Almost every media account I have heard about General John Kelly replacing Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff contained some derivation of the following wisdom. “Will he be able to discipline Donald Trump?” “Will he be able to contain Donald Trump?” “Will be able to keep Donald Trump’s children out of the Oval Office?” Peggy Noonan, a respected conservative voice, wrote today that Trump is “sniveling.” And my personal favorite…”America has never before seen a royal family take charge of the White House which will doom all of Kelly’s efforts.” Really? Does ANYBODY remember the Kennedy Administration?
Everybody looks at events through their own eyes and experience. When it comes to Trump, the insider Washington press corps, including Fox News, is myopic. What do they expect? The Republican Party elects a President, and the first thing they do is form committees to investigate him. What kind of a political party does that? Meanwhile, overt and illegal activity by the Obama Administration, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic National Committee is ignored top to bottom by Congress, the press and the Justice Department. Then, as if on cue, the newly appointed Attorney General, with zero prior warning or discussion with the man who just appointed him, recuses himself from these investigations ultimately resulting in the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the provably bogus charges made by the Democrats helped by the fired FBI director who illegally leaked information to the press with the stated goal of having a special prosecutor appointed. To those accusing Trump being paranoid, are you kidding?.
What we are witnessing is the residual from the November election and the continuing realignment of political parties in the United States. The departure of Priebus is just the latest in the ongoing saga of how people with varying political views will shake out as Midwest populism continues to rise.
Washington insiders are Washington insiders notwithstanding the political party to which they belong. The November election was a “change” election. The Bush/Clinton era of American politics that began in 1981 has come to a crashing end. The election of the Barack Obama was the beginning of that process when he beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008. The Clinton/Bush era continued with the Republican nominations of John McCain and Mitt Romney. And it was supposed to continue for another four years with the portended nomination of Jeb Bush. He was the odds-on favorite for the Republican nomination raising millions upon millions of dollars. The post presidential friendship of the Clinton’s and the Bush family is more than a quaint oddity. It’s for real on so many levels.
Barack Obama also had to deal with the entrenched Bush/Clinton hierarchy. He finessed it. He appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and then banished her from the country sending her around the world on junkets…and allowing her to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for her “foundation” from foreign government looking for influence in the United States. Meanwhile, the true power remained in the White House with super Obama loyalists like Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, and Loretta Lynch…all of whom extended their influence directly into the FBI, the CIA, Homeland Security and the IRS. Kudos to Obama. He pulled it off.
Trump took a different approach. His problem was zero political influence within the Clinton/Bush hierarchy and everybody hated him. So he tried to bring them into the White House by placating the liberal wing of the Republican Party with folks like Reince Priebus; and the conservative wing of the party with people like Jeff Sessions…political insiders all. He also assured Hillary he would not further investigate her activities because the nation “had enough.”
It blew up in his face. All of those insiders brought their personal agendas with them into the White House. We don’t know who was leaking what…or who was loyal to whom. Chaos was in great supply. But he could continue to justify it by using their influence to get his legislative agenda through Congress. The collapse of the Obamacare repeal was a bridge too far. The Bush/Clinton hierarchy was in firm control…including John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan. His outreach to them did not work. They stuck it to him “bigly.”
All of the confusion is being fueled by entrenched politicos who still do not understand what happened last November. Their cozy little world is under attack by folks the pollsters said were old and dying and ignorant and deplorable. Jim Traficant of Ohio brought a fiery brand of Midwest Populism to Congress years ago. They drummed him out. For those of us who live in the Midwest, we know that brand of populism looks a lot like New York Blue Dog Democrats. That brand of populism looks a lot like Anthony Scaramucci. That brand of populism looks a lot like John Kelly. That brand of populism looks a lot like Donald Trump.
Trump is a results oriented President. He is not now, nor will he ever be, a Bush Republican. He is not, nor will he ever be, a neocon Republican. He has no ideology other than ripping up the Washington establishment which has decimated this nation through cronyism, indecisiveness, insider dealing, and timidity since Ronald Reagan left office. He is beholden to no one. Nothing is as scary as Midwest populism to a system whose checks and balances are based on blackmail and payoffs of those operating and enriching themselves within the system. Midwest populists know how it works.
Rasmussen has Trump’s popularity at 41%…where it has been for the past year. The press gleefully points out how low that is. It neglects to point out that everyone else’s approval ratings are substantially lower. Add to that that Trump’s actual popularity, either by design or accident, has never polled well as attested to by last November’s election.
The press got it wrong then. The press is getting it wrong now. Midwest populism has yet to be defined in formal political structure. It will probably take two more election cycles before the shake out is complete. The rise of Midwest populism is the political story that no one wants to talk about.
Meanwhile, Trump is finally learning the hard political lessons he needs to function as President. The Godfather said keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Perhaps it needs an addendum. Keep your enemies closer…but not close enough to stab you.