From inner sanctum to inner sanctum, this is the conversation that has been buzzing around the District of Columbia:
So, the Deplorables won an election and sent their man to Washington. Well, now, he’s on our turf and plays by our rules.
So goes the collective thinking of “Washington,” that shining co-op on a hill, where average men and women of above-average ambition and self-esteem have flim-flammed their way through the ballot box, climbed the think tank ladder, or honed the corporate sound-byte to come together in a promised land of uniparty perks and and special kind of firepower, suit-and-tied workers dedicated to preserving that same liberal world order foisted on the American people so very long ago. It was all working like clockwork — Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama — Bush/Clinton … until Trump.
Sir, Washington Post on the line. OMG, sit down. Ready-steady? OK. Bannon has hired Julia Hahn to work in the White House policy shop!
I know, I know.
He can’t do that! Doesn’t he realize the election is OVER? They’re here. In Washington. It’s OUR backyard. We set the rules. Give me that phone!
This was a conversation also echoing around Washington of late, as the Washington Post called around to report an entire A section story about Julia Hahn, 25, a two-year veteran of Breitbart News (one of my personal favorite reporters), who has been hired as a special assistant to the president.
Not a cabinet secretary. Not an assistant to the president. Not a deputy assistant to the president, either. Hahn will be a special assistant to the president, and congratulations to her and us all. According to this 2012 spread sheet created by the LA Times, there are some 68 special assistants to the president, operating not at the first, not at the second, but at the third level of staffing. Will the Post be profiling each of them?
No, only the one hired by White House senior strategist Steve Bannon, formerly Hahn’s editor at Breitbart (and on occasion mine).
Ready, boss? Here’s the Post.
… “She’ll be Bannon’s Bannon and make Bannon look moderate,” William Kristol told Jeff Bezos’s sheet. “Her tendency is to fight and fight, often to the extreme.”
Boss, that was great. You nailed it!
The Post doesn’t mention it (naturally), but Kristol remains an inveterate #NeverTrump commentator; he is also a heavy contributor to my own Anti-Trump Conservative Lexicon. Not so long ago he was declaring that Trump hiring Bannon “would re-enforce Trump’s worst instincts,” tweeting, “ever lower into the gutter” — which still sounds pretty extreme to me.
But even the seasoned quote-meister didn’t give the Post what it was specifically looking for, as set forth here:
Although Hahn will serve in a midlevel role as a special assistant to the president, her hiring alarmed and angered several Ryan allies, who expressed concern Monday about what they see as a brazen move by Bannon that threatened the fragile comity between Trump and Congress — and brightly underscored the Trump team’s insouciance about enlisting Ryan’s fiercest critic.
Don’t they realize who controls this town????
How dare Steve Bannon hire someone not vetted by Speaker Ryan’s office???
I can just see Postie Robert Costa pulling the telephone away from his ear, still hearing, tinny and clear:
This will destroy the fragile comity between that monster in the White House and reasonable Speaker Ryan — I mean, Congress. Got that?
Let me think. I’ve got it: And it brightly underscores the Trump team’s insouciance (woo!) about hiring and promoting that horrible old — she’s 25? — whatever. You know how to say the rest. Did you get the part about insouciance? K.
The dudgeon remains high:
Privately, a number of House Republicans told The Washington Post that Hahn’s involvement signaled Bannon’s plans to possibly put her to use against them, writing searing commentaries about elected Republican leaders to ram through Trump’s legislative priorities and agitate the party’s base if necessary.
Not …. searing commentaries against elected Republican leaders!!!
Not … agitate the party’s base!!!
Why, that’s democracy! This is Washington! They can’t do that!
This Is Not The Onion continues:
“This is obviously a provocative act and clearly an intentional act,” said Peter Wehner, a longtime Ryan friend and former official in three Republican administrations. “Bannon is willing to napalm the bridges with congressional Republicans.”
So good, Pete!!! But I think we’ll cut the part about “Agent Orange-ing House Leadership now suffering PTSD ….”
Wehner said that too many Republicans on Capitol Hill are “engaging in a fiction, a game, where Bannon and Trump aren’t taken seriously even though Bannon and Trump are operating in a serious way and bringing on people who are going to work for their cause, not for conservatives.”
Nice reframing: it’s their selfish “cause,” not noble #GOPSmartSet “conservatism.” Something to work with later, gotcha.
Stuart Stevens, who served as chief strategist for the Romney-Ryan 2012 presidential campaign, said that “Bannon has been at war with the Republican Party, and that hasn’t changed” with Hahn’s hire….
And so it goes.
In fact, everything changed after 63 million Americans voted for Donald Trump, defeating not only Hillary Clinton but Washington Republicans. They are the real bitter-enders around town, even more than the Democrats, and they all of them fully expect to outsmart and outlast the Trump movement. And they will, if they get their way, forcing, co-opting, pressuring President Trump to play according to their rules — rules that his whole election repudiated.
Hahn’s hire, a small thing in the giant bureaucracy, is a violation of these rules. The lesson here, obviously, is that the Trump White House should hire as many Hahns as possible.
Not that the grumbling and tiger traps will stop. They won’t. They mustn’t. If they do, look out. It would mean that Trump was doing everything wrong and playing by Washington’s rules.
The Post underscores this same lesson:
Hahn’s hiring is the latest pull in an ongoing and informal tug-of-war over the direction of Trump’s presidency and the political tint of the people working from the small offices in and around the Oval Office.
“Political tint.” Of course, we’ve come to that. Donald J. Trump is elected to be America’s first America First president — the only man ever to overcome the liberal world order’s denigration of America First immigration, trade and war policies — and advisers who may actually believe in such issues are excoriated for having the wrong “political tint.”
Take a tip, Washington: We had an counter-revolutionary election. If — and it’s a big “if” –President Trump can remember that all of his power comes from the 63 million people who sent him here, and not from anyone who was here before him, he might be able to fulfill that counter-revolution, maybe.
Meanwhile, duck when you see “searing commentaries.”