Posted with Conclusion by Quemado Institute
November 23, 2016
MSM Wrong Again: Donald Trump’s Transition
Is Going Smoothly
By Alexander Mercouris
November 22, 2016
Less than 2 weeks since his unexpected election victory, it is already becoming clear that one of the major problems Donald Trump is going to face is the established media’s hostility to everything he does.
A case in point is the way the media is misreporting his discussions aimed at setting up his new administration. There has been much talk about how this process has supposedly be chaotic, with much talk of a backlash against Trump for some of his appointments.
On the contrary my opinion is that the process has been going quite smoothly. Trump acted decisively and quickly to replace Christie with Pence as head of the transition team, rather than remove Christie too late when it was already obvious that he was not up to the job, whilst the appointments of Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff and Stephen Bannon as chief strategist seem to be carefully judged to balance the appointment of a seasoned political insider and professional manager (Priebus) against a loyal publicist and ideologue (Bannon), whilst his appointments of Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and Mike Pompeo as CIA chief bring in seasoned professionals who in the cases of Sessions and Pompeo should not have difficulty getting Senate confirmation.
The latter is important because the way Trump obtained the Presidency set him at odds with the Republican Party establishment, which means he has few obvious allies in the Senate. In order to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid embarrassing defeats in the Senate during the confirmation process, Trump has to win over the leading Republican Senators and the leaders of the Republican Party’s establishment.
That almost certainly explains Trump’s meetings with figures like Mitt Romney. Whilst it is possible that Trump is considering Romney for a cabinet post, it seems more likely that Trump met with Romney in order to buy Romney’s support by negotiating over jobs lower down the hierarchy for people Romney proposes.
Trump is almost certainly doing the same thing with other senior figures in the Republican leadership. In this way Trump can neutralise in advance opposition from the Republican Party establishment and in the Senate to his more senior appointments when they are announced, ensuring that they will have no difficulty getting confirmed by the Senate. With 4,000 appointments to make, Trump has any number of jobs he can negotiate over to buy support in this way.
In the meantime, whilst the process of winning over support for the more senior appointments is underway, Trump is filling key positions in the administration which do not require Senate confirmation—such as those of Priebus, Bannon and Flynn—with people close to his own views, and whom he feels he can trust.
This is very much the way a businessman and deal–maker works, and that of course is exactly what Trump is. In other words Trump is acting exactly as someone of his background and personality would be expected to act.
What this means is that Trump will finally name whoever he intends to appoint Secretary of State—the post that is attracting the most speculation—only once he is confident that he has fixed things sufficiently in the Senate so that whoever he nominates is going to be confirmed. In the meantime it is in his interests to keep this information to himself.
Again this approach—fixing things in advance and playing with his cards close to his chest—is very much how Trump the businessman and deal–maker can be expected to behave. As it happens I suspect that Trump already has in mind the person he wants as Secretary of State. Whether this is the person he will eventually nominate will however depend on how well his deal making goes.
I would add that though Trump’s conduct of the transition is very much in the style of a businessman, the use of patronage to build a winning coalition is an entirely traditional part of the style of US government. Past Presidents who were extremely skilled at it included Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. It is those Presidents who do not have a good feel for how to use patronage effectively that struggle in the US to get things done.
As it is Trump has apparently already made more appointments than Obama did at this point in his transition, and there is certainly no warrant for talking about a chaotic and disorganised transition, such as Bill Clinton’s was in 1992.
In saying all this I make no comment about the calibre of the people Trump is appointing. The criticisms of Bannon and Sessions for being racist seem to me overdone, and besides it is ultimately hardly surprising if a right wing President is appointing right wing people like Bannon and Sessions to positions close to him. As for Michael Flynn, it seems to me that many of the attacks on him are more the product of his known opposition to the Obama administration’s Syrian policy than any real judgement on his professional and managerial abilities. Ultimately however I simply don’t know enough about these people to be able to judge them fairly.
Regardless of how good or bad these people are, the fact is that Trump is forming his administration, and so far is doing it successfully. There is no warrant for talking about chaos when on the facts there is none.
Alexander Mercouris is a writer on international affairs with a special interest in Russia and law. He has written extensively on the legal aspects of NSA spying and events in Ukraine in terms of human rights, constitutionality and international law. He worked for 12 years in the Royal Courts of Justice in London as a lawyer, specializing in human rights and constitutional law. His family has been prominent in Greek politics for several generations. He is a frequent commentator on television and speaker at conferences. He resides in London. —Russia Insider
Quemado Institute Comments
There is no reason to believe Donald Trump will not handle the Presidency with the same expertise he applies to his daily life. He will doubtless make as good a President as any in U.S. history, and will certainly surpass Obama and Bush in efficiency and effectiveness. Given his success as a delegator, Trump is likely to choose the best possible appointees within the constraints of 1) suitable policy and background; 2) acceptability to Congress; 3) willingness to do the job; 4) ability to work with Trump; 5) personal power and competence; and 6) political know-how. Since neocon hawks have dominated Washington for the last 16 years, it may be impossible to meet these constraints and still please the critics among Trump’s would-be supporters.
We’ve been silent on the issue until now, seeing no point in adding to the doom and gloom speculation stirring hysterical confusion in the media. There has been little reasonable analysis to report, not even from alternate sources.
An exception is Paul Craig Roberts, who says:
Trump won the presidency because he spoke directly and truthfully to the American people, telling them what what they knew to be true and had never before heard from any politician:
“Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people. The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. Those who control the levers of power in Washington and the global special interests they partner with, don’t have your good in mind. The political establishment that is trying to stop us is the same group responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration and economic and foreign policies that have bled our country dry.
“It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities. The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you. The only force strong enough to save our country is us. The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people.”
Trump did not promise voters a bunch of handouts. He didn’t say he would fix this and that. He said that only the American people could fix our broken country and identified himself as an agent of the people.
The people won the election, but the Oligarchy is still there, as powerful as ever. They have already launched their attack using their whores in the media and liberal progressive groups in attempts to delegitimize Trump with protests, petitions, and endlessly false news reports. George Soros, using the money he made by his attack on the British currency, will pay thousands of protesters to attempt to disrupt the inaugeration.
What about Trump’s government? As Trump discovered, finding appointees who are not part of the Oligarchy’s economic and foreign policy establishment is very difficult. Washington is not a home for critics and dissidents. Consider Pat Buchanan, for example. As a White House official in two administrations and a two-time presidential candidate, he is experienced, but Washington has marginalized him.
Moreover, even if there were a stable of outsiders, they would be eaten alive by the insiders. Trump will have to take insiders. But he has to pick insiders who are to some extent their own person.