Friday, December 22, 2017


Here's the lead story on the Washington Post website right now:
Trump advisers vent frustrations about 2018 strategy as president listens

Within hours of celebrating President Trump’s biggest legislative achievement, at the South Portico of the White House on Wednesday, his aides and outside advisers had a spirited, and at times tense, discussion with him about the political outlook ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

The gathering saw tempers flare as aides vented their frustrations with electoral defeats this year and concerns about the 2018 political map, according to several people with knowledge of the discussion. Complaints about the president’s political operation and the Republican National Committee boiled over, playing out in front of the president as an inner-circle drama.

The late-afternoon meeting — attended by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, counselor Kellyanne Conway, political director Bill Stepien, marketing and data specialist Brad Parscale, communications director Hope Hicks and political consultant and confidant Corey Lewandowski, among others — quickly became a griping session for Lewandowski and others about the way the White House manages the GOP and handles its planning for what is sure to be a hotly contested campaign season, people familiar with the meeting said.
Here's a related story from The New York Times:
Dispute Over Political Strategy Erupts Inside the White House

An Oval Office meeting involving President Trump and his top advisers on Wednesday devolved into a heated exchange between his former campaign manager and the White House political director, people briefed on the discussion said....

It ... underlined the turf battles and strategic disagreements that have long been characteristic of Mr. Trump’s circle, dating to his presidential campaign.
And from Politico, there's this:
Republicans warn Trump of 2018 bloodbath

A few weeks before Alabama's special Senate election, President Donald Trump’s handpicked Republican National Committee leader, Ronna Romney McDaniel, delivered a two-page memo to White House chief of staff John Kelly outlining the party’s collapse with female voters.

The warning, several people close to the chairwoman said, reflected deepening anxiety that a full-throated Trump endorsement of accused child molester Roy Moore in the special election ... would further damage the party’s standing with women....

The backstage talks provide a window into how those closest to Trump are bracing for a possible bloodbath in the 2018 midterms....

... on Wednesday, the president met with Kelly, political director Bill Stepien, communications director Hope Hicks, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital director in the 2016 campaign, to discuss the political landscape. Lewandowski forcefully raised concerns about the party’s efforts....
It's not surprising that an administration with lousy poll numbers should be holding strategy sessions aimed at improving those numbers, even after a big legislative win and even with the holidays approaching. But why are Trumpers leaking news of a meeting like that? Why are they telling reporters about "griping sessions" and a "heated exchange"? They should be trying to unify the country -- around their big tax bill, around the holiday spirit, around something. But they're too busy feeding gossip to the media.

I'm sure the Trumpers would say that their 2016 campaign was regualrly accused of stepping on its own message, and that worked out, didn't it? But it worked out because of Russia, because of the peculiarities of the Electoral College, because of the last-minute FBI intrervention regarding Hillary Clinton's emails, and because Clinton was a much-maligned and thus unpopular candidate running for a third straight term in the White House for her party. And still the Trumpers lost the popular vote by millions.

This is why I'm not worried about well-financed GOP efforts to promote the glories of Trumponomics. We simply won't be talking about how the tax bill has made America great again. We'll be talking about whatever Trump is raving about on Twitter or we'll be talking about whatever backstairs gossip his aides are leaking to Maggie Haberman. These guys can't stay on message. It wasn't a fatal flaw in 2016, but it's been killing them ever since.

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