Trump May Be Following Palin’s Trajectory

Support for her cooled due to antic statements, intellectual thinness and general strangeness.

The president has been understandably confident in his supporters. They appreciate his efforts, admire his accomplishments (Justice Neil Gorsuch, ISIS’ setbacks), claim bragging rights for possibly related occurrences (the stock market’s rise), and feel sympathy for him as an outsider up against the swamp. They see his roughness as evidence of his authenticity, so he doesn’t freak them out every day. In this they are like Sarah Palin’s supporters, who saw her lack of intellectual polish as proof of sincerity. At her height, in 2008, she had almost the entire Republican Party behind her, and was pushed forward most forcefully by those who went on to lead Never Trump. But in time she lost her place through antic statements, intellectual thinness and general strangeness.

The same may well happen—or be happening—with Donald Trump.

One reason is that there is no hard constituency in America for political incompetence, and that is what he continues to demonstrate.
He proceeds each day with the confidence of one who thinks his foundation firm when it’s not—it’s shaky. His job is to build support, win people over through persuasion, and score some legislative victories that will encourage a public sense that he is competent, even talented. The story of this presidency so far is his inability to do this. He thwarts himself daily with his dramas. In the thwarting he does something unusual: He gives his own supporters no cover. They back him at some personal cost, in workplace conversations and at family gatherings.

.. He acts as if he takes them for granted. He does not dance with the ones that brung him.

.. Soon after, Mr. Trump called Myeshia Johnson, widow of Army sergeant La David T. Johnson, and reached her in the car on the way to receive her husband’s casket. Someone put the call on speakerphone. A Democratic congresswoman in the car later charged that Trump had been disrespectful. In fairness, if the congresswoman quoted him accurately, it is quite possible that “He knew what he was signing up for” meant, in the president’s mind, “He heroically signed up to put his life on the line for his country,”

.. Mr. Kelly, in a remarkable White House briefing Thursday, recounted what Gen. Joseph Dunford, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had told then-Gen. Kelly in 2010, when Robert died: “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do. . . . He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1%. He knew what the possibilities were, because we were at war.”

.. It was unfortunate that when the controversy erupted, the president defaulted to anger, and tweets. News stories were illustrated everywhere by the picture of the beautiful young widow sobbing as she leaned on her husband’s flag-draped casket. Those are the real stakes and that is the real story, not some jerky sideshow about which presidents called which grieving families more often.

.. This week Sen. John McCain famously gave a speech in Philadelphia slamming the administration’s foreign-policy philosophy as a “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.”

.. There are many ways presidents can respond to such criticism—thoughtfully, with wit or an incisive rejoinder.Mr. Trump went on Chris Plante’s radio show to tell Sen. McCain he’d better watch it. “People have to be careful because at some point I fight back,” he said. “I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back, and it won’t be pretty.”

.. FDR, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were pretty tough hombres, but they always managed to sound like presidents and not, say, John Gotti.

.. Mr. McCain, suffering from cancer, evoked in his reply his experience as a prisoner of war: “I’ve faced far greater challenges than this.”

That, actually, is how presidents talk.

.. I get a lot of mail saying this is all about style—people pick on Mr. Trump because he isn’t smooth, doesn’t say the right words. “But we understand him.” “Get over these antiquated ideas of public dignity, we’re long past that.” But the problem is not style. A gruff, awkward, inelegant style wedded to maturity and seriousness of purpose would be powerful in America. Mr. Trump’s problem has to do with something deeper—showing forbearance, patience, sympathy; revealing the human qualities people appreciate seeing in a political leader because they suggest a reliable inner stature.

.. the president absolutely has to win on tax reform after his embarrassing loss on ObamaCare. He shouldn’t be in this position, with his back to the wall.

.. Mr. Trump should keep his eye on Sarah Palin’s social media profile. She has 1.4 million Twitter followers, and herFacebook page has a “Shop Now” button.

Why Execs Are Ditching Briefcases for Backpacks

Backpacks are storming corporate America, with luxurious business-like versions elbowing out briefcases and messenger bags. Plus: One adamant backpack-hater on why he’ll never convert

some of this growth can be traced to the rise of dress-code-allergic startups and a more casual attitude about business attire overall. But whether you’re an executive or an intern, a backpack suits the densely stacked schedule many men now face. “We think about how a man is living his everyday life,” Ms. Patel said, describing the thought process behind the store’s selection of bags. “We look at functionality: Does it fit his laptop and workout gear—how about a water bottle?” A briefcase can get you to the office and back, but what if you have tennis at 8 a.m., meetings all afternoon and ceramics class at 7 p.m.? A backpack, she added, better targets a modern man’s needs.

.. And while carrying a briefcase leaves you with a single free hand—a hand unable to simultaneously text and funnel caffeine down your throat—a backpack schleps all your stuff and equips you to furiously multitask. 

Does this haircut make me look like a Nazi?

In the 1930s, Nazis distinguished themselves by wearing swastikas, an easily identifiable marker that made their odious politics clear. The only defining look of today’s white nationalists — a movement that seeks to form a whites-only state — is the haircut, so popular that the leader of one nationalist group tweets under the handle “Fashy Haircut,” short for “fascist.”

.. For the past half-decade, the haircut, when worn by hipsters, has been known jokingly as the “Hitler Youth,” at least according to a 2011 New York Times fashion article, because of its resemblance to the style popular during Germany’s Third Reich.

.. Richard Spencer, who wears the haircut along with his three-piece Brooks Brothers suits. It’s Hitler Youth rebranded as Hitler Yuppie — an insidious way to blend in.

.. Phelan thinks it’s useful for white nationalists to sport a costume of sorts, so that they might be recognized by the rest of the population. He knows that being upset about a haircut is really being upset about their insidious infiltration into society.

.. Adolf Hitler had a version of it — with a floppy, greasy forelock — and so did his close associate Heinrich Himmler, and so did any young man in a Hitler Youth recruitment poster. Apparently, soldiers requested it because it eased the wearing and removing of their helmets.

.. “We call them ‘nipsters’ — neo-Nazi hipsters,”

.. Nguyen says he first noticed this trend in Germany about a decade ago, when young white nationalists were dressing as hipsters, but also as metal heads and hip-hop aficionados.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the Optics of Relatable Style

But in a West Wing vocally obsessed by image and appearance, the mien is the message. Or something like that. Recall President Trump’s lauding of his generals as straight out of “central casting”; his reported early scolding of Mr. Spicer for his rumpled appearance; the rumor that he had declared that the women on his staff should “dress like women”; the fact that one of the first things he said to Brigitte Macron during his Bastille Day visit was: “You’re in such good shape. She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful.”

This is true especially in a visual age, and for an administration schooled in the crucible of reality television, where what you wear and how you look play a leading role. Especially when Ms. Sanders is only the third woman to ever hold the post of press secretary and, as she often mentions in her briefings, the first mother. Especially when she is charged with representing an administration in which the attitude toward gender has been, let us say, a somewhat contentious and much discussed issue.

.. Dana Perino, President George W. Bush’s last press secretary and now a Fox host, once told Elle magazine: “When I got the job as the press secretary, one of my first thoughts was, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to wear?’ People really focus on that.” Externally and, apparently, internally.

.. That may not seem like a big thing, but abandoning the jacket, even in 2017, is a striking choice on a professional podium, one that aligns Ms. Sanders more with the sartorial camp of Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway than with her predecessors: Dee Dee Myers, a press secretary during the Clinton administration who was known for her miniskirts and bright jackets, and Ms. Perino, who tended toward Chanel-esque suiting

.. The net effect is femininity that hasn’t been stiletto-weaponized or armored up as much as turned into an access point: No matter her words, they are framed by a style steeped in cheerful Hallmark history. That is bound to inform how they are received. If much of the administration still channels Wall Street (the Oliver Stone version), Ms. Sanders offers visual reference points of Main Street (the Fox version).

Retailers Ask: Where Did Teenagers Go?

Another factor chipping away at teenage retailers may be the shifting priorities among young people. Where clothing was once the key to signaling a teenager’s identity, other items may have become more important and now compete for their dollars.

“Probably the most important thing a teenage boy has is his smartphone,” said Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus. “Second, is probably his sneakers. Third, maybe, we get to his jeans.”