During about an hour-long news conference earlier Wednesday, Trump was asked repeatedly about allegations that the Russian government is behind the hacked and leaked Democratic National Committee's emails that embarrassed the party on the eve of their national convention in Philadelphia. Trump quickly pivoted to also discussing Clinton's private email-server controversy and the 30,000-plus emails the former Secretary of State had deleted from her private server under questionable explanations and circumstances.Novak is so obviously pleased with himself for coming up with this that I almost feel bad about pointing out the obvious: wouldn't it have been smarter to get Clinton's emails back in the headlines in a way that didn't reinforce the Clinton campaign narrative that Trump is unstable and dangerous?
Then came the money quote, or the bait, when he said: "Russia, if you're listening,I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing; I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."
That comment was sure to grab headlines all on its own, but then the Clinton campaign incredibly took the bait and had a top policy advisor respond with this statement: "This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent."
Sure, they meant to make Trump out to be some kind of dangerous traitor....But the real result is that the words "Hillary Clinton," "emails," "hacking," "espionage," and "national security" are back in the headlines again....
The other reason this is genius, according to Novak, is that it takes attention away from the Democratic Convention.
And in the emotions game, you can't win without getting our attention first. Is Hillary Clinton or her campaign capable or even willing to do the things that could garner a similar amount of attention? So far, all we know is her team is capable of helping Trump shine more of a light on himself....So is Novak right? Well, looking at Memeorandum yesterday morning I see a lot of stories about Trump being nutty, and only a few headlines specifically mentioning Clinton's emails. Did it drown out DNC news? Judging from Memeorandum this morning, not so much; the Convention doesn't monopolize the news, but it's certainly well represented. There are a couple of Trump stories, one of which is Trump's reaction to the Convention speakers (and yes, since you asked, it does feature Trump's thin-skinned poutrage). If you scroll way down the page, though, you'll find...Jake Novak!
So again, what we're witnessing here is a presidential candidate stealing the other party's thunder just when it needs your attention the most.
walking back the Evil Genius Trap he lured Clinton into. I'll let Greg Sargent comment on that:
If Trump's presser was so fiendishly clever and helpful to him, odd that his campaign has spent last 24 hours trying to reverse it.— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) July 28, 2016
Lots of people right now are losing their shit because they're convinced Trump is going to win. And part of that conviction is the belief that Trump has some preternatural ability to completely scrambe the election in ways that are incomprehensible to mere mortal politicians. So you get idiocy like this Jake Novak piece. But the real trump is a guy who, after Clinton describes him as "A man you can bait with a tweet", goes on Twitter to counter-attack
.@realDonaldTrump bro she said you can be baited with a tweet. You gonna just take that?— Bearded Stoner (@beardedstoner) July 29, 2016
Donald Trump has perfect control of his emotions and responses!— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) July 29, 2016
(30 minutes after being ragged for tweeting) https://t.co/cfAbfrcdyX
Now, the reality is that Trump might win--it's unlikely, but it's definitely not impossible--but not because he's an Evil Genius. Trump might win because 40% or more of the country will vote for any candidate with a R in front of his name. We're a closely-divided, polarized nation, and that means Trump's support has a floor that puts him dangerously close to a possible plurality. But this is despite, not because of Trump. Can we please stop pretending that he has any method at all?