Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

It Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

It gets curiouser and curiouser.

Donald Trump Shouting, You're Fired © Can Stock Photo doddisPresident Trump fired FBI Director James Comey over something he did months ago, which Trump praised at the time. Comey was not informed of his firing by the president, but instead found out about it when news broke on a TV screen behind him while addressing agents in Los Angeles. President Trump denied the firing had anything to do with the investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. elections, but made sure to reference the investigation in his statement. He did not reference the supposed reason for the firing, however. The next day, he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office. The U.S. media was blocked from attending the meeting, but a photographer for the state-owned Russian media outlet Tass was allowed in.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer was left to literally hide in the bushes because he was not given ample warning of Comey’s ouster so he wasn’t prepared to address it.

In other news, a reporter was arrested for “yelling questions” at Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

And the president wonders why the latest Quinnipiac University poll, taken before the latest misstep, shows his disapproval rating at 58%, with 51% strongly disapproving and 56% saying he lacks good leadership skills. (Fifty-seven percent trust the media over the president to tell the truth, by the way.)

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at

Unleash your power TW


Remembering Our First President’s Warning on Parties

As we prepare for the peaceful transition of government in a nation divided by party, creed, economics, geography, religion, and race, it is perhaps instructive to remember this portion of George Washington’s Farewell Address:

george-washington-1731-1799-on-engraving-from-the-1800s-can-stock-photo-georgiosart-smI have already intimated to you the danger of Parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on Geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, & warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally.

This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseperable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight) the common & continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise People to discourage and restrain it.

(Excerpted from the University of Virginia, The Papers of George Washington, Farewell Address – Transcription)

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at

I Sprinkled Salt and Pepper on My Words and Ate Them

Three weeks ago, I wrote these words:

businessman-rips-open-his-shirt-to-show-his-presidential-seal-t-shirt-can-stock-photo-ijdema-72“The majority of the American people do not like Hillary Clinton and do not trust her. But she will win over Donald Trump, and win handily, because hers is the more disciplined campaign.”

Wednesday morning, I sprinkled salt and pepper on those words and ate them.

As a professional communicator and the veteran of several political campaigns, I firmly believe, as I wrote three weeks ago: “The No. 1 rule of any campaign—political or otherwise—is to stay on message. Being disciplined doesn’t guarantee success. But being undisciplined guarantees failure.”

President-elect Trump did everything wrong from a communications standpoint. He frequently veered off message. He consistently took the Clinton bait and kept a controversial story alive for days after it should have died from inattention. He lacked the get-out-the-vote structure every campaign needs to win.

Trump broke all the rules of modern-day politics and won. Why? Was Clinton that weak of a candidate? Is the electorate so undisciplined that Trump’s Wild West campaigning from an Ivory Trump Tower appealed to them? Was his seemingly undisciplined campaign weirdly disciplined?

A number of factors were in play, starting with yes, Clinton really was that weak a candidate. She is no Bill Clinton and no Barack Obama. She fails to inspire. Breaking the glass ceiling was not enough of a reason for Democrats—who have to be REALLY inspired to make the effort to vote—to strike a ballot for the team. Clinton stood for the status quo. Few are inspired by the status quo, particularly during the longest recovery in U.S. history peppered by ever-rising health insurance premiums and deductibles.

Clinton also took voters in Michigan and Wisconsin for granted—another usually fatal mistake. Never make your friends feel like stepchildren, especially when those friends are in a world of economic hurt. Trump’s six trips to Michigan stood out precisely because no one expected him to win there, but it showed he cared for their plight. Clinton’s last-minute visits were too little, too late.

So Trump pulled it off. Possibly he is the only one who could have because I believe the rule still applies to us mere mortals: “Being disciplined doesn’t guarantee success. But being undisciplined guarantees failure.” He overcame that by not standing for the status quo, by not taking voters for granted, and by being weirdly disciplined in the final weeks.

With digested words, I congratulate you, President-elect Trump. I wish you and my country well.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at

Undisciplined Trump Hands Election to Distrusted and Disliked Clinton

When Donald Trump loses the presidential election 19 days from now, it won’t be because he’s a misogynist, bigot, or an egomaniac. It won’t be because of some vast left-wing conspiracy. It will be because he ran the most undisciplined campaign in modern American history.

discipline-bridge-weak-to-strong-can-stock-photo-inc-andreyncBecause of that, he will lose to a Democratic candidate who was easily beatable. Hillary Clinton has more skeletons in her closet than a party store the day after Halloween. The majority of the American people do not like her and do not trust her. But she will win, and win handily, because hers is the more disciplined campaign.

Donald Trump would not be our first misogynistic, bigoted, and egomaniacal president. But the other misogynistic, bigoted, and egomaniacal candidates ran disciplined campaigns and we didn’t know the true measure of those traits until they left office.

The No. 1 rule of any campaign—political or otherwise—is to stay on message. Being disciplined doesn’t guarantee success. But being undisciplined guarantees failure. The Republican’s message should have focused on healthcare and the middle class. On small business taxes. On how Obamacare has made health insurance unaffordable for the masses and deprived small businesses the opportunity to care for their employees. It should have been laser-focused on Hillary’s ties to Wall Street and the hundreds of thousands she was paid for just three speeches to Goldman Sachs. Although the details leaked just a few days ago, the fact that she would not disclose anything about them was damning on its own.

Those are the messages Bernie Sanders used to come from way behind and nearly knock her off the November ballot.

But The Donald could not do that. Instead of privately fretting with aides about the media, or the bimbos, or the Mexican-American judge, those were the topics he publicly laser-focused on. Instead of apologizing sincerely for the 2005 videotape, he attacked others over it for days and ensured it remained the focus of news coverage.

Here’s how that should have gone for The Donald:

“I said some hurtful things about women for which I am not proud. It’s not the man I am. I apologize to the women I have denigrated and advise all boys and young men to take this as a lesson as how not to treat women.”

If it was brought up again, he could point to his apology and move onto healthcare for mothers. Or his plan to make the workplace equitable for all. “Because that’s how you treat women in our society.”

Instead, he denigrated women some more. Not a word on healthcare. Not a word on lowering taxes for small businesses.  He took the bait.

He took the bait when Gold Star father Khizr Khan criticized him at the Democratic National Convention. He took the bait after the first presidential debate by keeping alive the controversy over former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado, including several middle-of-the-night tweets. He is so easy to knock off message, the disciplined Clinton campaign sets him up for it.

“The Clinton campaign could not have asked for more,” Clinton supporter David Axelrod told Politico after the first debate. “[The Clinton campaign] wanted to make this an issue and he is cooperating in that project. And I’m telling you, none of his advisers are telling him to do this. This is the way Donald Trump is. He’s very reactive. The Clinton folks figured that out, they were pushing his buttons all throughout that debate and he is still reeling from that.”

Had Trump been disciplined, he could have won the White House against a very weak Democratic opponent. He would have proven himself fit for office. Hillary Clinton should not be able to claim the mantle of the presidency. But she will. Because she ran the disciplined campaign against a candidate who could not rise above himself.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at

Vote for the We Party!

My fellow Americans, I am honored to run for president of these United States as the candidate of the We Party! This is HUUUGE! We are going to Make America Intoxicated Again! Intoxicated with Freedom! Intoxicated with Security! And Just Plain Intoxicated! We can all agree on that, can’t we?

intoxicated-red-hatWhen I am your president—and I will be your president—you can bet on that—we are going to fill our highways with driverless cars. We already have a lot of them on the road now. Anybody drive here today? Did you look at the other cars around you? With texters, makeup artists, and breakfast eaters, we already have driverless cars! But we’re going to make every car a safe, reliable, driverless car. Oh, I know the wimp Obama issued driverless car “recommendations” last week. More red tape. Red lights really. But we’re going to put government money on the road and create jobs. Lots of jobs. So many jobs you won’t believe it. And, with driverless cars navigating the highways and byways for us, we can get rid of those pesky open container laws—because We Party!

As your president, I will solve the Aleppo problem. No one knows Aleppo better than me. No one. Full of despicables and deplorables. Aleppo is an acronym, you know. It stands for: Alleged Libertarian Education Perfectly Preserves Obtuseness. Sad, very sad. We must bring knowledge to the third parties again. Particularly the Libertarians, because they want to legalize pot, which we support—because We Party!

Speaking of acronyms, I will ban them from the federal government. Ban them. No one hates acronyms more than I do. No one. They’re confusing and the antithesis of transparency. Did you know there are 10 different meanings for the acronym AA, including Any Agency? I. Kid. You. Not. Having 10 AA acronyms could drive someone to Alcoholics Anonymous in a driverless car. As your president, I will defund Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s a wasted program. Completely wasted. But I will increase funding for Planned Parenthood because of its obvious consequence of We Party!

I will outlaw gyms so no one ever has to exercise again! Gyms are an anti-American, socialist conspiracy. America doesn’t have an obesity epidemic! We have a success epidemic. America is the fattest nation in the world because we’re the richest. We have lots of food to eat, and we do, because Americans don’t want to waste it. Skinny people are losers. Losers! True Americans show their pride in our country by pigging out when We Party!

Speaking of American pride, NATO needs to be strengthened to protect western civilization’s right to We Party! Puny Putin is trying to exert his influence in the world. But he has tiny hands. Very tiny hands. And China continues to exert its military might. But while protecting American interests, we must be careful not to block vodka or egg rolls. Both are key ingredients when We Party!

But we will build a wall—and make Canada pay for it. Because as the great American Lewis Black said, Canada is where the cold comes from. Cold is important to beer. That’s why God invented refrigerators—to keep the cold contained. But we don’t want the cold to drift in and put a big damper on our backyard barbecues. (As your president, I will ensure you receive a tax credit for every new barbecue you buy. You can thank me later.) Now I can see some confusion in your faces. You thought we were going to build a wall along our southern border. Certainly not! That’s where tequila comes from. Building a southern wall would be the antithesis to We Party!

My fellow Americans, we live in sobering times. But we can Make America Intoxicated Again and eat, drink, and be merry. So vote for the We Party! I guarantee a new high for America!

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at

I Fear for My Country. This is My Now.

I fear for my country.

Crying eye with American Flag iris Can Stock Photo Inc.  bennymartyI’m old enough to say that now. I remember when my mother used to say it. I would turn to her and say, “The world has always been a mess.”

“Yes,” she would say. “But not like now.”

This is my now.

It’s not like I didn’t have my then. I was born in the 1950s and became aware of the world around me just as John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Then Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Soldiers returning from Vietnam were spit on by male civilians with long hair and female citizens without bras. National Guardsmen gunned down unarmed students at Kent State.

That was the news. But I didn’t need the news to tell me times were bad. A few miles from my home, race riots flared in the black neighborhood. Less than a mile away some crackers burned down a medical doctor’s home just because he had the audacity to think a black family would be welcome in our white neighborhood. The tracks are thataway, buddy, and you belong on the other side.

My classmates and I practiced crouching under our wooden desks on knees and elbows with our fingers firmly clasped behind our heads. This was to protect us if the Russkies were to launch a nuclear attack.

A Jewish schoolmate confided in me that she felt discriminated against in our Christian-dominated high school. My Columbian friends came to visit and my grandfather called them a derogatory term for someone on the other side of Trump’s wall.

Things seemingly got better.  A series of 1960s Supreme Court cases cleared the way for better race relations. In 1967, the court decided state laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage were unconstitutional. And, in 1968, it held that federal law bars all racial discrimination in the public or private sale or rental of property. A majority of both political parties in the House and Senate voted to approve the Civil Rights Act and it was signed by a Southern Democrat president.

The military draft ended the year my number was drawn. I didn’t look to see how close I had come. The Vietnam War ended a year later. We had relative peace and prosperity for many years. More people of color attended college and offices throughout the country became integrated in both race and gender.

Eight years ago we elected our first black president. Love him or hate him, it was a historic moment. We had moved beyond color. Or so it seemed.

More recently, we also seemingly had moved beyond the politics of obstruction with the selection of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House. Again, love him or hate him, but he is willing and able to stand up to the fringes of his party.

Unfortunately, we have two presidential candidates who represent the worst of America. My friends on the right are correct when they call Hillary Clinton incompetent and a compulsive liar who is in bed with Wall Street while pretending to side with the little people.  My friends on the left are correct when they call Donald Trump unstable, a bigot, and a sociopathic liar. It wouldn’t be the first time I held my nose and voted for the lesser of two evils, but I can’t tell who that is in this race. They both are completely wrong for my country.

Black people are dying at the hands of police officers at a greater rate than their share of the population. Police officers are killed for the simple reason that they wear the badge. We might as well burn down the black doctor’s house and spit on our soldiers.

And, there is no leader on the horizon with the credibility and capacity to bring back the sanity. Neither evil is less.

So I find myself in my mother’s place. I fear for my country. This is my now. I do have faith my now will be my then again. But I question how many lives will be destroyed before we get there.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at

wes rocki TW

Don’t Trap a White-collar Worker in a No-collar, Tanned, and Toned Body

Line of diverse college students in front of an American flag background with thumbs upAccording to my mother, I announced at the age of 4 that I was going to be a writer. I don’t remember that, but I do know I have been carrying a writing utensil and pad of paper in my pockets since I was 7. Despite that, I didn’t embark on a career as a professional writer until I was nearly 30.

What made it finally possible? A tuition-free community college education.

I grew up in a hopelessly blue-collar family on New York’s Long Island and entered the workforce in the landscaping industry at age 15. For a variety of reasons, when I graduated high school a college education was out of financial reach for me. New York’s community colleges were just too expensive—and forget about a university. I took a class here and there, but I did not pursue it full time or with an intent to receive a degree.

On Oct. 4, 1978, fate stepped in and literally slapped me upside the head. My head was pinned between a skip loader and a dump truck in a horrific work accident. I was 24 years old and came within inches of dying. Realizing my mortality, I took the settlement money and set out on a cross-country round trip the following spring. I wanted to see California before fate took me from this planet for good.

Twenty years later I left California as a professional writer with a college degree. Without the tuition-free college education, I probably would have remained a white-collar worker stuck in a no-collar, tanned, and toned body. See how lucky I was?

There are some very good arguments against universal free community colleges. But in my humble opinion, they are misguided and lack analysis.

Here are some of them:

It costs taxpayers too much: This is the big one, Elizabeth. Among those making that argument is Dr. Monica Herk, vice president of education research at the business-oriented Committee for Economic Development, writing in the Wall Street Journal. I agree, Dr. Herk. Free education isn’t free. Somebody has to pay for it.

But there are ways. Clearly, waste exists in the federal budget that can be used to educate our populace. For example, the Affordable Care Act was passed with the promise that it would drive down medical costs—or at least insurance costs. But according to conservative writer Christopher Chantrill, federal spending on Obamacare will increase by $320.4 billion over the next five years. That’s $64.08 billion a year. Cure Obamacare’s ills and we have more than five times the $60 billion in federal funds President Obama budgeted over 10 years to pay for 75 percent of taxpayer-supported community colleges. And don’t even get me started on the F-35 fighter jet. Fifteen years and $200 billion over budget, not a single plane has been put into service.

Even if there wasn’t waste to be found, education is a sound investment that will produce good-paying jobs, which produces taxpayers, which increases taxes in our federal, state, and local coffers. And, as it turns out, a community college education is a very sound investment. The non-profit organization College Measures reported in 2013: “In Texas, graduates with technical associate’s degrees earned on average over $11,000 more in their first year after graduation than did graduates with bachelor’s degrees. Graduates with career-oriented associate’s degrees in Applied Sciences out-earned their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees in Colorado by more than $7,000 and in Virginia by more than $2,000.”

College Measures only studies five states that track graduates. Of the five, only Arkansas saw bachelor’s degrees outpace associate degrees in first-year earnings. Blue state Oregon and red state Tennessee both recently instituted tuition-free community college education for their high school graduates just because they recognize how it can boost their economies. Tennessee calls it the Workforce and Economic Development Program.

Not everyone needs free tuition: Dr. Herk also argues if we implement universal tuition-free community colleges, the well-off will opt for it instead of community colleges. I have no data to refute that (just as she has no data to support it), but commonsense dictates that if an Ivy League school education is important to you, you are not going to soil your educational record with community college test scores. Yes, there will be some on the border of economic success/distress who will choose a taxpayer-funded first two years of college because it’s free, but I would argue that those numbers would be small. It’s not a bad thing either. It saves students two years of accumulating college debt, which means they can pour their earnings back into the economy sooner.

Not all community colleges make the grade: Dr. Herk and I agree on that. Community colleges must do a better job of providing a quality education based on skills needed to succeed in the work world. Artists need that grounding as much as financiers. Ironically, when California community colleges started charging tuition, their ability to provide a quality education decreased. The experiments in Oregon and Tennessee will be interesting to watch to see if the new emphasis of preparing students for the workforce has the side effect of increasing quality. I’m betting it will.

And that’s a win-win for all.

Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at

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