The Second Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden has been the hot topic these days, just as it is so. However, even with the coverage by the mainstream media, there is still so much that has been missed. In this episode, Bill Stierle and Tom got us covered as they discuss the bigger point of what the debate really accomplished and could have accomplished for each candidate. They talk about each of the candidates’ purposes of coming into the debate and the messages that landed in the voters’ minds. They also discuss how truth is used in one’s favor and where doubt and skepticism were thrown. Don’t miss the overarching message of the debate, one that especially mattered.
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The Overarching Message Of The Second Presidential Debate The Mainstream Media Did Not Cover
We’re going to talk about the second debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. I want to set this up for our readers because this is going to be a message in stark contrast to probably what they have seen and read since the debate, especially if they watched it and watched any mainstream media right after the debate. They’re talking about who landed the most punches, fact-checking them, who was right and who was wrong, all these things. That misses the much bigger point of what the debate accomplished, and also could have accomplished for each candidate. I’m excited to talk about that with you, Bill.
Likewise, Tom. What is the purpose of the debate? What the candidates come in with is the belief about what the purpose of the debate is. It’s what’s greatly missing in our discussion in media, news writing and things like that, the cultural and academic way to look at journalism and broadcast media. Is this a conservative media? Is this a liberal media? How do they spend the messages? All of a sudden, their expectation to talk about getting the message out about policy, facts and accuracy is not the big picture. It is so far secondary that maybe it’s a fourth of the issue at best. That’s weird to come out because as a communication podcast, this is about what do you say to get engagement. This is not about whose policy is right. It’s not about whether Joe Biden does not like fracking.
All the media could talk about afterward is that fact-checking, “We’re going to put it and find the video. Donald Trump is going to put it on his website.” Every media outlet is fact-checking that to see if he said he wants to ban fracking. Everybody’s chasing a ghost. Everybody’s chasing, is that true? Is it not? They are all missing the bigger point. That is, what messages landed in the minds of the voters? Especially that potentially undecided or leaning a little bit one way or the other, but maybe it could be swayed voters.
I appreciate this moment in time because it’s the cookie test. The cookie test is when I go to my fourteen-year-old and I’m holding up the cookie. The need for health as a fact is not relevant to the child. All they need to know with this cookie I’m holding out is, do I believe it to be true? Do I believe it to be tasty? Do I believe it validates what I believe is important? For example, CNN and a couple of people did some post debates with undecided voters. They asked them, “Do you think it’s the health of the nation or do you think it’s the economy?” Those voters were going, “I see how the economy is important. As a nation, we must keep our economy going.” Is it the expense of the health of Americans? How many is too many? Is it 250,000 or 500,000 too many? Is it one million too many?
When we say, “I don’t think the economy is all that important,” it’s like the viewer, just like the child, does not have the bandwidth to any experience of what it’s like to lose 250,000 or 500,000 people in a pandemic, which we’re probably going to land a couple of million worldwide. They don’t see that because their world is their economy. It’s their ability to purchase things, to go out to the restaurant or to go back to a football game. “I brought football back,” that’s not about whether he did it or not. That’s I am speaking to your greatest value or need. Now the readers are going like, “I want to go back to my football game. I want to go back to my NFL game. I want to sit and watch my basketball game. I want my cookie back. Where’s my cookie?”
This points to why Donald Trump in this debate achieved quite a bit of success.
He did. The point of the debate, which no one is particularly talking about, is how much doubt and skepticism did I cast upon my opponent? How did I frame that doubt and skepticism in their direction so that they took a ding on truth and trust? That’s who scored the most points. Did President Donald Trump cast enough doubt and skepticism in Joe Biden’s direction to get his voter to stay loyal? That’s the way I would prefer media reporting this. Who won is not who got the most facts correct. Who won is who creates most doubt and skepticism towards the leadership of the other candidate. It’s the one who scored more points or won the debate.
Donald Trump as a marketer and brander is inherently well-suited to do that. Not only is he a marketer and brander, but his nature. This guy doesn’t have much regard for facts and the truth anyway. That’s clear after four years of seeing this president. CNN, NBC and all these different news outlets keep telling us how many lies he told over the years. It’s in the five figures like 11,000, 12,000, 13,000 or something. So what? That’s just a number. Focusing on that is not going to help. He threw a lot of doubt and skepticism in Joe Biden’s direction. He did it spouting a lot of things that are not true. He got Joe Biden to take the bait and have to talk about that fact, which even if Joe Biden is right, it’s sort of “eh,” on the impact.There is a need for care and the integrity around care. Click To Tweet
It’s too late. The button has already been pushed inside the listener, inside the loyal person. If I’m casting doubt and skepticism on another person, truth and trust comes back to me because I’m acting like I know the truth. When somebody is acting in the confidence of knowing truth, and casting doubt and skepticism on the other person, that person looks like more of a leader. It’s like a leader that is taking you down a path that is not in alignment with truth, just in alignment with where they would like to go. Not necessarily what space best for the nation or what’s best for the thing. It’s where they want to go. They’re going to try to claim truth and trust for their own.
The comment I like the most in the debate, I rolled my eyes and go like, “He finds new ways to do it.” Pretend I’m Donald Trump and this is not verbatim by any means, “Joe Biden cast himself as a down-home man. He’s not even from Scranton. He’s not even from wherever. He’s not even from that.” The listener says, “What do you know that he’s not from that?” They don’t say, “I’m trusting Joe Biden that he’s from where he says he is, even though he was born there. I am looking at him as he’s confident and his confidence gets him more truth and trust because he’s counting doubt and skepticism.” There’s an antidote that I hope Joe Biden and other politicians start doing when people do this grasping of truth and trust in their direction.
I want people to call a person out of that technique. It’s a communication technique. It’s the same thing that happened with birtherism, “He’s not even from this country. He’s from Kenya.” What they’re doing is they’re trying to claim truth on their side. They don’t care about the truth. They care about the vote or loyalty. They want to keep their person on their side. They’re looking for irrelevant red herring discussions to take place, to take energy away from the other person.
When Donald Trump said, “You’re not even from Scranton,” what should Joe Biden have said?
“You’re trying to cast out in skepticism with me about where I’m from, about where I’m grown up. People don’t believe that you’re a millionaire either. They don’t even think you’re a billionaire. I feel doubtful about your income and I felt doubtful about you’re being truthful. I at least have a track record of telling honesty more than you do.” He’s got to go after the doubt and skepticism while casting doubt and skepticism in the other direction.
“You’re feeling doubt and skeptics about Hunter Biden. That’s an interesting technique. What I feel doubtful about is how much money your children are stealing from other countries because they’re using your office as a political favor. You’re doing it more than I am. Even though it’s truthful that my son hasn’t done it, but your kids are raking it up. I wonder how much money they’re making? Are they into $2 million, $3 million or $1 billion from government contracts? Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what your experience? No wonder you have a China account, so that your kids can get money through there. I guess you’re not really in integrity. There are a lot of doubt and skepticism that’s swirling around you and your ability to do it.” Immediately, he’s purchasing truth and he’s pulling trust back on his side, rather than trying to fight out of the paper bag that he’s doing all the time, which is unsettling.
There was another thing that Donald Trump kept saying. He said it once before and I felt like Joe Biden didn’t have a good enough reply to it. I’m curious what you would have said, Bill. Donald Trump keeps saying to Joe Biden, “You’ve had 47 years to do this.” He’s trying to cast him as a career politician who hasn’t been able to achieve things in all that time, “Why do we think he’s going to achieve something now.” What would you say?
“You’re feeling doubtful and skeptical about a life of service as a public servant. You as a capitalist have took advantage of us public servants by getting support from the government and taking advantage in order to expand and market your brand. This presidency is another way that you’ve taken advantage of us public servants that have slugged it out for 47 years, while you sit in the line and grifting money away from the United States, just like the rest of your crew. One thing that you did tell the truth is when you were elected president, you have created the most legal and logistic things. You are so truthful that what you mired the government in is the most legally encumbered government. You didn’t provide your service and your oath as a public servant. You are a self-servant, but you weren’t a public servant.” All of a sudden, I just relabeled them.
“You’re not a public servant, a public servant hangs in there for 47 years and slugs out in difficult conversations. You are not even interested in difficult conversation. You can’t even have a difficult conversation with me and you right now because you’ll walk away with this. You’re going to tell everybody that a vaccine is coming and that you’re going to save them and it’s not true. If they elect you, it’ll evaporate just like every other promise you’ve made to Americans.”
I felt that on the virus is where Joe Biden hammered President Donald Trump much better than a lot of topics. He did focus on the enormity of the deaths and of the people that don’t have a family member sitting at the Thanksgiving table. Joe Biden plays more in talking to the American people directly and relates to them. I think that’s believable that he does care about the American people.
The need for care and the integrity around care. He’s done a better job of that. There have been a lot of voters that tend not to vote because they don’t see a candidate that cares. Hillary Clinton had that problem too. You couldn’t tell if she cared or not. She’s a very smart woman and experienced. She knows where all the people are in government. She’s a tremendous resource because she knows all the people. Donald Trump did not spend any time learning where all the people are to get the job done. What I would have advised is that one of Donald Trump’s weakest place is, “Could you tell me who your department of so-and-so is? Could you tell me who is the person in charge of this? When was the last time you met with the interior person? When was the last time that you did this with this person? You don’t know the name of your own interior? When was the last time you talked to your commerce department? What was the initiative of your commerce department and what’s your plan for them?”
Joe Biden could have picked all the interpersonal runs like, “Who’s your top skilled person? I’ve been gone from government for four years and here are the top five people I know that are skilled in that position. You don’t have any of them working for you. Are you going to pick the people that are loyal to you or are you going to pick the people that are best to your country? You have no ability to build teams. You have no ability to work the function and we’re going to give you four more years? You’re going to ask them for four more years and you don’t even know who the top people are in commerce? Here are the top people in this. Here are the top people in health. You’re not even using your resource. You can’t build a team to save your life. How do we know that you can’t build the team to save your life? You let the virus infect your White House and you couldn’t even take your own guidance from the people around you, and you’re going to ask Americans to trust you again. I feel doubtful and skeptical that you’re going to help us with health, so on and so forth.”
I’m ranting a little bit. I would probably coach this as a measured narrative, not as a ranting narrative, which I just coughed up. I got worked up about it because it’s second nature for me. You to talk about these issues and get worked up about it because communication is not connected to truth and trust. It’s the ability to use truth and trust in a way that serves you has not been messaged the way I would like it to be messaged. This could be the same. Donald Trump could have expanded the things that I’m saying and used it for his behalf. If I’m on Donald Trump’s side and if I was giving him guidance, it will be like, “Talk about Joe Biden not having the awareness of the value of the fossil industry, and you’re trying to protect the fossil industry. How valuable that would be to our economy that you can’t take the fossil industry away automatically, and how valuable it is to the number of jobs. We have this amount of people working in the fossil industry. What would it be like if those jobs went away?” All of a sudden, you scared the crap out of a third of the nation. They’re going to go, “He’s right about that.” You can’t do it as the ranting person. It’s not like Donald Trump doesn’t rant the way I ranted because I ranted that way. I gave you a lot to unpack but there’s a lot to do there.
I think Donald Trump succeeded at casting doubt and skepticism in Joe Biden’s direction. A lot of times, the more he talked, he talked himself into a circle. It was like a dog chasing its own tail at times.
I am delighted that you brought that point up. This is the advantage of doing that. When a person is talking themself in a circle like that, it’s a technique called cultivating uncertainty. It’s what a hypnotist does when they’re hypnotizing somebody. They say, “Think about this. Don’t think about this, think about this, sleep.” The person then goes to sleep. You’re going like, “What’s the hypnotist doing to get this person to go to sleep?” They then put the message in, “Scratch your head like a monkey.” All of a sudden, the person is scratching his head like a monkey. You go like, “How did the hypnotist get past the person’s logical mind? You’re going right to the limbic brain and you’re bypassing the higher functions. Our higher functions are working. He’s using circle talk to create uncertainty about Joe Biden. He’s creating uncertainty about Joe Biden’s ability to communicate the way he communicates. Joe Biden doesn’t communicate the way he communicates, so it’s a little boring and he’s right.
To me as an observer, when Donald Trump would do that and keep talking around in circles sometimes about things that seemingly weren’t even relevant. I thought he was getting a little lost and avoiding answering the question. Other than avoiding answering the question, I didn’t think it was always intentional.
It’s a common sales tactic to talk about something different right before you get them to sign the contract, “Can you imagine what it’ll be like when you get this contract? That’s great. How are your kids doing?” I’m being blatant and unethical, but you don’t want to over-explain something, which also commonly gets in the problem with it. It’s not just Donald Trump, but Mike Pence is the master of uncertainty. He’ll even say, “That’s not what he said. He said that he was going to grab them by the pussy, but that’s not what he meant. That’s not what was going on there.” What was going on there? He was connecting to his friend who was talking about the same thing. He was telling a story that he thought his friend would like, but he said he would grab them by the pussy. He was building rapport with the person he was selling and being on the bus.
He hasn’t even gone to that. It was just locker room talk defense. He’s instead trying to make it seem like it wasn’t what you think it is. It’s almost the Jedi mind trick.
It is a little bit of the Jedi mind trick but not from the place of integrity, respect or the pursuit of truth. He used to do this all the time. He would very straightforward, “It’s not my job to fix the falsehood inside the voter. My job is to get the voter to vote for me. If the voter believes something that’s not true, it’s not my job as a politician to fix the untruth. If they want to believe something that’s not factual. That’s okay with me. I just want their vote because I got to get in office. Why do I get in office? Because when I’m in office, then it can do some things.” Do things that I believe that’s valuable to the United States not what’s valuable to the United States. That’s the shift from a politician to a statesman. We haven’t talked about this particular much. When a statesman gets into office, they vote for what’s the best for the country. Not what’s best for the party and the voter’s belief. They’re doing what’s the best for the country. We’re in a difficult situation regarding voters. Voting requires money. I need to not just do what’s best for the voter, but I need what’s best for the highest paying donor voter. Our truth is being purchased on a couple of different levels.When a statesman gets into office, they vote for what's the best for the country, not what's best for the party. Click To Tweet
One of the things that Donald Trump seemed to do repeatedly in this debate, and I’m curious as to whether you think this was tactical, intentional, helped him or hurt him. Donald Trump kept bringing up Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It seemed at times, he was arguing that he was running against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and not Joe Biden. That seemed silly or that was a mistake. At the same time, Donald Trump is speaking as though he was an outsider still, like he’s not the incumbent, “When I get elected, I’m going to do this.” Instead of he is elected. He is the president. Was that a tactical mistake for Donald Trump?
No. It was an advantage for him to do it. Everybody’s going, “What is he doing?” Joe Biden brought it back once or twice and say, “You’re running against me. I beat Bernie Sanders. You’re running against Joe Biden. You’re not running against them.” The only thing is that he needed to turn it into casting doubt about Donald Trump’s skill and ability at that point, “You’re still trying to run against Hillary. You’re trying to cast doubt and skepticism on me by associating me with Hillary or Barack Obama. You did a masterful job of creating doubt and skepticism about President Obama being born in Kenya even though the fact has demonstrated it. You’ve got a lot of mileage. A lot of people believe that because you kept repeating that branding and marketing messages to downgrade his effectiveness as a president.” That’s great marketing.
He’s setting them up to say that we all know Barack Obama was born in the United States. This is a pattern of what Donald Trump does and therefore it cast out skepticism about the things that he’s saying now.
“You’re trying to bring forward a lot of that energy that you spent four years ago. You’re trying to cast it in my direction. The only problem is I’m here and the American public can see through you. The voters can see through you. They’re not looking at you like I’m seeing through you right now. Many of the voters that are watching this thing or the millions of voters that are watching us are seeing through that this is a marketing and sales technique.” The reason why Donald Trump scored points is Joe Biden didn’t have that narrative ready. Regrettably, he won points by bringing the doubt and skepticism that has been cultivated by or about the Democratic party and sticking it on Joe Biden’s podium to deal with. Joe Biden goes like, “That’s not true. You’re a lot of malarkey.”
When malarkey comes out, that’s like, “Thanks, Grandpa.” It’s genuine but if he calls it garbage, it probably lands better than malarkey. I remember in the first debate, Donald Trump kept trying to hang the Green New Deal around Joe Biden’s neck. He kept trying to say, “You are in favor of and it’s part of your plan.” Technically on the fact side of thing, it’s not. There’s a variation on that plan that Joe Biden is on his platform. Joe Biden did something you just talk about in that debate. Donald Trump was talking about AOC, these other people, the Green New Deal and saying, “You’re the same as them.” Joe Biden stood up and said, “I’m the Democratic party now and I’m telling you what I stand for, not what all those other people want the Democratic party to stand for.” That was a good moment for him in that debate.
He did better there. He’s like, “You’re the Republican party. The Republican party is trying to make a deal and bribe a foreign leader in order to think. That’s what you were impeached with. That’s what the Republican party is supporting. They’re supporting you bribing other national things, even though it’s illegal to do. Luckily, you had all of them go with you and the Republican party stands for that. I hear you’re trying to hang that these other people are going to influence me, but I’m the leader of the Democratic party.” I’m standing a little stronger than Joe Biden did a little bit there. That’s the way those leadership moments have got to be handled, regrettably, it wasn’t. It’s like, “That’s not crossing my desk.”
One thing Joe Biden did successfully is that Donald Trump kept trying to say that everything that was wrong with America was in blue states and blue cities. By contrast, the red states are doing things much better. Joe Biden was very good at saying, “I’m going to be the president of all Americans. I’m not going to leave the people in the red states behind. We’re going to lift us all up.” That seemed to be a good moment for Joe.
It was better for him to pull, “I’m going to be a president for all the states. When you have a pandemic or at any time to divide us as a nation, you’ve been dividing us for 4 or 5 years now. It’s okay if you have an opinion. You have freedom of speech, but I’d rather you have freedom of speech as a private citizen than as a public servant because you are terrible at unity. You are terrible at getting people to work together. You can’t even sign a bill before an election. You’ve got to hold the American voter captive with money and wait until after the vote. You don’t have enough courage to pull it off.” I would have called him on that one too.
This is difficult because to get us to stick our landing here which is valuable. You keep throwing me the ball and the debate looks like a fastball, but in our conversation, it is a slow pitch. I keep swinging the bat and hit. You go like, “Damn.” I got a single. I hit a double. I hit a triple, then some of my sentences were home runs. This is the way language can be used in communication. Even though we’re talking about the relationship and using the debate as a communication foil, the same thing can be done by Republicans, even in the place that they’re in, which is called shell shock, “I don’t know what to say to this guy because otherwise, he’ll send a tweet and cut my head off.” It’s like, “Do you want the best tweet to send back to President Donald Trump? I’ll be glad to show you the next tweet to send back to him when he says the next chaotic thing.”
The way to stick this landing is there are two levels of communication going on here. There’s a context, that’s what’s being spoken at the debate, and a subtext, which is what need is driving that sentence. The reason why you and I are doing these things is to get to listen or to understand the difference between context communication, which has a lot of violence in it, and subtext that has a lot of gravity, integrity and peace in it. If we want to get our nation to restore, we may want to have a different communication and media has got to help us with this. Otherwise, we’re going to be fighting for ratings and stepping on each other’s toe, feet to neck if we don’t cut it out. This is not healthy for us to communicate this way.If you want to further division and separation, go with Trump. If you want unity and collaboration, go with Biden. Click To Tweet
There were 63 million people who watch this debate out of the 300-plus million people that are going to vote. The ones that did not watch the debate are working on the belief biases from the past. What’s accumulated is doubt and skepticism, not just for the Republicans or the Democrats but for the political system, which is in favor of Russia and China to have us have discord. It’s a favor that helps them because if we’re not unified, that allows them to pick us off. If we’re voting and acting as a block of 300 million people all at once, we get to maintain a vibrant, energized and engaged economy. If we don’t, then we become cities who have to negotiate a deal with China or a state that negotiates the deal, which is what happened with California and other states. We had to go to the nation of China, independently of the federal government and then try to negotiate a deal, which costs us more and makes us weaker.
Unity is what we’re up to next. Being able to adjust our narrative and choose between what narrative we’re going to run. Are we going to run a narrative of separation or are we going to run a narrative of unity? All you’ve got to do is look at the two candidates. If you want separation or isolation, go with Donald Trump. If you want unity and a greater sense of collaboration to the best of the ability that herding the United States of cats, not of America. You’ve got to try and get them all to work in that direction. It’s a very interesting discussion. I know that people can leave comments and reach out. If they want a further conversation about how to communicate more effectively in government, business and personal life, just reach out to get better communication support for those around you.
That’s a good way to leave it. If you want further division and separation go with Donald Trump. If you want unity and collaboration, go with Joe Biden. Maybe that was the overarching message that came out of the debate.
That’s the way voters got to think about it. There’s nothing wrong with certain elements being in isolation and collaboration. It’s who’s going to get you there though. That’s even a better way to vote. It’s who’s going to get both.
Bill, thanks so much.
More to come. Thanks, Tom.
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