Sunday Donald Trump announced his first two appointments and the controversy continues. While some 4,000 people will be hired at the President-elect’s discretion most of the high profile ones will require Senate confirmation; these two did not. Trump had a completely free hand in them and they may give us a glimpse into what a Trump presidency will look like. The crystal ball is still hazy. Nonetheless let’s gaze into it together.
First Trump named the current Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff. Considering the other two most widely rumored candidates for the job were Cory Lewandowski and Steve Bannon this was as good a choice as he could make.
Priebus is a Wisconsin native who is known to have a good relationship with House Speaker Paul Ryan. If nothing else it was a good political move to reach out to the man who controls the agenda in a chamber of Congress that Trump needs on his side to be successful in passing legislation.
The state of both political parties is currently in flux but since Trump ran as a Republican and they control both the House and the Senate that should be Trump’s primary political concern. Priebus has been handling the balancing act between the establishment and alt-right wings of the GOP for some times now and winning elections in the process.
The Chief of Staff is the President’s gatekeeper; if you want the President’s ear you have to go through the Chief of Staff to get it. Effectively the Chief controls the message the President hears. This is particularly crucial in the case of a President who is basically ignorant of how Washington and the country run. Trump (along with his frighteningly short attention span and even smaller desire to learn anything) will definitely be influenced by what he hears. In many case that will be the total extent of his knowledge on any given topic. Priebus is a hard core conservative and he will placate the alt-right so Trump will get advice from the right and the radical right only.
Bannon was named Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. Think of the Trump – Bannon relationship as George W. Bush and Karl Rove. Scared yet? It gets worse. W, who was not known as an intellectual; was much better versed in government and brighter than Trump; Rove was pure evil and no dirty trick was too immoral if it furthered his man but Bannon is an extreme right radical. The core of Bannon’s fan club is the racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes and white supremacists of America. Kind of makes a progressive long for the “good old days” of W and Karl.
Trump did the Senate Republicans a favor by rewarding Bannon with a position that did not require Senate confirmation! I think even the 51 or 52 Republicans (Louisiana won’t be decided for a few weeks) that will be in the Senate would be hard pressed to confirm him. Not only are his political stances in many cases reprehensible; he has some considerable personal baggage.
Bannon will be among the very small handful of people who will have almost unfettered access to President Trump. That means the extremist agenda and the votes it brings with it will almost always be in the President’s ear. Worse yet, Trump has confidence in Bannon who he largely credits for his election. If you really don’t know much, don’t want to learn and don’t care; why not ride the horse that you got there?
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