The political dilution of the Trump administration

by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHD April 6, 2017

I hope President Trump has not forgotten who elected him and why.

Here is a hint - people inside-the-Beltway did not elect you, Mr. President, and it wasn't to maintain the status quo.

In fact, despite what you might be hearing, Mr. President, the views of Stephen Bannon are probably closer to those of the people who elected you, than the inside-the-Beltway venomous habitants that are populating your administration in ever increasing numbers.

And, by the way, why is Obama political operative John Koskinen still head of the IRS?

The removal of Bannon from his seat on the National Security Council (NSC) is illustrative, a restoration of the status quo ante and an example that the Trump Administration can benefit from on-the-job training. That is, they have learned the art of inside-the-Beltway media spin, also known to ordinary Americans as disinformation.

Don't get me wrong, I think the NSC should be non-political, but let's not kid ourselves. Bannon's removal was a reaction to the Susan Rice scandal, that is, "politicization" of the NSC (and virtually every other element of the Obama Administration), not mission accomplished.

The Trump Administration's spin claims that Bannon's appointment to the NSC was temporary, to "de-operationalize" or "de-politicize" Rice's NSC (are Rice's people still there?) and, bizarrely, to monitor Trump's first national security adviser, General Michael Flynn.

Now that, according to Bannon himself, "General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function," he can assume other duties. It is not a demotion, but "just a natural evolution" of the NSC, so says Vice President Mike Pence.

Hogwash.

And, by the way, why is Obama political operative John Koskinen still head of the IRS?

It seems that the bold campaign slogans of "Drain the Swamp," Build the Wall," "Repeal and Replace ObamaCare" and all the others, may be just that, slogans, undergoing the process of inside-the-Beltway political dilution.

It was a strange sight indeed to witness President Trump championing NeverTrump House Speaker Paul Ryan's healthcare plan and then attacking the conservative House Freedom Caucus for the bill's failure, legislation that the vast majority of those who elected Mr. Trump rejected.

Less than two weeks after the inauguration, Trump's "chief strategist" Bannon reportedly launched his own policy team known as the "Strategic Initiatives Group." Even the Washington Post, in a fit of nervous hand-wringing,  wondered "if anyone inside or outside the White House" could "stop Stephen Bannon?"

Well, wonder no more. The White House is now saying that Bannon's Strategic Initiatives Group never existed.

Apparently, Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president, was not informed that he was a member of a group that didn't exist when in February 2016 he claimed: ""We have a Strategic Initiatives Group to do things with the private industry and bring in outside experts on key issues such as government IT."

It appears that Bannon's Strategic Initiatives Group has undergone its own "natural evolution" to become Jared Kushner's Office of American Innovation (OAI), which is responsible for government modernization.

One could be forgiven for concluding that all of the above does add up to a demotion for Bannon, a likely initial step out the door and, love him or hate him, restraining a voice representing the desired directions of the electorate.

But that may be the intent.

It is worth noting that the OAI assignment augments Kushner's growing portfolio, which now includes producing peace in the Middle East, point man for China, middleman with the Mexicans and, perhaps, even defeater of ISIS, if his recent trip to Iraq with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is any indicator.

It is quite a to-do list for someone whose sole experience is in New York City-area commercial real estate and who has contributed more than $100,000 to Democratic campaigns, pro-amnesty Gang of Eight politicians and supporters of Obama's illegal immigration executive action, positions not exactly compatible with what we understood as the Trump agenda.

Maybe like many businessmen he was just renting some politicians.

No one will dispute that President Trump is entitled to the advisors and appointees of his choice, except when the consequences run contrary to the wishes of the voters.

And, by the way, why is Obama political operative John Koskinen still head of the IRS?

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Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of "Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution ". He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.

 


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