For your convenience, here’s a guide to the working relationships that will guide the Trump presidency:
1.Donald Trump, Supreme Leader. Although Trump gets the lion’s share of press attention — what else would you would expect from a flaming narcissist — once he gets into office, Trump will likely retreat into the background and become a “figurehead” President following the model of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. He’ll be active on Twitter and make appearances on Fox News and political rallies. But don’t expect Trump to be accessible to the press, in general; he hates the mainstream media. He’ll rely upon his subordinates, particularly Kellyanne Conway, to deal with tough questions.
Trump will be a typical Republican President who likes the idea of being bloviator-in-chief but doesn’t actually want to do the day-to-day heavy lifting Americans expect of their supreme leader. Trump will delegate most of daily grunt work to his subordinates and members of his family.
To get elected, Trump made a deal with ultra-right-wing power brokers Robert and Rebekah Mercer. (The deal that brought Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon onto the Trump team.) The terms of the Faustian bargain were that the Mercers, and other GOP oligarchs such as Sheldon Adelson and Charles and David Koch, would use their resources to get Trump into the oval office; in return, Trump would adopt their extreme right-wing agenda. For example, on the campaign trail, Trump never advocated privatizing Social Security; that’s part of the Mercer agenda currently being pushed in Congress.
Trump will glory in the day-to-day pomp and circumstance of being president while, behind the scenes, his subordinates will push extreme changes to domestic and foreign policy.
2. Mike Pence, Prime Minister. Day-to-day political power will rest with “the crazy Mikes,” Mike Pence and Mike Flynn. Pence will handle domestic policy and it will be extremely conservative. (Welcome to “The Handmaid’s Tale.”) For example, the Trump-Pence team will call for the repeal of Obamacare and drastic revisions of Medicare and Social Security. In addition, they will push to abolish the IRS and adopt a radical tax system — designed to benefit the ultra-rich — such as a flat tax. Trump-Pence will push to eliminate the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing & Urban Development. They will take a hard-line on immigration. Pence is virulently anti-abortion and also opposes marriage equality — and rights for LGBTQ individuals, in general.
3. Mike Flynn, Foreign Minister. As if Mike Pence weren’t bad enough, the other Mike is even crazier. Mike Flynn wants a war with Islam; he thinks all Muslims hate us. Flynn has supported the notion that it’s not just undocumented Hispanic immigrants that sneak across the southern U.S. border but also Islamic terrorists — Flynn claims there are road signs in Arabic at the border.
Flynn has nurtured the idea of a U.S. partnership with Russia. Noting that America ‘beat Hitler because of our relationship with the Russians,” Flynn suggested that we renew that partnership in the new world war against “radical Islamism.”
In the past, Trump has made cavalier statements about nuclear weapons, “Why do we have them if we’re not going to use them?” It’s not comforting to know that when the subject of nuclear weapons arises, Mike Flynn will be by Trump’s side. (If Trump is Nero, Flynn is Voldemort.)
4. Steve Bannon, Political Strategist. The GOP is now Trump’s Party. And the person directing the overall Republican strategy is Steve Bannon, Trump’s alt-right-hand man. After Trump’s coronation, look for Bannon to push a two-prong strategy.
With his tweets and bizarre public utterances, Trump will be featured most every news cycle. Much of this will be fluff, “Trump threatens [fill in the corporation]. Make it in America or face new taxes.” But the constant news churn will enhance the perception that Trump is doing something about jobs or public safety or immigration or whatever.
Meanwhile, under the direction of Bannon, the two Mikes will be doing the heavy lifting. Particularly on Capital Hill, Republicans will press forward with their radical conservative agenda. (Bannon is the equivalent of Martin Bormann in Hitler’s inner circle.)
5. Kellyanne Conway, Minister of Propaganda. Day-to-day responsibility for managing Trump’s public image — “putting lipstick on a pig” — will fall to the indefatigable Kellyanne Conway. No matter how outrageous Trump’s tweets or public statements are, Ms. Conway can be counted on to go on TV and say things like, “President Trump’s statement today is a reflection of his disdain for political correctness. He has brought new vitality to the office of the President.”
Conway’s job is to normalize crazy. No matter how bizarre a Trump action may be, Ms. Conway will try to make it appear part of a well-thought-out plan to “make America great again.” (Conway is the equivalent of Joseph Goebbels in Hitler’s inner circle.)
6. Jeff Sessions, Minister of Enforcement. Of course, part of Trump’s appeal to his base is his lack of political correctness; his capacity for mobilizing resentment. Trump’s campaign succeeded because millions of white men believed that he would represent their (aggrieved) perspective. Jeff Sessions is the “enforcer” for the Trump team. He’s responsible for punishing those that oppose Trump orthodoxy.
When there is a national roundup of undocumented immigrants, Sessions will lead it. When there is a roll back of voting rights, Sessions will be in charge. (Sessions is the equivalent of Heinrich Himmler in Hitler’s inner circle.)
Meet Trump’s Politburo determined to “blow up Washington.”