Warning to Democrats. Fight Trump, not each other.

Trump is selling an idea: “I inherited a mess.”

This isn’t subtle. He is blaming Democrats. They better get cracking because Donald Trump is not wasting any time.

Trump is selling the “I inherited a mess” story loud and hard because he raised expectations so high in the campaign (“You will win and win and win and win. . . .”) that he is now stuck with explaining the grim reality of governing, not promising. He needs to lower the bar in the face of statistics on unemployment, budget deficits, crime, and health care that show dramatic improvement over the past 8 years.

Trump was using the “mess” word back in early January

Trump is putting a word out into the public mind that is stronger and stickier than mere data: a “mess.” In his press conference, emphasis added:

“As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what’s going on with all the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas, no matter where you look. The Middle East is a disaster. North Korea — we’ll take care of it, folks. We’re going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess.

He repeated saying “mess” in South Carolina

Trump knew the headline he wanted, and he got it. “Mess.”

Trump is doing what Obama neglected to do: lock in the blame on the predecessor. Obama did it weakly throughout his presidency, was criticized for it by Republicans and its media, but never drove home the point. Obama pointed to statistics but never really sold a visual image, which is why even though unemployment statistics showed only 4.8% unemployment on election day, 2016, Trump on the campaign dismissed data out of hand, and said the numbers are 20 and 30 percent and that unemployment is “through the roof.” Obama hesitated to worsen the sentiment during the financial collapse by emphasizing the negative. It was a catastrophic political decision for him. Obama almost immediately owned the recession politically. He was blamed for high unemployment and collapsing home prices within days of his inauguration and then for the slow rate of recovery. Trump learned from Obama’s error.

This creates a problem for Trump: things aren’t great yet but he was in charge on Day One.

Trump has a special urgency in selling the “mess” idea. Trump has a second message: Trump is the man of action who changed things on Day One and Trump is an honest politician defined as one who keeps his campaign promises. Trump wants to show he is in charge and change is happening.

Trump has a conundrum: either he is responsible or he is not. Trump sold the notion that on Day One things will be done the Trump way, and that image is out there loud and clear. And yet Americans are not winning and winning and winning. The news has changed to symbols of action but government appears to be in chaos, not yet “running like a fine tuned machine.”

Feb, 2017, Democrats still fighting each other

Trump gave Democrats an opening with his Day One talk, but I do not see evidence that Democrats are seizing this opportunity. Instead, I see Democrats unable to pick a DNC leader and I see deep division within Democrats. The Sanders people are more angry with Hillary than with Trump. Meanwhile, I do see Trump rapidly attempting to lock in the frame. Blame Democrats. That is why Trump is in charge on Day One but America is not yet Great Again. Change — if it happens at all — will be slow. Obamacare replacement will be contentious and unsatisfactory. There will be fights over taxes, over Medicaid changes, over middle class entitlements, over the deficit, over infrastructure. Trump’s assertion: Blame Democrats. I inherited a mess.

Democrats should have the advantage here, but only if they seize it: Trump and Republicans made such a point of taking charge on Day One that this is now Trump’s government. Trump is front and center in the news, daily. Trump 24/7 helped win the office but it now locks him in as the strong man in charge, for better or worse.

Democrats need a message as clear and strong as Trump’s: Trump’s mess. He wanted the job, he started messing everything up on Day One, he is in charge, the mess is his. He broke Obamacare. He makes the rules. Unhappy? Blame Trump from Day One.

This article is from my blog UpClose with Peter Sage,updated daily. www.peterwsage.blogspot.com Check it out. You can follow it by email