All errors should be reported to

Thursday, December 01, 2016

President Trump and Mitt game the media

Come a little closer to the screen.

I am going to divulge the secret of getting President Trump right.

OK, close? Get a little closer. Better.

The secret is this: President Trump is crazy like a fox.

My niece told me this last March. 

I started applying that logic to his actions. It usually works. Every time he does something crazy, a pundit should pause and resist the temptation to react. Seldom are things what they appear to be with President Trump.

Let's see how this works out. It may be a feint (making a big deal out of "Hamilton" to knock the Trump University settlement off the front page) or a smack upside the head of the liberal beehive (tweeting we should strip flag burners of their citizenship triggered a liberal media to show how hippie-dippy liberal they are). A pundit should always frame President Trump's tweets against a larger background. These are paint strokes of a landscape he has already envisioned.

There are also times President Trump ignores an issue. He pretty much let the Democrats make fools of themselves over the recount.

Which leads me to the dance between President Trump and Mitt Romney. 

You really should lean back now. Being too close to the screen can hurt your eyes.

The media framed this dance as a cat-and-mouse game with Trump teasing Mitt. Wednesday afternoon when Kennedy (the television personality on Fox News and Fox News Business) said Trump was just leading Mitt on, I realized that was not what was happening.

Why would Mitt want to humiliate himself?

He does not need Trump or a Cabinet post.

So why is he doing this?

The terrific answer is that Romney still feels a call to public service. That the same motivation that drove him to run for governor or take over the failing Salt Lake City Winter Olympics or even run for president — a desire to make things better and a belief he can do so — is what compels him to make nice with someone that, from a personal perspective, he clearly holds in utter contempt. Under this theory, Romney believes the best way to preserve his vision for the country and its role in the world — and protect those things from potentially harmful decisions by Trump — is to insert himself between the president-elect and the world. That only by going into the Trump administration can he keep really bad things from happening.
The terrible answer for Romney is that this willingness to subjugate his personal views about Trump is all in service of an overarching ambition for power that has defined his life. Romney critics — and those are the people pushing this theory — point to his past flip-flops on such issues as abortion and gay marriage as evidence that when a deeply held belief comes up against Romney's ambition, ambition always wins. So, Romney wants to be secretary of state more than he hates Trump. It's that simple a calculation.
Since Cillizza is always wrong, we can eliminate those two answers.

Remember my response? "Five people who won't be Trump's VP pick."

I was, of course, right.

So let us look at this logically. Why would President Trump want Mitt on his Cabinet? What would skills would Mitt bring? What does Trump want to do?

Mitt is an experienced, capable, proven, corporate fixer. He could clean house at Foggy Bottom -- which is what they call the State Department.

Definitely if you want to drain the swamp, you start there. Foggy Bottom is saturated with Arabists and people who accommodated the Clinton Foundation.

So Mitt's the man. Call him up. Reel him in.

What does Trump offer Mitt? Relevance. Mitt shot his reputation with his Never Trump ramps. No one wants to end a career as a loser -- twice. Secretary of State would be a challenge and a noble cause, as well as another part of the quest for the first Mormon president. It won't be him, but maybe it will be one of his sons. He is a long thinker too. Most successful people are.

So what is with this song and dance?

While Trump and Romney can bury the hatchet, Trump's supporters are not there yet. And so the men waltz. This is great theater. President Trump is training his supporters to accept Mitt. He does this with another rope-a-dope of the discredited media.

The dance also shows Trump's diplomatic chops. He is showing the world that he has charm and he can get what he wants.

For Mitt, this is rehabilitation. The Madman -- the Orange Julius Caesar -- graciously forgave him. Why should not the rest of us?

I thought Trump had picked Rudy, but I was wrong. (Yes, it happens.) Oh he still may select Rudy, but it looks like Mitt. Or maybe not. At any rate, enjoy the dance.


"Trump the Press" skewers media experts who wrongly predicted Trump would lose the Republican nomination. I use my deadliest weapon: their own words. "Trump the Press" is available as a paperback, and on Kindle.

For an autographed copy, email me at 


  1. Don Surber for Press Secretary?

    I think Trump reads your blog so expect the call. :)

    I agree with Mitt being able to fix the SD, I mentioned it to a friend a few weeks ago when he asked my thoughts on Mitt being SoS. He is a high powered fixer, just keep him focused and he will be fine.

  2. Romney may indeed be a "experienced, capable, proven, corporate fixer." However, he comes across as Caspar Milquetoast/Mr. Nice Guy. The rot in the State Department is so bad it'll take a flamethrower to really clean out the place. A flamethrower like John Bolton. - Elric

  3. I have no clue what Trump is doing with Romney. Perhaps he wants to be free of the baggage with which his other candidates are said to be burdened. Comey said Petraeus lied, yes lied, to the FBI and Rudy has foreign ties or maybe is just not really interested because the job requires absolute submission, often taking big hits for the boss, and he is already a national hero. NB Clinton, who actually had little input into saving people in Benghazi after the attacks. It was CNC Obama who fled his responsibility. Or Iran where Kerry was just selling the national silver at prices Obama had written in his own hand. R is a real Mormon and will not lie to Trump and perhaps give him some intellectual trouble in making decisions, not always a bad thing. But his appointment will not go down well with Trump's forever loyalists. In fact Trump is in the position of having an embarassment of riches when it comes to available talent, compared to Obama who only had mostly embarrassments when left to his own devices. I don't envy him.
    But by the way Caesar was indeed famous for forgiving his enemies, at least once. A second betrayal by taking up arms was death. Yet for all his magnitudo animi, we cannot forget many of those same men were in the group that murdered him, adding with their own hands to the 24 wounds he received. In politics, forgiveness of an enemy is not always wise.

  4. My take on the situation is that Trump thinks Romney has the chops to restructure the DoS from top to bottom. But in the longer term, once the makeover is substantially complete, say in two years, Trump will tell Mittens, "You're Fired!" While this is going on, Trump will play the Good Guy, Mitt the Bad Guy. Once the administrative and organizational restructuring is done, Trump will name someone else to be SoS, someone who can spend the following 2 years resetting foreign policy from top to bottom. Mitt's successor could be John Bolton or Bolton-like, if Bolton hasn't already been given a position as presidential counsel, which does not need Senate confirmation. However, before the reset in policy, the first step that's needed is to clean house at Foggy Bottom of all those obstructionists who think in terms of "America Bad, America Last." While Mitt does that, trump can concentrate on the other cabinet departments that need to be fumigated.

  5. I have to say, I hope you're wrong about Trump picking Romney. I believe it would be a huge mistake. Romney behaved so despicably during the campaign (not to mention so uselessly when he himself ran for president,) I can't believe Mitt would be of any genuine value to the administration. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that Trump is just toying with him like a cat would a mouse.

  6. I've been saying that Trump is a Master-class troller. I believe now I can add that he does the pea and 3 shells trick just as well.

  7. I have another theory regarding Mitt. Could it be possible that he wants Mitt as a neutral 3rd party to oversee TRUMP, Inc., a custodian of sort?

  8. Undine's is my position too. Yuuuge mistake to pick Romney, and it would be a stab in the back to Trump supporters who loathe him for good reasons.

    Romney may be a Mormon, but that doesn't mean he can be trusted (e.g. Pelousi is a Catholic, or so she says- that means nothing, as she has demonstrated.) He's a proven choke artist, and he hasn't had anything good to say about Trump or Trump's supporters until after Trump had won; too damn late, and not good enough!

    I see nothing he can bring to the table except chains from the Establishment, who will control him and hope to control Trump through him. Anonymous above has a good point about Caesar, which also should give us pause!

    I trust Trump, but this thought of Romney driving the Ship of State makes me very very nervous!

  9. Romney is a good manager, fixer and administrator who can't be bought off or blackmailed. He was simply being a good soldier during the campaign. There's a new general in charge of the army. He can serve this boss with the same degree of loyalty.

  10. What I would like a Trump administration to prove is that the young men of the present are every bit as good as the men of the past. Note I said MEN, not "males".

    Reagan did it. I reckon as Trump can do it too. Like calls to like. That is why the other side are godless, sleazy, and criminal.

  11. I would like to see Romney in charge of the VA. We owe it to the military that someone capable of draining a swamp drain that swamp.

  12. All this is fascinating political theater but at some point that is all it is. I am inclined to judge Trump on how he actually performs. I don't really care if he picks Romney or Bullwinkle. I will hold Trump responsible for everything his administration does or fails to do. See how simple this is?

  13. Why is KellyAnn doing the good cop, bad cop on social media and then posting those great shots of her and the boss working together late into the evening?

    Romney? Don't think so, but I could be going full Nate Silver and ignoring the data right in front of me.

  14. It may be a feint (making a big deal out of "Hamilton" to knock the Trump University settlement off the front page) or a smack upside the head of the liberal beehive (tweeting we should strip flag burners of their citizenship triggered a liberal media to show how hippie-dippy liberal they are).

    Honest engagement with the voting public? Not in my estimation. Its a character flaw, Don Surber!

  15. It seems I'm on the right track, I hope I can do well. The result was something I did and was doing to implement it.