We are entering the Hope Hicks Zeitgeist
It’s not about politics, it’s about timing the message and maintaining the business model.
Let’s face it: all politicians have egos. What politicians rarely possess is a viable business model.
Enter Hope Hicks.
Democrats practice what-if aspirational driven policies like Medicare for All.
The “rest of us” do not care “about that.” “We” need a model for “getting things done”: a business model.
Trump and a complicit party practice hype, image mongering and a bleary-eyes positivism bordering on self-delusion.
Trump qua message is effective because this latter paradigm is the side effect of post-capitalist liberalism. We have arrived at a societal version of self-delusion and solipsism. Trump just needs to “show up” and the rest is accepted.
Stunning? Not really, if one pauses and contemplates the current political state. We are adrift in our differences. “Losing, above all matters.”
Which is exactly why Hope Hicks has resurfaced: to save, not Trump, but the White House, from itself.
Hicks left two years ago under the mantle of immunity and with a lawyered statement that sometimes she was asked to lie “a little bit.” Enough distance for re-entry.
On the eve of Trump’s re-election, The White House is tired and has no place to go to peddle brand Trump except Fox News and made for TV rallies. Reign in Trump? The job of the Executive Branch? Forget it. Easier to “walk the message” back.
Enter Hope Hicks.
In the age of COVID 19 Trump has lost temporarily the air waves, but not the emotional void caused in part by the virus and in part by an economy on the brink of another recession, bigger than the last. For 1/3 of America Trump is “our best bet.”
The other 2/3rd is quiet, like a member of a dysfunctional family skirting schizophrenia or worse, self-delusion. The collective “we” is holding our breath.
Virus or not, Joe Biden is in the basement…literally. Socialism carries a price tag which followers of the status quo resist.
The Democrats have strategically not moved past getting rid of Trump and his minions. In America this quasi political posture is not only a dismal vote getter, it also smacks of “sour grapes.”
The country has catapulted to the right, the middle has evaporated, and the left is mired in culture issue fixes. Bernie and Elizabeth’s “revolution” has devolved into political theater.
We like our politics ready-made. Despots and kings are the stuff of dusty history books. Truth and context don’t matter. Give us the beef, aka “red meat.”
Enter Hope Hicks.
As a marketer, which she is not, Hope Hicks has a tight grasp on the numerator — timing and messaging.
With Hicks, gone is the marketing denominator — the audience, the awkward human voids, the Clinton-esque focus groups.
Hicks’ new office in the West Wing is across the hall from Jared/Ivanka and their proximity belies their difference. Jared is a technocrat. Hope Hicks is an image crafter. Both practice bluntness, or candor, if you prefer. But here the synergy ends. Jared doesn’t know timing and business doesn’t trust him. Hope Hicks is masterful at seizing moments and timing messages. Business admires Hope Hicks. Business does not admire Jared.
So when the going got tough — think week 2 of the virus briefings, when Trump was about to face his nihilistic tendencies and Pence was floundering — Hope convinced staffers to go to their Rolodexes and started calling CEOs. Several started appearing on the South Lawn — not cops or hard hats but white bread suits.
Here is when the Trump business model in the collective imagination took off.
Trump needed to capture positive attention. Hicks, rather than tell him to not be himself, assured Trump that CEO’s could grace his presence. Her advice: Just be Trump.
CEO’s were carefully picked for household familiarity: P&G. Walgreens. Abbot Labs. DuPont. Companies known only for their brands. Packagers. Distributors. Ones who eschew attention and are clean of political agendas.
This was the predictable Hicksian subtext: government works because private industry supports the people… and by extension Trump. Win. Win. Corporate CEO’s get invaluable good will by just appearing, Trump wins the “do something” air space. No wonder at these “briefings” Trump has little time to extol the bravery of those on the “front line.” He needs all the space and time he can muster…for his brand, for Trump.
Like the ubiquitous, reappearing roadside billboard in The Great Gatsby, you have to drive past brand Trump in order to go anywhere.
This is the business marketing model Hicks is called upon to sustain: Trump, the message. An artificial audience — Hick’s denominator — the CEO’s, the. MAGA hat donning “base.” These are the messengers, the water carriers. Synergy resides in message and messenger. One reinforces the other.
The curious thing is why “we” consistently fall for this. In spite of AOC’s proposition that political discomfort, the “burrs of change,” metaphorically speaking, is a good thing “we” seek comfort befuddled.
We stop imagining. We stare at the billboard.
Enter Hope Hicks.
Timing the message is simplified by collapsing message timing with message placement, where the rally is going to be, where the event is taking place. Trump is always going somewhere, which means by inference, that we are not. We are quarantined in front of the TV.
Hicks is a veteran event planner. So the helicopter is furloughed, temporarily. We have the White House edifice as backstop. When brand Trump is back on the road, we’ll have the familiar smiling, cheering white bread backstop.
In the meantime, just be Trump.
What can reasonable people do?
- Dream or imagine
- 2. Reclaim or runaway
- 3. Regulate or transform
- 4. Look at your feet, not at the ground
- 5. Accent the positive, eliminate the negative
- 6. Balance sheet wisdom
- 7. Transparency or triumph
- 8. Dumb down or resist up
- 9. It’s our America
- 10. Stop staring at the billboard