Saturday, March 10, 2018


Yesterday afternoon, Vanity Fair published this report from Gabriel Sherman:
A Republican in frequent contact with the White House told me Trump is “frustrated by all these people telling him what to do.”

With the departures of Hope Hicks and Gary Cohn, the Trump presidency is entering a new phase—one in which Trump is feeling liberated to act on his impulses....

According to five Republicans close to the White House, Trump has diagnosed the problem as having the wrong team around him and is looking to replace his senior staff in the coming weeks. “Trump is going for a clean reset, but he needs to do it in a way that’s systemic so it doesn’t look like it’s chaos,” one Republican said.
A few hours later, the Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng reported this:
The president was joined for dinner in the White House residence by Fox News personalities, including host Jesse Watters and [Sebastian] Gorka, a former White House official and aide to former chief strategist Steve Bannon. According to a White House official and two other sources familiar with the meeting, President Trump invited Gorka and Watters because “he couldn’t get enough of them on TV,” as one source put it, and wanted to confab with them about what he’d seen on Fox News, politics, gossip, and his administration.
This response was predictable:

And why not? Fox on-air personalities are the political minds Trump respects the most. Why shouldn't the White House just merge with Fox News? Fox HR could handle the pesky job of recruiting for all those hard-to-fill positions. Fox stars could form a White House dream team -- why not Watters as communications director? Why not Jeanine Pirro as attorney general, or Sean Hannity as secretary of everything?

Obviously this would be terrible for the country -- but you'd think it would be what Trump wants. So why hasn't he raided Fox for a lot of White House jobs?

Instead, according to Politico's Annie Karni and Matthew Nussbaum, the White House talent search seems almost normal:
The top candidates emerging from inside the White House [for the job of communications director], multiple officials said, are director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration who has become a Kelly ally in his battle against Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Tony Sayegh, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department.
The reason Trump doesn't just hire Fox pundits for the White House is that he thinks of Fox as the outside world. He doesn't see it as a sycophantic media operation that's essentially a part of the GOP -- he sees it as America. It's the voice of the people. Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy and Pirro and Watters and even Gorka, who used to work for him, are all emissaries from a Main Street America where nearly everyone loves him. He wants them right where they are, reporting back to him from that glorious country.

Related to this is one explanation Gabriel Sherman offers for Trump's current mood:
[One] source said Trump has felt newfound validation after a CPAC straw poll last month showed him with a 93 percent approval rating. “He felt the crowd desiring more,” a Republican close to the White House said.
He appeared before a conference whose attendees are his fans almost by definition, and he's drawing strength from the notion that they like him. He thinks this is the real America. He hires from a narrow political pool -- relatives, friends, friends of friends, fellow CEOs, professional acquaintances of people who already work for him -- and he defines "America" as his fan base. I don't know who he thinks the rest of us are -- undocumented immigrants and George Soros's massive payroll of "globalist" trolls and saboteurs, I suppose.

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