The media has been having a field day writing about the supposed ‘chaos’ and ‘turmoil’ engulfing the West Wing staff, focusing on an emerging rivalry between White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, and senior advisor Jared Kushner. It’s like they’ve found a who’s-up-who’s-down, who’s-been-whited-out-of-the-picture Kremlinology of their own, to keep themselves busy.
But instead of giving them the game-of-thrones drama they wanted, President Trump just stepped in and told his boys to ‘knock it off,’ focus on his agenda and play nice. And not just play nice, but ‘make up,’ too. He wanted their reconciliation to be real.
It’s very reassuring to the rest of us, because let’s face it, we like them both, and don’t want to read about them fighting, either.
It shows a fascinating leadership style – one derived from something any ordinary American can recognize, that of the good father. It comes to mind because Trump’s secret weapon with voters has always been in the evidence that he’s a very good father – there hasn’t been a lot of commentary on this, but many voters have noted that with all his reputation for bombast and well-known his tumultuous love life, he seems to have done something very right in raising such fine children. Five kids, a celebrity spotlight, and ALL of five them turned out well? He’s obviously done something very right.
He’s a good father. A good father of course, is very good at telling boys to ‘knock it off’ and break up fights. It looks like that’s what happened here.
And that’s a good thing because the differences between Kushner and Bannon are real enough. Kushner was a registered Democrat for most of his life, an unusually successful businessman, and apparently not all that involved with political ideas. Bannon is another story – he does have a Boston working class Democratic background too but the veteran executive of Breitbart News is known to be an economic nationalist, and like Breitbart himself, defiantly means to break the corrupted culture of the establishment. Both men played indispensible roles in engineering President Trump’s black swan presidential victory last November.
For those of us on the outside, both men are amazingly competent people who could contribute hugely to the success of the Trump administration, whatever their differences.
Let’s remember who these people are and why we like them both, Here’s something from Kushner’s Wikipedia:
According to Eric Schmidt, “Jared Kushner is the biggest surprise of the 2016 election, Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources.” Eric Schmidt said, “Jared understood the online world in a way the traditional media folks didn’t. He managed to assemble a presidential campaign on a shoestring using new technology and won. That’s a big deal. Remember all those articles about how they had no money, no people, organizational structure? Well, they won, and Jared ran it.” Peter Thiel said “If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer.”
Here’s something from Bannon’s:
In 2004, Bannon made a documentary about Ronald Reagan titled In the Face of Evil. Through the making and screening of this film, Bannon was introduced to Reagan’s War author Peter Schweizer and publisher Andrew Breitbart, who would later describe him as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement. He was involved in the financing and production of a number of films, including Fire from the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman, The Undefeated, and Occupy Unmasked.
In 2007, Bannon wrote an eight-page treatment for a new documentary called Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Facism (sic) in America. The outline describes Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America as “cultural jihadists“. Bannon wrote the outline himself, and it labels the Washington Post, the New York Times,NPR, “Universities and the Left”, the “American Jewish Community“, the ACLU, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, and the White House as “enablers” of a covert mission to establish an Islamic Republic in the United States. In 2011, Bannon spoke at the “Liberty Restoration Foundation” in Orlando, Florida about the Economic Crisis of 2008, the Troubled Assets Relief Program and their impact in the origins of the Tea Party movement, while also discussing his films Generation Zero and The Undefeated.
Bannon was executive chair and co-founder of the Government Accountability Institute, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, where he helped orchestrate the publication of Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash, from its founding in 2012 until he left in August 2016. For the years 2012 through 2015, he received between $81,000 and $100,000 each year; the organization reported that he worked an average of 30 hours per week for the organization. He has also worked as vice president of Cambridge Analytica‘s board, a data-analytics firm owned largely by the Mercer family; said family are also co-owners of Breitbart News.
The two are people of talent. Trump seems to be a master at spotting that, and must believe that ideological differences probably aren’t that irreconcilable among family (in this case political family) in the long run. Trump knows that people are complex. He also knows that sometimes, more than one strain of ideas can exist in the same head, which is why people can find common ground if they are disciplined enough.
One Trump insider has pointed out to us that there’s an even more critical factor the media always miss: all the talk of conflicting ideas in the Trump administration is irrelevant as a matter of fact because the only opinion that matters is that of Trump himself. Want to understand what U.S. policy is on anything? Watch Trump’s press conferences, that is policy. Anything else being heard is white noise.
That info makes it clearer to the rest of us why he wants his team to get along, whatever their differences. It takes a special kind of leadership to do that – a recognizable one – the one of Big Daddy coming over there to break up the kids’ fights. But it may just work.