Monday, March 27, 2017


Wake up and smell the working-class blue-collar heartland populism:
President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises ... by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.

The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives....

The innovation office has a particular focus on technology and data, and it is working with such titans as Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff and Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk. The group has already hosted sessions with more than 100 such leaders and government officials.

... Benioff [said], “I’m hopeful that Jared will be collaborative with our industry in moving this forward. When I talk to him, he does remind me of a lot of the young, scrappy entrepreneurs that I invest in in their 30s.”
Strategic consultants! Silicon Valley ties! Jared Kushner as "scrappy entrepreneur" who'd be worthy of venture capital! I can feel the dirt under my fingernails already. Donald Trump really is a blue-collar billionaire!

Seriously, folks -- if an announcement like this had been made by President Hillary Clinton, even if it didn't involve her daughter or her daughter's husband, can you imagine the contempt with which it would have been met, especially by liberals who chide the Democratic Party for abandoning the heartland? It would have been said that after a populist election, in which the two candidates who energized voters were Trump and Bernie Sanders, the president was turning to technocrats to solve America's problems. Waving their well-thumbed copies of Hillbilly Elegy, the pundits would have said that President Clinton had completely misunderstood the message voters were sending in 2016 -- they'd say she was turning to the same bubble-dwelling coastal elitist meritocrats who'd gotten us into this mess and driven the white working class to a state of despair and widespread drug addiction. They'd say that especially if her office was doing this:
The office will also focus on combating opioid abuse, a regular emphasis for Trump on the campaign trail.
But we won't hear many pundits say that America needs hope for the less well off, not "disruption" of government functioning. Maybe a few will say that a pampered scion who vacations in Aspen might not be the best choice to deal with the opioid problem in white working-class communities. (We're also told that Kushner will be working with "an official drug commission devoted to the problem that will be chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie," even though the two hate each other. Yeah, that should end well.)

The rest of the team really seems rooted to the soil:
Kushner proudly notes that most of the members of his team have little-to-no political experience, hailing instead from the world of business. They include Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council; Chris Liddell, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives; Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intergovernmental and technology initiatives; Dina Powell, senior counselor to the president for economic initiatives and deputy national security adviser; and Andrew Bremberg, director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Ivanka Trump ... will collaborate with the innovation office on issues such as workforce development but will not have an official role, aides said.

Powell, a former Goldman Sachs executive who spent a decade at the firm managing public-private job creation programs, also boasts a government pedigree as a veteran of George W. Bush’s White House and State Department. Bremberg also worked in the Bush administration. But others are political neophytes.

Liddell, who speaks with an accent from his native New Zealand, served as chief financial officer for General Motors, Microsoft and International Paper, as well as in Hollywood for William Morris Endeavor.

... Like Kushner, Cordish is the scion of a real estate family — a Baltimore-based conglomerate known for developing casinos and shopping malls. And Cohn, a Democrat who has recently amassed significant clout in the White House, is the hard-charging former president of Goldman Sachs.
Wake me when the populism starts.

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