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In an attempt to reconcile these contradictions he hired Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, as his chief of staff on the same day as he picked Steve Bannon as chief strategist and senior adviser. Chalk meet cheese:  Priebus is establishment, Bannon is a bomb-thrower (there are harsher words), the executive chairman of the hard-right, sometimes dog-whistling Breitbart News and the former CEO of the Trump campaign. Bannon’s appointment announced that the revolution continues; choosing Preibus was a signal that members of the old regime were welcome to help ensure that it would be professionally run and, whisper it discreetly, be less of a breach with the past than some feared. As the old saying goes, people are policy. And, as I write these words, the news flashes across the screen that former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin “has been recommended by Donald Trump’s transition team to serve as Treasury Secretary”.

Whether such recruits will be able to steady the controls on the Trump train must, however, remain an open question for now, dependent on who else is along for the ride, and who, beyond his immediate family, Trump will listen to. The operation of his fractious and chaotic campaign is not an encouraging precedent.

And how, once in the Oval Office, will Trump run his team?  One guess — the reassuring guess — is that he will set a general course and then delegate much of the day-to-day business to, maybe, his Vice-President, Mike Pence, a former congressman and current governor of Indiana, and, therefore, someone with both legislative and executive experience and good connections in Washington. He is someone who could, presumably, work well with Priebus.

Backing that up is the idea that The Donald is the dog that caught the car. In all probability, Trump never thought he’d be the Republican nominee (and nor, it’s credibly suggested, did he want to be). He almost certainly never thought that he’d end up in the White House, a job that promises the pomp he relishes, but circumstances that are a lot less fun than the billionaire frolics he has enjoyed for decades.

“If Donald,” wrote Colin Powell (no fan) last June, “were to somehow win, by the end of the first week in office he’d be saying ‘What the hell did I get myself into?’” On the other hand, Trump has sold himself — and quite genuinely sees himself — as the master of the deal. Thus he claims to favour free or, more accurately, freer trade, but not “stupid trade”, and stupid trade is, he jeered in 2015, the result of deals negotiated by “political hacks and diplomats”. The US has, he reckons, “the greatest negotiators in the world, but we don’t use them”. Something tells me that he considers Donald J. Trump to be one of those world-beaters, and that, when it comes to rewriting America’s trade deals, he plans on being very much involved. He has boasted of hiring the best and then letting them get on with it, “but I always watch over them”.

To be fair, this is what many Trump voters want him to do. The Donald has, for decades, marketed himself with remarkable success and occasional accuracy as mogul and wheeler-dealer. He has been hired as a businessman, to do for his country what politicians could not.

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Juggling For A Cure
January 16th, 2017
2:01 AM
Liberal media and celebrities were acidic toward Trump before election as well. However they did not remember that acid turns blue litmus red.

Milton Ezrati
December 19th, 2016
10:12 AM
Criticism of anything by Andrew Stuttaford always presents a challenge. The problem is he writes so much and is generally so thoughtful and so clever that one cannot help but agree with many of his points. The above has an equivocal title that makes my point - "Trump is No Loser, But Government is Harder". In this one, as with so much written about Trump, it is less his analysis that irritates than his tone. This piece starts with a confession that the author underestimated Trump's ability to take the Republican nomination and a further confession that he underestimated Trump's ability to win the general election. But then, without a hint of further humility, Stuttaford rolls on to examine how Trump's abilities will fall short of the demands of the job. One cannot argue with such a conclusion. I cannot think of anyone who has abilities fully up to the demands of that job. One can only hope that Trump, behind his boastful manner, has enough humility to proceed carefully and to subject his initial attitudes to review. One can only hope, too, that Mr. Stuttaford might reflect on his earlier failures and subject his initial attitudes to review. But he, like so much elite opinion, seems to feel no need to hesitate even for a moment or qualify conclusions in light of past failings. I suspect, though I cannot know, that he, and much elite opinion, cannot help himself because Trump is so unlike him in style, background, and aspiration, and that might be the most mortal of sins. One passage in the article stood out in this regard. About a third of the way through, Stuttaford tells us that Trump has "boasted about hiring the best and letting them get on with it." Then he contrasts that with Trump having added "but I always watch over them." My first problem is his use of the word boasted. Trump is an irritating braggart, but his comment about hiring the best does not sound like a boast at all. On the contrary, it sounds like a promise to the voters and an executive pursuing a well-respected approach to management. Worse is Stuttaford's effort to imply that oversight is somehow a contradiction. An executive, mush less a president, would be a fool to neglect oversight, even of the very best. That is what Eisenhower did with his generals and what many other successful leaders have done. But with tone alone, Mr. Stuttaford leaves the impression that these attitudes reflect inadequacies. There are other examples throughout the article. It is surely Trump's manner that makes good sense sound silly in Stuttaford's ears, but he owes it to his readers to see beyond style to the substance.

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