‘An Institution is the Lengthened Shadow of a Man’
This is a great phrase with a lot of truth in it. Rick Wilson used it a few weeks ago and it’s perfectly apt for Herr Trump and any coming ‘shakeup’ or rearranging of the deck chairs:
“I’m always struck with how a simple phrase from Ralph Waldo Emerson captures politics over time, and how it captures the Trump administration perfectly.”
That phrase? “An institution is the lengthened shadow of a man.”
Wilson’s point is pretty clear and it shows the folly of thinking that any shakeup by Trump is going to change anything of consequence. So bear this in mind as the media credulously talks about a coming shakeup.
Assuming one does it won’t change anything. It’s not going to change by firing Bannon, firing Reince Priebus, or Sean Spcier. It’s all about the man at the top.
Sure it’s easy to ridicule Spicer for hiding from reporters in the bushes-as SNL did again on Saturday night. But remember, Nixon never went to jail but 48 of his paid flaks did.
Remember what ‘covering for the boss’ means. It means you’re a human shield. From Spicer’s stand point hiding in the bushes might sound better than getting hauled into Congressional hearings on obstruction of justice.
With all this in mind, we again are hearing about a coming Trump shakeup.
“The New York Times reported Friday, citing unnamed senior aides, that Trump is considering a “broad shake-up” of his staff.”
“He is dissatisfied with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, communications director Michael Dubke and press secretary Sean Spicer, and has been particularly critical of Spicer, according to the Times, which cited “a half-dozen” unnamed officials in the West Wing.”
“Axios on Sunday reported, citing unnamed White House sources, that Trump’s ire also extends to members of his Cabinet, though the report noted that Trump “often talks about firing people when things go south and does not follow through on it.”
“The White House press shop’s answers to basic questions about Comey’s termination changed almost hourly since Spicer first announced Comey’s firing by shouting the news to reporters from his office doorway and then locking the door.”
“Trump on Thursday then contradicted his entire communications staff in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt where he revealed that he was thinking about the investigation into his campaign’s possible coordination with Russia when he fired Comey.”
On Friday, Trump seemed equivocal on Spicer’s future job prospects, telling Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro that Spicer is “doing a good job, but he gets beat up.”
Sure, he gets beat up, and no, he’s not especially good at this-if he was, he wouldn’t be in the Trump WH at all. But ultimately, it starts from the guy at the top. It’s not realistic that anyone that works for him is going to make him much better than he is.
So now we’re hearing that Devin McMaster is also on the firing line.
“For the Washington establishment, President Donald Trump’s decision to make General H.R. McMaster his national security adviser in February was a masterstroke. Here is a well-respected defense intellectual, praised by both parties, lending a steady hand to a chaotic White House. The grown-ups are back.”
“But inside the White House, the McMaster pick has not gone over well with the one man who matters most. White House officials tell me Trump himself has clashed with McMaster in front of his staff.”
“On policy, the faction of the White House loyal to senior strategist Steve Bannon is convinced McMaster is trying to trick the president into the kind of nation building that Trump campaigned against. Meanwhile the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is blocking McMaster on a key appointment.”
“McMaster’s allies and adversaries inside the White House tell me that Trump is disillusioned with him. This professional military officer has failed to read the president — by not giving him a chance to ask questions during briefings, at times even lecturing Trump.”
Presented with the evidence of this buyer’s remorse, the White House on Sunday evening issued a statement from Trump: “I couldn’t be happier with H.R. He’s doing a terrific job.”
“Other White House officials however tell me this is not the sentiment the president has expressed recently in private. Trump was livid, according to three White House officials, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that McMaster had called his South Korean counterpart to assure him that the president’s threat to make that country pay for a new missile defense system was not official policy. These officials say Trump screamed at McMaster on a phone call, accusing him of undercutting efforts to get South Korea to pay its fair share.”
“This was not an isolated incident. Trump has complained in front of McMaster in intelligence briefings about “the general undermining my policy,” according to two White House officials. The president has given McMaster less face time. McMaster’s requests to brief the president before some press interviews have been declined. Over the weekend, McMaster did not accompany Trump to meet with Australia’s prime minister; the outgoing deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, attended instead.”
So McMaster may be on the outs. But with Trump whoever knows? But what difference would it make anyway? If McMaster is in trouble that will obviously please Bannon and his friends. When Rick Wilson had that great Ralph Waldo Emerson quote a month ago we were hearing that Bannon was in trouble.
Clearly his role has been diminished. But he’s still there. Maybe because Trump knows what Wilson had warned: if Bannon was fired his weapons will be aimed directly at Trump and he’ll spill a whole lot of dirty laundry. Which is why from the point of view of Democrats, a Bannon firing would be a win-win.
First, you get rid of Bannon, but second, Bannon turns all his malevolent energy after being sacked to taking Trump down.
But if McMaster’s stock is down, Bannon’s is not up. Apparently Bannon learned of the Comey firing on tv.
“Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon was sidelined from President Donald Trump’s decision last week to fire James Comey as head of the FBI, according to several reports.”
“The Associated Press reported on Saturday, citing three unnamed White House officials, that — much like Comey himself — Bannon learned of the former FBI director’s firing from television reports, though a fourth unnamed source close to Bannon disputed that account.”
“The Washington Post also reported on Saturday that Bannon was intentionally excluded from Trump’s decisionmaking process, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter.”
“A third unnamed source told the Post that Bannon advised Trump to delay Comey’s termination to avoid backlash.”
That account of events was supported by a New York Times report published on Wednesday in the immediate wake of Comey’s termination. In that report, the Times cited two unnamed sources familiar with Bannon’s thinking who said he urged Trump to delay Comey’s firing.
Note what’s going on here. These unnamed sources are likely Bannon loyalists-and Bannon himself!-making his case: This wasn’t my idea. I warned this was a bad decision but I wasn’t listened to.
Again, like Emerson said: “An institution is the lengthened shadow of a man.”
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
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Thank you. We must have a Dem House. And so, we will.