vote, on Feb 9, with 23 delegates up for grabs.

This first primary is famous for its position as well, not to mention the old saying “As New Hampshire goes, so goes the nation,” referring to their winner usually taking the national election. Which in reality, only seems to happen about half the time. No matter. Between New Hampshire’s 23 delegates and Iowa’s 30, recent candidacies have risen or died, and with so many Republican runners this year, we may see a few out by the third week in February.

The South Carolina Primary, with 50 delegates, follows on Feb 20 and the Nevada Caucus closes the month on Feb 23. Then comes Super-DUPER Tuesday, March 1, which oughta seal the weaker candidates’ fates, with 13 states and 565 bound delegates up for grabs. March 15 is now the date for merely Super Tuesday, with another 6 states and 361 delegates in winner-take-all votes, which will result in more than half of all delegates having been sorted out and committed to their candidates.

With the Republican Convention slated a month earlier than last election’s date, this time coming in mid-July, these next few months will doubtless reveal the shape – and the tenor – of the fun that’s to follow.


The Dance

cheek to chek

According to which poll you read, Donald Trump has either ceded first place to Ted Cruz or remains firmly in first place. Either way, there is movement afoot and as a result, a lot of nervous chatter among Republican Party campaign strategists.

Mr. Trump has made his most provocative statement to date, declaring his intention, should he be elected, to freeze all Muslim travel into the United States. There are no fine lines, no exceptions. And the freeze would last as long it takes to figure things out, he more or less stated.

How this would affect diplomatic traffic, business, entertainment and basic American Muslim family travel appears to be a non-troublesome detail he hasn’t addressed, but in the meantime, he’s masterfully galvanized world opinion that has ignited a torrent of judgmental disdain. From his own party leaders, to leaders around the world, to the entire Muslim community, the pervasive reaction has been one of shock and anger. With one significant and powerful exception: his home support base.

Once again, Trump supporters have stood firm and behind the one candidate they feel is a true outsider, who speaks his mind, from telling Jeb he’s a loser to cussing on-mic, and voices the concerns of millions of disaffected Americans who are disdainful of government and afraid of their well-being at home.

Trump is the only candidate to resolutely express a biased and formerly politically incorrect opinion yet continues to prove that he can dominate the campaign and the news cycle in doing so.

The larger problem that poses is in how the Republican Party can come to grips with supporting their possible nominee while condemning his platform. And even more troubling, the concept of another candidate prevailing next summer while Trump maintains a strong enough base to break away and run as an independent, despite his recent assurances of loyalty.

That was the thinking back in September, when the party strong-armed all the candidates into promising to support whomever won the nomination. It’s generally agreed Trump was the reason for the oath in the first place, because of fears he’d split the vote and turn the election.

Now, at this moment, the struggle is about finding a way to support him despite his hard-edged foreign policy, while other candidates continue to fight for, and gain ground. And to somehow find an acceptable level of agreement in both supporting the front-runner and preventing Trump from simply tearing up the paperwork and waltzing off on his own.




At the Turn

Horse Racing

In the blue silks, it’s Hilary in a walk.

And in the red, with two months until the Iowa caucus there’s half a dozen Rep riders lookin’ to bust a move.

Trump holds the lead despite insisting New Jersey was awash with partying Muslims post 9/11. Confronted by fact-checkers and rivals claiming no such thing, he’s the tenacious comer, whip in hand, running ahead of the pack.

Carson is fading, post-Paris. The unabashed candidate has freely admitted he’s weak on international knowledge but promises to be smarter, later. Cruz is on the inside rail, urging on his Evangelical base, decrying all things progressive and slamming the refugee door. Rubio is trotting his smarts and boyish charm with steady maturity and measured responses that are smooth and practiced. Christie is charging towards New Hampshire with major newspaper editorial support. While Paul is six lengths back, mired in libertarian isolationism that separates him from the pack and the rest of the roiling world.

Could Carly be the perfect vice presidential filly,  the Clinton counterweight to clinch the female vote? Can Kasich’s nagging and calling Trump out resuscitate his current Hey-I’m-standing-here status?  And Jeb! On the Texas walker. Uh, Jeb?

Has it ever been this contentious before? Oh my, yeah. In 2008, all John McCain could see at this time was Mike Huckabee’s butt. In 2012, Newt Gingrich was virtually lapping Mitt Romney.

That’s the thing about horse racing.  And it looks to be the time the insiders start hunkering down and hugging the rail. You can almost hear the faster hoof beats, the rhythmic snorting, the snarls of determination. It may be an 18-month slog but no one can accuse it of being boring. Even the Democrats.







Debates bring out the killer instinct in some people. Particularly in moderators who are just as worried about their numbers as the candidates.

Ya gotta love those moments when the TV head strafes a candidate and then sits there serenely getting flamed for asking the question, let alone an answer.  So now we’re vetting the questioners and the networks. Who’ll rise to respectability and who’ll win on entertainment value?

Here’s some questions I’d like to ask — if the candidates were legally required to answer them directly:

Sir, are you able to detail the literal steps you would take to deport 10 million people within the first months of your presidency or will you once again revert to answering with a simple “Trust me, it’ll happen”?

Do you believe that by winning the oil field discovery lottery, the positive numbers in your state revenue could be duplicated in states without magically appearing commodities?

How exactly would a no-fly zone work over Syria, in light of their possessing state-of-the-art anti-aircraft gunnery and aircraft and the obvious wherewithal to use it?

By eliminating hundreds of wasteful spending federal agencies, do you believe each state would be able to then equal or surpass similar schooling, rights and subsistence programs?

OK, wait.

C’mon, wouldn’t it be more fun to persist with the facebook-style stuff? Let’s get the answers Americans crave:

Governor, isn’t this about the family promising it’s your turn?

Governor, if you’re going to persist in throwing your weight around, don’t you think it might be a good idea to be in good enough shape to not get winded after the first ten seconds?

Sir, besides Muslims, in what order would other religions would be on your no-president list? How about your vice-presidential list?

Ma’am, why haven’t we seen the merest hint of sexual innuendo in all of the released super-secret emails between you and your husband?

Dude, you’re obviously cute enuf to be president, but are you buff enuf?

Sir, your suggestion of the federal legalization of weed suggests you may have made it when you yourself were high. Are you, like, right now?

Guys, if we turned this whole evening into a caged wrestling match and only let the last three who were still standing out, who would it be and would anyone like to throw the first body slam before the bell?

Line forms right down the center aisle…

And American Electorate, if we reminded you all that there’s still a full year of this campaign coming, except it’ll be getting more intense by the week, who’d like to sign up for priority seating for a substantial non-refundable fee right now?

Senator, any final thoughts before we never pay attention to you again?



Business as Usual?

There’s a cartoon in the New Yorker showing the back of a duck-blond haircut guy facing a phalanx of scowling generals in the White House war room. Caption: “Nuke the hell out of ‘em, then we’ll build something terrific.”

Right now, the presidential race is dominated by Washington outsiders. You’re already part of the machine? We hate you. You’re one of us, someone who can step in, kick butt and get things – the things we want – done? Step right this way.

Obama recently said (paraphrasing here) “This isn’t a video game. You win, you sit down in January, a whole new reality comes crashing down.”  The question is, really, who’s better suited? If Washington politics are so paralyzed that the biggest issues are getting lost, or worse, becoming a regular catalyst to shutting down the government and the business of running the country, maybe the best thing to do is to get someone who’s good at business and kick some butt.

Could Congress actually work that way? How would the difference manifest? How does a business person walk in and get past the lofty rhetoric of change and somehow transcend a bitterly divided Hill, sworn in allegiance to individual causes and dug in for the long haul?

You can’t lay a congressman off. You can’t split the Senate in half and declare it two separate working units, independent of one another. You can’t offer incentive bonuses or stock splits, two-for one health insurance memberships, limited time sales, comedic video campaigns that go viral or simply sell the government to another government and then start a little boutique government from scratch with pet projects that are bound to work!


business magazine cover


The difference between business and politics is that in politics, you have to do business with everyone, like it or not. And they have to agree to do business with you.