I am no fan of Reince Priebus. And I believe that during the Republican Primary he was not always fair to Donald Trump. Trump received extra scrutiny on singing the pledge that he would support the nominee. Not so much because Priebus gave a rip, but because the rest of the candidates feared a Trump third party bid.
And after all the hoopla about Trump and the Pledge, it turns out that many of the Republican presidential wannabees broke that very pledge. Now had things turned out differently and Trump was not the nominee, would Priebus and the rest of the GOP establishment (yes, Priebus is establishment) have been as silent if Trump failed to honor the pledge as they were about the rest of the GOP defectors? Cruz, Bush, Graham et al?
Of course not. Priebus would have been the GOP ringleader trashing Trump. I think very few would disagree with that.
But I noticed a swift about face when Trump won the nomination on the part of GOP Chairman Reince Priebus. He got behind the Party nominee and other than his disappointing statement on the decade ole Trump tapes recorded in secret (by a Bush, no less), he did his job.
Now I would have liked to have seen a different pick for Chief of Staff from Trump. But this is Trump’s call. And Trump has a solid reputation for surrounding himself with outstanding people. He has a knack for spotting that something in people that will prove to serve him well. So while I personally would preferred someone else as Chief of Staff, I think we need to defer to The Donald on this.
Most of us would like a more rabid anti establishment gatekeeper in the White House, but we have to remember. Everything with Donald Trump is a negotiation. I have reminded my friends many times that when Trump says something or does something outrageous, it is often the opening round in a negotiation. If you have not read his book The Art of the Deal then you need to do so if you want to understand him.
And you also need to think in Trump’s terms. He has just completed negotiations on two big deals this year. The first was the GOP Nomination. And the second was the general election. And he has started on his third big deal of 2016, his assumption of the office of President of the United States.
Look back on the personnel changes that occurred during the primary and the general election. He put people in place, they served a purpose and then he rearranged the players. And he closed both deals and won by a lot, as he likes to say. Some see the moves as getting rid of a bad player and replacing them with a better player. And that may be the case, but every time he changes pawns he gets to redefine, or refine, his strategy. It is a process that looks a lot like chaos, but i Trump’s world, it is controlled chaos with a specific goal in mind. And while the rest of the world focuses on the chaos and shuffling going on on the one hand, Trump is doing something completely different with the other hand. He is a master at that. And people often underestimate him. And he takes full advantage of that. It is like blitzing Tom Brady. He will make you pay.
So while many of us would like to have seen a purebred bulldog at the Trump gateway to help drain the swamp by force, it looks like Trump has opened this third negotiation with finesse. Priebus is an insider who has the ear of the Establishment Republicans. And he is a nice, easy going guy, so the Democrats really don’t have an arsenal to go after Reince with, like they would, say, Stephen Bannon. And in case you haven’t noticed, while the Republicans have the majority in both Houses of Congress, the GOP Senators and Representatives are not overwhelmingly pro-Trump.
But most of them like Priebus.
With this pick, Trump is setting up the pieces for his third 2016 negotiation. Bannon is the bull dog. Priebus is the messenger. Trump needs to manipulate a lot of Republicans. And if his point man was the bull dog, the negotiations will turn south in a hurry. To get what he wants done, Trump is going to need the full support and cooperation of the Republicans in Congress as well some of the Democrats. With his first two picks, Trump split the baby in half. Us “drain the swamppers” got red meat and the Rino’s and Establishment got what they want. Granted, nobody is exactly thrilled with both picks, but pretty much everyone is happy with at least one. And somehow Trump kept both babies alive.
And we get instant good cop, bad cop.
Trump will fail without broad support. So I personally think his first pair of appointments were both brilliant. And I am beginning to see his strategy develop.
Trump also has a history of turning antagonists and competitors into strong friends and advocates. I consider Paul Ryan to be a Rat. A classless Speaker and someone who is on the wrong side of history. But keeping him on a Speaker is something I fully expect Trump to do. And keeping McConnell in the Senate too. Neither of these two supported the Party Nominee and my instinct is to punish them both. But these guys understand that Trump can make them both stars. Or he can break them.
They will both stay and they will both choose to be stars.
There will be many more appointments to come. And Trump will appoint a number of people that will cause his strongest supporters to question his judgement.
All I can say is what I have said since the begging.
Watch and learn. Trump is a master at winning people over. He knows how to turn adversaries into adoring allies. He knows exactly which buttons to push to win them over, be it greed, power, or simply a strong desire to keep Trump from stepping on them. And his history shows once he has them in his corner, they remain loyal.
I am inclined to let Trump work his magic. We all know that when they serve their purpose, become useless or are no longer needed, Trump will not hesitate to push them aside. But, damn, even then they remain loyal.
Even his ex’s.