The media may be awash in stories describing the White House as being in chaos — especially with a communications director who lasted 11 days — but President Trump has a drastically different view:
“Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!” But there have obviously been enough White House difficulties that Trump has brought in John Kelly while bidding farewell to Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer — and Kelly abruptly dropped Anthony Scaramucci as communications director yesterday. Scaramucci was a fierce Trump loyalist, and while he did himself some damage last week, this was a case of the general taking charge and wanting to build his own team. The staff shuffles have spawned some media analysis about how much connection the president still has to the Republican Party.
And I would argue he didn’t have much to begin with. The Wall Street Journal says Trump’s tumultuous past week “has widened rifts in his party between those who vocally support the president’s combative style and others who bridle at it.” Fair enough. Trump recently tweeted that Senate Republicans “look like fools and are wasting time” by not abolishing the filibuster so they can more easily replace ObamaCare after several health care bills went down. And many staunch conservatives resent his public denigration of Jeff Sessions.
Politico goes a step further by declaring: “Without Priebus, Trump Is a Man Without a Party.” Priebus ran the RNC and Spicer was its top spokesman, so they had deep party connections. By contrast, says Politico, Kelly, the retired general, “is not a political figure” and “is not known to hold strong political or ideological inclinations.” Scaramucci is “a political novice who in the past donated to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.” Steve Bannon “used Brietbart to try and burn the Republican Party to the ground.” Gary Cohn is a “lifelong Democrat,” and Hope Hicks had no political background. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were “Manhattan progressives… Only Mike Pence has any association with the Republican Party.” Actually, this roster leaves out Kellyanne Conway, who’s been a well-connected GOP pollster for decades.
The story goes on to argue that Trump often refers to Republicans as “they” and might feel even more “liberated” after ousting Priebus. I don’t think Donald Trump needs to feel liberated. I’ve always viewed him as an independent president who happened to run on the Republican ticket. Has anyone forgotten how hard Trump ran at the GOP establishment, and how hard it tried to stop him? Jeb, Marco, Ted, Kasich all failed, and Trump essentially completed a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.
Has anyone forgotten how the real estate mogul, who gave plenty to Democrats over the years, broke with GOP orthodoxy on key issues? He went left on Social Security and Medicare, repeatedly vowing not to touch the programs, and right on trade and immigration, taking a harder line than traditional Republicans. That, in my view, is why Trump won: He had a certain crossover appeal. I suggested during the campaign that he could create a new class of Donald Democrats, and indeed, he won over 8 million Obama voters and carried key Rust Belt states.
The tapping of a general could help Trump run a tighter ship. But he was always a president who was going to take on both parties with his swamp-draining crusade.