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OPINION

Trump Wins by Framing the Debate

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Prior Republican presidents allowed their opponents and the media to set the agenda.  The more liberal the past GOP president, the more he took his daily cues from television and newspapers controlled by the Left.

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But not Trump.  He tweets out what he wants people to talk about, and he has his adversaries scrambling to respond to what Trump says, not vice-versa.

The best defense is a good offense, as every sports fan knows.   Trump has mastered this better than anyone in the history of American politics.

No one on the national stage was talking about the problems of Democrat-controlled Baltimore prior to last week.  Now everyone is talking about it, thanks to Trump’s spot-on tweets about it.

Baltimore is ranked as one of the ten least livable cities in the United States. Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings represents much of the city, and he is one of the most powerful congressmen on Capitol Hill.

But recently he spent his time attacking the conditions in a detention center, even shouting at acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan during a hearing about it.  Rep. Cummings expressed outrage about how illegal aliens are held, which caught President Trump’s eye and he contrasted it with the deplorable conditions in Rep. Cummings’ own district.

“Baltimore, under the leadership of Elijah Cummings, has the worst Crime Statistics in the Nation,” Trump tweeted.  “25 years of all talk, no action!”

It is ironic how Democrats focus so much on the conditions of illegal aliens rather than spending more time and effort helping people in their own districts.  Trump would work with the Democrat-controlled House to improve inner cities, but the Pelosi crew seems uninterested in doing that.

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So Trump directs national attention to Baltimore, where help is badly needed.  A few years ago the Baltimore Orioles even played a baseball game without allowing fans to attend, because it was too dangerous outside of the stadium.

Other cities face similar crises.  Downtown St. Louis has been on a downward spiral for years, also under Democrat leadership.

While liberals are quick to resort to the “racist” label, they did not react that way when Bernie Sanders compared West Baltimore to a Third World Country during his last campaign for president.  How is it that Trump’s criticisms are considered to be racist, when Sanders’ similar comments were not?

Trump did not back down, nor should he.  On Monday he tweeted, “Nothing will get done for the people in need … Sad!”

Trump’s comments create the opportunity for something to be done, as he embarrassed Democrats who spend more time worrying about the cleanliness of centers for illegal aliens than the rampant violence and poverty among their own constituents.

Every week, and nearly every day, President Trump frames the issues for the press with his early morning tweets.  This is far more effective than other Republican politicians who wait for criticism by the other side, and then merely react to it.

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For years the Washington Post and the New York Times set the agenda for the White House, even when there was a Republican president.   White House staff were assigned to read those newspapers each morning and then reports would be given to the president and vice president so they could plan their statements accordingly.

After four or eight years of that process, it was difficult to point to any long-term accomplishments by several past Republican administrations.  But Trump is showing us how important it is to take initiative in dealing with a hostile Congress and media.

Phyllis Schlafly often emphasized the importance of being able to define the terms of a debate.  Trump is successfully taking a similar approach..

Michael Moore, who made a conspiracy theory movie against George W. Bush, wants Trump to lose but predicts that he will win reelection.  He has been critical of the Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden as an opponent of Trump next fall.

Moore lambasted his fellow Dems for trying to set an agenda based on Robert Mueller.  “A frail old man, unable to remember things, stumbling, refusing to answer basic questions,” Moore said after Mueller’s testimony to Congress last week.

“All you pundits and moderates and lame Dems who told the public to put their faith in the esteemed Robert Mueller,” Moore lamented.  Trump retweeted Moore’s comments, chuckling about how even Michael Moore agrees with him.

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There is no one among the roughly two-dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination who can match Trump’s ability to reach and connect with the American public.  Instead, the Democrats are relegated to the second-class status of responding to issues that Trump raises, starting with Baltimore and the deplorable conditions of many of our Democrat-controlled inner cities.

John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.

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