Thursday, April 12, 2018

New White House Casting Call – Sound Bites, Conflict and Strong Views

The new White House team being assembled by an energized Donald Trump (more comfortable after a year into his presidency) looks like a Fox News casting call. If you like conflict as the President obviously does, this is your crew. The new members – Bolton and Kudlow – have an advantage no members of the first White House staff enjoyed – Trump sees them regularly on Fox News and CNBC. He recognizes them and hears their voices defending his policies and his behavior. Another Fox News contributor, Joseph diGenova, almost made the new team, but was out at the last moment.

Being good on TV is the way to get into this White House. But, a TV talking head may not be good for White House policymaking.

  • Pundits talk in sound bites. Trump criticized H.R. McMaster’s long explanations. Two minutes is too long. Hold the background and complexity. Pictures and maps are preferred.
  • TV commentators make a case. They bring a well-established point of view. Trump is unlikely to hear much about the alternatives or the other side of an issue.
  • The President claims to like conflict. TV pundits will give it to him. They tend to argue against strawmen, other pundits and other cable channels. He will also get more chaos. This group likes to start new controversies.
  • They often represent the outer edge of their expertise. Their views are frequently polarizing, and they join Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannity, and Fox and Friends in reinforcing Trump’s particular and often peculiar take on events, people and issues.

Trump may not be in office long enough, but these men could easily migrate to State and Treasury. Confirmation hearings would be interesting.

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