Can Hillary Clinton convince in the age of the goldfish? | Jill Abramson

With Donald Trump constantly offering up tidbits for voters with shrunken attention spans, Clintons detailed approach sets her at a serious disadvantage

In small groups, Hillary Clinton answers questions in perfect paragraph, sometimes long ones. It can be a amazing display. She is so prepared that she rarely needs a pause to think about what to say.

One aspect of her accuracy and careful phrasing, with nary a like or you know ever tumbling from her mouth, is that you need to listen hard to take it all in.

Clinton is definitely the candidate for voters with long attention spans.

That could be a challenge in a world where the human attention span has fallen to eight seconds, shorter than a goldfish, according to a recent Microsoft study.

At rallies, her studied speeches can drag on. In Kentucky last weekend, some of the school-age daughters standing behind her with their Opposing for Us signs openly yawned or fiddled with their hair during the talk. One put her back to the audience to chat with a friend. Time described a recent stop at a Virginia bakery as so boring that you could practically hear the muffins get crusty.

As president, Bill Clinton, of course, was also famous for his long-winded, policy-rich speeches. But this was before the iPhone, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat helped usher us into the age of distraction.

No one is better suited to these periods than Donald Trump, the candidate of short attention spans.

Unlike Clinton, who often starves the written press pack following her, Trump is constantly feeding them a 24 -hour diet of delectable and irresistible snacks.

He almost always wins the morning. Then he orchestrates at least three or four news events a day. His Cinco De Mayo buffoonery the tweet proving him eating his taco bowl and proclaiming I love Hispanics kicked off one recent day.

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2016

Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowl are create in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics! https :// t.co/ ufoTeQd8yA pic.twitter.com/ k01Mc6CuDI

Then came Paul Ryans proclamation that he was not ready to support Trump and Trumps immediate rejoinder that he was not ready to support Speaker Ryans agenda. Then he described 12,000 people to a rally in West Virginia where he made the far-fetched promise to put the miners back to run. Were going to get those mines open! Afterwards, there were pithy, quotable lashes at Hillary Clinton.

By making so much news, Trump keeps the press in a reactive state. Its head-spinning for reporters, unless they are the chosen ones he calls between stops. And some of their boss dont intellect: Trump is traffic and ratings gold. In return, he gets more than a billion dollars in free media.

The hyping of tales, like the inconclusive session between Trump and Paul Ryan, only adds to the noise of distraction. For efficiencys sake, Politicos Playbook has launched a feature called The Daily Trump, which aggregates many of the lesser narratives about him.

There have been some long investigations recently that examined Trumps past, including his apparent use of the false identity John Miller, which he denies, and his treatment of women. But to assimilate these narratives requires more than one swipe of the mobile screen. Then, in serial tweets, Trump explosion the unfair hit-jobs, reclaiming the headlines. With so many Americans reading with their thumbs, Trumps advisers seem to believe hes helped by any attention as long as you spell his name right.

Nate Silver studied the headlines over the nine months since Trump entered the race. He concluded: With his ability to make news any time he wants with a tweet, news conference or conveniently placed leak, Trump has challenged news organizations editorial prerogative.

Then he asked, Should the press cover a candidate differently when he makes trolling the media an explicit part of his strategy, on the hypothesi that some coverage is almost always better than none?

Its a dilemma. As the presumptive nominee of his party, awareness-raising campaigns press corps has to cover much of what he says and does. But his own background as an entertainer means that Trump constructs the line between news and entertainment fuzzier than ever. Hes unbelievably clever at exploiting that.

Clinton, meanwhile, has all but disappeared from the coverage in recent days, except for a Washington Post front-page piece about her supporters worrying about how bad a campaigner she is. Her wariness of the media is known. Although shes attained repeat appearances on proves anchored by favorites like NBCs Andrea Mitchell and did a hilarious turn as Val the bartender on Saturday Night Live, she never seems like a natural.

Given that she is the long attention span nominee, its not surprising that she doesnt have a memorable or catchy campaign slogan that sums up what she wants to change or do as president. Is it Hillary for America or Opposing for Us? I cant remember( perhaps my withering attention span is to blame ). Its surely nothing memorable like Making America Great Again, or Hope and Change, Morning in America, or even Bills Its the Economy, Stupid.

The press, too, is bored with her. Some reporters have encompassed her since the Clintons arrived in the White House. Even if they have shorter attention spans, they have long memories. Revisiting Whitewater or watching reruns of the Benghazi hearings isnt an exciting prospect.

The Clinton advocates I called last week sounded worried but resigned. Having been criticized for being inauthentic, she can only be who she is, they say: a sincere policy wonk who has its own experience to be an excellent chairman, even if shes a dull nominee. Compared to Trump, She can never be entertaining in the same route, one advocate noted.

Trump is the exploding watermelon of politics. Recently, 800,000 people, a record audience for Facebook Live, watched two employees of Buzzfeed wrap rubber band around a watermelon to see how long it would take to explode( 44 minutes, it turned out ). One Buzzfeed editor said suspense was the key element of the experiments success. Trump constructs the same kind of suspense: “youve never” know what he might say.

Its unclear whether the public, or for that matter any goldfish who cares to tune in, will find the spectacle entertaining or horrifying.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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