How I Could Have
Made Hillary President

his book Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World
Where Facts Don’t Matter
, Scott Adams analyzes the formidable persuasion
skills of Donald Trump and the comparatively feeble persuasion techniques of
the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2016.
The book is very funny, full of insights, and well worth reading. For those who haven’t read it, what I’m going
to talk about here is a tiny sliver of the richly entertaining material in the
book, but it does illustrate Adams’s approach.

Adams compares what he calls Trump’s
“linguistic kill shots” with the attempted kill shots of the Hillary campaign,
and he compares Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again” with the numerous
easily forgettable slogans considered or actually employed by the Hillary

Here are the more powerful of
Trump’s linguistic kill shots:

Low-energy Jeb

Crooked Hillary

Lyin’ Ted

Lil’ Marco


Scott Adams
analyzes these in detail to show exactly why they’re so effective. They all appeal to the visual and they all
plan for “confirmation bias.” Probably
the best of them is “Low-energy Jeb.”
The very day this nickname came out of Trump’s mouth, Scott Adams
blogged that Jeb was finished, as indeed he was, though no other commentator
saw what had just happened. Recall that
Jeb Bush had a war chest of many millions and spent far more than Trump. He was a natural for traditional Republican
voters and for the fabled “Republican establishment,” as yet another dynastic
Bush but a more likeable personality than the preceding two Bushes.

Even after Trump had released his kill
shot into what we can call the rhetorosphere,
most seasoned pundits were still naming “Jeb!” as the most likely nominee. Yet, Trump had given Jeb Bush what Adams
calls his “forever name,” and it was henceforth to be altogether impossible for
anyone to see Jeb or think about him without instantly thinking Low-energy. His presidential ambition had been killed
stone dead, not just for that electoral cycle but for all time, in a fraction
of a second, by the Master Persuader, Donald Trump.

Adams offers similar analyses for
the other nicknames. “Pocahontas” was
the name given to Elizabeth Warren, one of the leading Democratic Party
politicians and a likely future Democratic presidential candidate. Warren, a blue-eyed blonde, had claimed to be
of Native American, specifically Cherokee, ancestry and had gotten an academic
job by impersonating a “minority.” The
Cherokee Nation, which has a database of everyone they have been able to find
with Cherokee ancestry, has repeatedly protested against Warren’s claim. Warren also once contributed a “Native
American” recipe to a book of supposedly Native American recipes called . . .
wait for it . . . Pow Wow Chow. It turns out that Warren is not Native
American, the recipe was not Native American but French, and the recipe itself was
plagiarized from another source.

A look at this book on Amazon shows
that Warren is in even deeper trouble.
The subtitle of Pow Wow Chow
is A Collection of Recipes from Families
of the Five Civilized Tribes
, and the book is published by Five Civilized
Tribes Museum. This blatantly insinuates
that the Apache didn’t routinely solve quadratics or use trig to calculate the
circumference of the Earth, and this is indisputably the filthiest kind of

I would be
irresponsible if I didn’t point out that this kill shot illustrates Donald
Trump’s disgraceful carelessness with facts.
The Cherokee belong to the Iroquoian group, whereas the historical Pocahontas
belonged to an Algonquian-speaking tribe.
How low have we sunk when our president tells such appalling lies?

could see that Trump’s nicknames were effective, and so the Hillary campaign burned
the midnight oil to come up with an effective nickname for Trump himself. They tried three in succession:

Donald Duck

● Dangerous Donald

● Drumpf

Duck” is obviously the sort of thing a committee would come up with. “Duck” tries to make the point that Trump was
“ducking” various issues and various criticisms, including releasing his tax
returns. But of course, associating
Trump with a beloved if distinctly ridiculous cartoon character doesn’t mesh
well with the idea that Trump is a fearful Hitler-like menace.

Donald” doesn’t really work, especially because a large portion of the
electorate positively wanted someone “dangerous,” someone who would go to
Washington and break things.

“Drumpf” is
the real surname of Trump’s Austrian immigrant ancestor, a perfectly
respectable German name which isn’t so congenial to Americans, so it was
changed to “Trump.” This idea that
having a non-Anglo-Saxon name in your family tree is a dirty little secret is
not a winner, for several obvious reasons.

As everyone knows, Trump’s election
slogan was “Make America Great Again.”
This is a brilliant slogan which can hardly be faulted. Adams lists its strong points (Win Bigly, pp. 155–56).

As against this, the Hillary
campaign considered eighty-five slogans (yes, 85!, according to Scott Adams, p.
157, citing the New York Times) and
eventually ended up with “Stronger Together.” Here are the ones which were actually tried

Love Trumps Hate

I’m with Her

I’m ready for Hillary

Fighting for Us

Breaking Down Barriers

Stronger Together

These all have the flavor of
mediocrity and ineffectiveness that comes out of committees, and especially committees
of bigoted leftists. “Love Trumps Hate”
literally begins with “Love Trump,” and as Scott Adams points out, people’s
attentiveness declines steeply, so they often pay more attention to the
beginning than to the end of a sentence.

“I’m with Her” and “I’m Ready for
Hillary” both have a patronizing tone, as though you can prove yourself by
being open to a female candidate, just because she’s female; that kind of thing
is off-putting to some voters. And as
Bill Maher pointed out, “Ready for Hillary” evokes the resignation of being
“ready” for that uncomfortable tetanus shot from that possibly sadistic nurse.

“Fighting for Us” makes you wonder
who the “Us” really is. During World War
II, George Orwell pointed out how a British working man might interpret the
government poster that said: “Your
Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution, will bring Us Victory” (the first three sets of
italics in the original, the fourth definitely not!).

“Breaking Down Barriers” has good
rhythm but an uncertain appeal because most people feel strongly that they
really want some barriers between them and some kinds of other people.

“Stronger Together” was the final
throw, and it came just as voters could hardly ignore the fact that violence
was coming from the left. Some of Hillary
supporters were bullies, and bullies are always stronger together. The news was already out that the “violence
at Trump’s rallies” was deliberately engineered by paid agents of the DNC.

Scott Adams Doesn’t
Give His Alternatives!

Scott Adams does an excellent job of identifying the strengths of Trump’s
slogan and nicknames for opponents, and the weaknesses of Hillary’s, he doesn’t
come up with his own, better proposals for Hillary.

This is a bit of a disappointment, and a surprise,
as he emphasizes that it’s all a matter of conscious technique, not instinct.

And so, I decided to cook up my own
suggestions. Here goes!

My proposal for the nickname Hillary
should have given Trump is:

The Don

Here’s how this works. Before Trump announced for president, he was
often called “The Donald,” a phrase which usually went along with either patronizing
amusement or mild and grudging admiration.
Use of “The Donald” died out, presumably because the US population was
mobilizing into two great camps, one of which viewed Trump as a satanic
monster, the other of which saw him as the nation’s redeemer, and neither of
these would perceive “The Donald” as entirely apt.

My plan would be for Hillary supporters
to refer to him several times as “The Don,” and just occasionally, for those who
might be a bit slow on the uptake, “The Godfather” (or variations like “The
Godfather of Greed”). Hillary would then
take up “The Don,” as an already established nickname for Trump.

Trump has many of the popular
attributes of the Mafia boss: a commanding presence and a weakness for vulgar
display (his golden toilets). All the
points actually made against Trump’s character by Clinton could have been given
a slightly different coloration. Thus,
when making the allegation that Trump had stiffed some of his sub-contractors
(which the Hillary campaign did), this would be described as “making them an
offer they couldn’t refuse.” You could
throw in a reference to one of Trump’s business dealings with someone who has
since passed on, and add the jocular remark, “He now sleeps with the
fishes.” When complaining about the fact
that Trump wouldn’t release his tax returns, this could be framed as “the Trump
Family [Family, get it?] has sworn the oath of Omertà never to reveal their sources of income.”

But aren’t mafiosi supposed to be
Italian? Yes, but now they’re often
Russian too. Hillary’s campaign promoted
the story that Trump had “colluded with the Russians.” This appears to have been a pure fabrication,
simply made up (no one has ever faulted Hillary for being over-scrupulous or
excessively candid) but it would have been so much more believable if
associated with the Russian mafia.

It’s a self-evident truth that every
Russian has “ties to Vladimir Putin,” and this can always be asserted of any
Russian without fear of rebuttal. Similarly,
it’s a self-evident truism that every Russian businessman has “ties to the
Russian mob.” It would have been a
simple matter to dig up every occasion when Trump did business with a Russian,
call that Russian an “oligarch” (who could deny it?) and declare that this
Russian oligarch had ties to organized crime (or deny that?). In this way, it would have become impossible
for voters not to think of Trump’s business activities as steeped in

Now, what about a campaign slogan
for Hillary? This is quite difficult,
because of the fact that Hillary had spent the previous eight years as
Secretary of State within the Obama administration. She could not therefore put any emphasis on
“change,” and it would be hard to imply anything radically new. But anything that looked like a defense of
the last eight years could only run the risk of implying that “the status quo
is fine and we just want to keep things the way they are.” This is a disadvantageous position to be in.

A slogan that goes negative and tries to focus on
the evil of Trump is liable to boomerang—remember that meeting of Democrats, where
a speaker referred to Hillary using the word “honest,” and the entire room
spontaneously erupted into laughter?

As Scott Adams hilariously points
out (p. 159), a rather different kind of boomerang was a major feature of the
campaign. One of Trump’s problems, as a
former reality TV host, was to get voters to take him seriously as a real
president. Hillary continually urged voters
to “imagine” Trump as president, and thus provided Trump with exactly what he
needed. He needed people to imagine him
as president, and Hillary did an excellent job of helping voters to do just that.

The Hillary campaign slogan has to
have the following qualities:

It mustn’t directly mention the rival product.

It mustn’t be easily interpreted as merely a response to Trump’s slogan or

It can’t, unfortunately, make a bold plea for change.

It can’t, unfortunately, make a bold claim for Hillary’s trustworthiness or
other personal virtues.

It must have rhythm.

It mustn’t allow the interpretation that some special interest will be

It must take the high ground.

So here’s my proposal:

● A Win-Win for

This slogan would occasionally
follow the words “Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
(It’s bad luck that “HRC” doesn’t trip off the tongue like “LBJ” or even
“JFK.” There is no other memorable
version comparable with “Doubleya”.
“HRC” might evoke “hardcore,” but we probably don’t want to go there.)

The slogan is positive and inclusively
patriotic. It therefore crowds out the
undesirable thought that Hillary appeals chiefly to welfare recipients,
criminal aliens, and billionaire hedge-fund managers. “For America” takes the high ground and
crowds out the thought that Hillary’s election would be a win for Hillary, an
undesirable thought because Hillary might be considered a loser, and also because
we don’t want voters thinking about any personal advantage Hillary might reap.

The term “Win-Win” has several
functions. Literally it refers to a
situation where we win, whichever of two alternate possibilities occurs. There would have to be a story about this,
ready for those times when Hillary or her henchmen were directly asked about
the meaning. But that’s
unimportant. We could even come up with
a dozen different stories and get people arguing about which one was true. Really the term is simply a repetition of the
positive word “win,” and gives the slogan distinctiveness and rhythm.

It also has something which Scott
Adams has talked about on a number of occasions: he has pointed out how
President Trump utilizes the tried and tested marketing ploy of putting slightly
“wrong” formulations into his tweets to enhance their effectiveness. A slightly doubtful formulation or a feeling
that something is not quite conventionally correct helps a phrase to lodge in
the memory. “Win-Win” therefore gains
something from the fact that what it means is slightly obscure and off-key,
while its emotional associations are entirely positive.

So there we are, Trump is The Don and Hillary’s slogan is A Win-Win for America. This would have been enough to give her the
electoral college, though it wouldn’t have hurt to have also done a bit more
campaigning in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Hillary threw tens of millions of
dollars at various “consultants” who were out of their depth and out of touch
with public feeling. As I’ve just proved,
I could have gotten Hillary elected by a few commonsense marketing touches. Given my unpretentious proletarian origins
and unimpressive net worth, I would have done it for, say, half a million
dollars. That would have been a terrific
deal for Hillary, and would have enabled me to pay off a good chunk of my

But, I can already hear you saying,
you’d be enabling this disgusting warmonger, purveyor of PC bigotry, and
criminal sociopath to take power. Could
you really live with yourself?

Yes, I have to admit, I would feel
bad about that. So, make it a round