Thursday August 18, 2016
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Winning campaigns rarely make major staff changes. Ever.
Much less with just over 80 days to go.
After assuring one and all that life in Trump Tower was running as smoothly as a red painted fingernail being drawn gently over a velvet pillow, we awoke this week to find yet another management team has been installed in Trumpville.
To be fair, trailing campaigns rarely proclaim the existing team has made a hash of things and the candidate has lost all confidence in them. The private conversations are typically carved into four well-known slices:
Slice 1: Who will have what title?
Almost always there are more titles than there are roles, so at least one person - in the case of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort - will have been "layered."
Being layered means you get to keep your title and maybe your office, but someone else will be doing your job from now on.
Manafort's days were numbered when the stories about millions of dollars in cash having been moved around from clients in Ukraine and/or Russia became front page news. True or not, most people in politics don't have to deny having received $12 million in cash payments.
No candidate wants to have take time explaining (or deflecting) questions about a senior campaign staffer's previous activities. The only surprise on the Manafort thing is: It took this long.
Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, has been appointed "Chief Executive" of the campaign. There is no such title in a campaign, but the title that does exist, Campaign Chairman, is already filled by the aforementioned Paul Manafort so they had to invent a title for Bannon.
Kellyanne Conway who is a very good pollster and message maven had been a "senior advisor" to the campaign and is now the "Campaign Manager." She is still going to be the message maven, but that, too, is not a legit campaign title. Since the firing of Corey Lewandowski in June the "Campaign Manager" business cards have been lying fallow in the stock room, so that's the title Kellyanne got.
Speaking of the firing of Corey Lewandowski, the Trump Kids took full credit for handing him his cardboard boxes and sending him on his way. That was in the good old days before the two Conventions when they were right up there taking credit for the excellent campaign they were running on behalf of their father or father-in-law.
Now that the campaign has been driven off a cliff, when was the last time anyone planted a story about the glories of the Trump family running this thing with the same skill they build golf courses?
Not since the end of the Trump convention in Cleveland, I don't think.
That is typical Trumpism: When things are going well, take full credit. When things are collapsing take a cruise.
According to David Remnick's "New Yorker" piece:
Slice 2: Notwithstanding titles, who will have what role?
Slice 3: Who will report to whom?
Slice 4: What line of crap will we put out to the press?
"The people closest to Trump are his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. They spent last week vacationing aboard David Geffen's two-hundred-million-dollar collapsible dinghy, the Rising Sun, along with Rupert Murdoch's former wife Wendi Deng."
The only reason the Donald Trump campaign hasn't turned to political tumbleweed rolling down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is because its opponent is the Hillary Clinton campaign.
One of the lobbying firms accused of sharing in the Russian/Ukranian is the Podesta Group run by Tony Podesta. Tony Podesta is the brother of the chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign, John Podesta.
I know John Podesta to be an honorable man with whom I've worked on and off for some years.
So, I am not at all suggesting that the purported sins of one brother be visited upon the other - I'm pretty certain my brothers have changed the spelling of their last names to avoid being lumped together with me.
But, what it does do is add more fuel to the fire that Washington, DC is a bubbling pot of incestuous, cross-partisan, self-dealing.
Neither Trump nor Clinton is my choice for the vessel of change, but we're certainly due for a shakeup.
One the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Excellent links to the Manafort $12 million, to the new masters of the Trump campaign, to the David Remnick "New Yorker" article, and to the money Manafort shuffled to two DC lobbying firms.
The Mullfoto is of me being interviewed by Vietnam TV.
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