We’ve seen this show before. In fact, it’s so familiar, I can’t believe the media still falls for this gag. President-elect Donald Trump floats the idea of Mitt Romney for Secretary of State, and the press goes student body left.
Then Kellyanne Conway tells the media how upset she is that her boss would betray his “loyalists” with his chief critic in such a high profile role.
I don’t think a better reality script could have been developed by Mark Burnett. (Oh, don’t you know that reality shows are micro-produced and basically scripted, although the “actors” can say what they want.*)
This entire sequence has the air of a set-piece, designed to throw the media off balance, keep the public guessing as to what Trump will do, and incite interest, trust, and belief in Trump’s team.
While the media is reporting that this is a circus, Trump goes on with his business. “Look, over there! A recount!”
“Wait! Over here, three million illegal votes!”
Now Trump is going to meet with Mitt Romney again. And Bob Corker. On Monday, Trump met with no less than four corporate chairmen/CEOs, an energy public policy wonk, Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta, and Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County.
Those of us who have been following Trump for 16-plus months get it, because we’ve seen this plot unfold before. It’s not a circus. It’s the Muppet Show, and the media is being controlled like Jim Hensen and Frank Oz controlled Kermit and Miss Piggy. He moves his hand, they open their mouths, and they speak his words.
Does anyone really think that Kellyanne Conway has gone rogue? Does anyone really believe that Stephen Bannon is twisting knives over Mitt Romney? Seriously? Bannon really was the sharpest tool in the shed at Harvard Business School, and he knows how to manipulate the media, almost as well as Trump himself.
Like all things in the Trump-universe, this is a hall of mirrors, where only a few people are inside on the entire illusion. The rest of us (and the media) get to see what they want us to see. And the media dutifully turn the cameras exactly where Trump directs. It’s a marvelous reality show unfolding right before our eyes.
It’s very possible that Mitt Romney will get the nod for secretary of state. Or retired Gen. David Petraeus. Or Corker, or Rudy Giuliani. Or even California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher?
Trump Secretary of State Update: https://t.co/F8yz4iXpoi
— Dana Rohrabacher (@DanaRohrabacher) November 25, 2016
The link on the tweet above will take you to an email archive which reads: “I have been told that I am under consideration to join President Trump’s team as Secretary of State.” It then implores you to take an online poll through Breitbart of various candidates for the job.
Talk about clickbait! This is the mother of all clickbait!
Just for fun, as of Monday night, the results are as follows:
John Bolton: 25.17%
Mitt Romney: 9.26%
Rudy Giuliani: 36.55%
Dana Rohrabacher: 6.14%
David Petraeus: 19.43%
Keep in mind that this is made up of Breitbart viewers, so the poll is somewhat skewed. Even so, Romney is doing quite respectably among the “loyalists.” I expected him to be around 0.5 percent.
But it’s all a show. I can’t tell you that Trump has made up his mind, but I can tell you that he’s not really listening to the noise around him. He’s probably listening to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Reince Priebus, Stephen Bannon, and most of all Jared Kushner. These are the people who get and keep Trump’s ear.
The rest of his mouthpieces are just doing their assigned tasks. They are reading from a script, albeit a reality show script, so they get to make up their own words as long as the plot advances.
I am continually impressed at Trump’s preternatural ability to freeze the press like Magic Johnson used to freeze defensive guards at the top of the key. It’s really fascinating to watch.
But don’t get too hung up on the drama. Remember: it’s a show. It’s for entertainment, just like The Apprentice. We can only hope that Trump makes the right appointments and nominations so real work can get done while he keeps churning out fresh drama every day.
I keep waiting for him to borrow the scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. “I’ve chosen my cabinet. We have top men working on it right now.”
*I am fairly well acquainted with a former reality show contestant who told me the ongoing interviews are grueling. The producers ask questions, and you’re free to not answer, but then they ask you a different way again and again until you say what they want you to say. You might spend seven hours doing one of those 3 minute “private” segments. The shows are micro-produced, and essentially scripted, although the outcome isn’t known. Trump knows the ropes here, he’s done it for years.