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Mike Siegel: An Open Letter to President Trump

Mike Siegel
July 17, 2017 - 11:50 am
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Dear Mr. President:

You have been remarkably successful in accomplishing many of your commitments to the electorate during this first 6 months of your administration. Even your most severe critics would be hard put to find this level of success so early in prior presidential administrations.

The 78% reduction in illegal immigration is a stunning success thanks to your executive orders. The new bill you signed into law to allow the Veterans Administration the option to terminate employees who behave in ways that violate the law and intent of providing for our veterans is a major success.

The executive orders reducing regulation on business in this country has been a major beginning to reversing the burdensome government overreach into private sector control. This will alleviate these constraints so that business can do what it does best: be productive, create jobs and improve the economy so that new revenues will be added to the federal treasury from this growth in the private sector.

The elimination of the executive memo on DAPA will mean that ICE will have the ability to remove people from this country who are illegally here. There is no constitutional right to violate the law by entering this country (Title 8 Section 1325 U.S. Code) and expect to remain and even get benefits at the expense of the taxpayers. You have accomplished this and much more, for the most part, without any meaningful assistance from Congress. They have betrayed their constituents who voted for you in states where Republicans rarely win. The message was clear: the American people wanted change, the kind you offered and have produced.

Having said that, there are more effective ways for you to deal with getting your message across and increasing your support beyond the base you have established. As a Professor of Communication, I have had the opportunity to teach Business, Organizational and Crisis Communication. As a consultant, I have put these concepts into practice.

Permit me to share my thoughts:

  1. Press Availability of Press Secretary

Having daily press briefings broadcast on national television can, in fact, be a strategy that benefits your administration. Here are some suggestions to make this work for you:

  1. Organizational communication requires being on the same page with your communication staff. The most glaring example of a problem in your administration was when Sarah Huckabee-Sanders on a Tuesday told the press briefing attendees that the firing of the FBI Director was based on the Assistant Attorney General clearly articulating in his memo that the behavior of Mr. Comey made it clear he was no longer viable in that position.

Then you come along on Thursday of that week, 2 days later, and tell Lester Holt of NBC that you were thinking about firing him for months and alluded to the Russia investigation. Why undermine your own press secretary’s statement?

You undermined Ms. Huckabee-Sanders but you also undermined your own position. You created vulnerability in the decision. Had you emphasized that the supervisor of Comey, the Assistant Attorney General recommended this decision, you would have been on safe ground without room for criticism

  1. Use of Twitter

Yes, it is true that you have been able to reach tens of millions of people through Twitter without the sanitizing of your message by CNN and others. Nevertheless, you have again undermined your own positions on issues in numerous instances.

As an example, you referred to a federal judge as unqualified to hear the case against Trump University (I attended and enjoyed it) simply because he was of Mexican descent. It turned out to be an absurd comment since he was from Indiana and all of us have a heritage from someplace other than the United States. Your tweets on this judge appeared to be racist, disparaging without substantiation and made you look foolish.

Or when you attacked Brent Bozell, a highly respected conservative at the Media Research Center, who has exposed left wing media bias for far longer than you have been in politics. Why attack him?

You called President George W. Bush a liar on his decision to use military action in Iraq then could not prove it. In fact, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel confirmed publicly that Saddam Hussein had sent his weapons of mass destruction to Syria before the inspection, so obviously those weapons were gone but had been there. Yet you totally disregarded this aspect of that decision.

My simple point on tweets is be clear and when there is an attack on an individual, have the substantiation to support your tweet.

In fact, you would be well advised to tweet only on substantive issues such as immigration, veterans’ issues, tax reform, health care, tax cuts and other such issues. That would be a far more productive strategy for your own benefit and that of your administration than the petty twitter debates with individuals. The President needs to be above that.

  1. Presidential Speeches to the American People

Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were powerful examples of using the media for their benefit effectively. When the civil rights movement was building during the early 1960’s, President Kennedy sat behind his desk in the Oval Office during prime time in the evening and spoke directly to that American people asking them how they would feel if they woke up the next day and their skin were black. This had major impact on the national thought process regarding the civil rights movement and helped move us forward under Dr. King’s leadership. President Kennedy was also willing to admit that he was wrong in pulling the plug on our air support for the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba. That had favorable impact with the American people as the President admitted he was wrong, even though he could have said this action was dumped in his lap by the Eisenhower Administration. A politician being humble can reap huge rewards with the electorate if handled properly.

President Reagan would often use that same setting to speak to the American people by directly asking for citizens to contact their members of Congress to support his legislative concerns. He was clearly successful because he built the support of the American people.

As noted above, some of your communication strategy has divided the American people.

Now you have the opportunity to use alternative communication channels and, yes, give a speech in prime time to the American people about supporting the Republican health care bill and pressuring their members of Congress to finalize a bill.

Calling members privately as you have is certainly important. More important, however, is coordinating the American people to pressure their members of Congress and you could be instrumental in that through a televised speech.

The backdrop of the Oval Office gives added seriousness and credibility to your message as it has done for many presidents before you.

The bottom line is that the American President has every word and action watched. In your own self-interest, it would behoove you to review your communication strategy and tactics. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results

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