Thursday, December 08, 2016


As a liberal, I'm supposed to believe that Reince Priebus is a hapless doofus, but he backed the winning (or "winning") horse in the 2016 election, he wangled a job in the White House, and now, according to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman, he seems to be taking over the joint:
Sources point to Trump’s early appointments of hard-liners Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Mike Flynn for national security adviser as evidence of [Steve] Bannon’s influence. But Priebus has flexed his muscle in more recent appointments such as Betsy DeVos for education secretary and RNC donors Wilbur Ross at Commerce and Steve Mnuchin at Treasury....

Trump campaign staffers are also angry that Priebus is attempting to staff the West Wing with mainstream GOP officials rather than Trump loyalists. According to sources, Priebus wants Trump to appoint RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer to serve as White House press secretary rather than Kellyanne Conway (who turned down the job, sources say); he is also promoting RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh for deputy chief of staff, and former George W. Bush deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin for deputy chief for operations. “If Priebus controls the schedule and the message, what does Bannon actually control?” one Bannon loyalist asked.

... With only about 40 West Wing positions available, Priebus is moving quickly to fill them with his choices. This may be one of the ways in which his knowledge of how the West Wing works puts him at an advantage.
But we were told when Priebus was hired that he doesn't know how the West Wing works -- "he’s never worked in the White House or even in Wisconsin state government," Matt Yglesias wrote last month. However, Priebus, like his good buddy Paul Ryan and his pals the Koch brothers, knows the mission of the GOP -- tax cuts, deregulation, crushing unions (which is the point of Betsy DeVos's war on public schools) -- and he's laying the groundwork for the accomplishment of that mission.

Priebus is not only outflanking Bannon, he's taking advantage of Trump's ignorance and distractibility. This is my favorite detail from the Sherman story (emphasis added):
... some at Trump Tower are alarmed that Priebus has so far not offered jobs to a number of Trump loyalists who may have been expecting them, including Michael Cohen, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, and Dave Bossie. “We didn’t fight two years against the swamp only to bring the swamp into the White House,” one senior Trump adviser told me. Sources said Trump himself may not be aware that members of his original team haven’t been offered jobs.
Good grief.

Yesterday, Sherman's New York colleague Jonathan Chait summed up Paul Ryan's approach to Trump succinctly:
Paul Ryan: Trump Can Steal All He Wants As Long As I Get Tax Cuts
That's been the attitude of the GOP as a whole, with the exception of a few holdouts, since it became clear Trump would be the party's presidential nominee. The vast majority of the party has had no problem with Trump's bigotry, sexism, ignorance, or thievery as long as he could be the vehicle to help the GOP bring back the Gilded Age. And now Reince Priebus is on the inside, helping to get that done, and helping to make sure that the Trump administration is as much like a Scott Walker administration as it can possibly be.


UPDATE: There's more on this at Politico.


Vasyl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vasyl said...

Sounds like a good plan: conservatives will get a tax cut and an illustration of the government corruption and other blocks will know that "the tsar is good, but evil boyars hide the truth from him", and would say that at least there is no democrats in the White House.

Jimbo said...

Not just tax cuts but Dodd-Frank disappears and many other economic and financial regulations as well. Subsequently, we will get a repeat or variation on the rampant Wall Street-bankster wholesale corruption and the tanking of the economy probably well before 2020. At that point, CA secedes.

Ken_L said...

Many years ago, there was a tremendous British comedy show on the BBC called "Yes, Minister" (later it became "Yes, Prime Minister"). It focused on the conflict between an elected minister and his department head, and the games each one played to get what they wanted over the other's vicious opposition.

First thing the department head did once the minister had been appointed was sideline his political advisers, to make sure his advice in future came from the professional career officials. If Bannon gets dispatched soon on an extended fact-finding tour of Europe, or commissioned to head an inquiry into climate change, you'll know Priebus is winning.