For a president who often begins and ends his days imbibing cable news, the burden has fallen heavily on a press team that recognizes how well they sell Trump’s early tenure in the media will likely color the president’s appetite for an internal shake-up.
That was the backdrop for a tense planning session for the 100-day mark last week.
More than 30 Trump staffers piled into a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjoining the White House, according to a half-dozen attendees who described the Tuesday meeting.
Mike Dubke, Trump’s communications director, and his deputy, Jessica Ditto, kicked off the discussion of how to package Trump’s tumultuous first 100 days by pitching the need for a “rebranding” to get Trump back on track.
“I think the president’s head would explode if he heard that,” one of the White House officials present said.
Staffers, including counselor Kellyanne Conway, were broken into three groups, complete with whiteboards, markers and giant butcher-block-type paper to brainstorm lists of early successes. One group worked in the hallway.
“It made me feel like I was back in 5th grade,” complained another White House aide who was there. “That’s the best way I could describe it.”
Dubke, who did not work on the campaign, told the assembled aides that international affairs would present a messaging challenge because the president lacks a coherent foreign policy. Three days later, Trump would order missile strikes in Syria in a reversal of years of previous opposition to such intervention.
“There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared.
Some in the room were stunned by the remark.
“It rubbed people the wrong way because on the campaign we were pretty clear about what he wanted to do,” said a third White House official in the room, “He was elected on a vision of America First. America First is the Trump doctrine.”
One of the administration officials lamented, “We’ve got a comms team supposedly articulating the president’s message [that] does not appear to understand the president’s message.”
If the Trumpies think the problem is the White House communications team and not Trump himself and the people he's chosen to surround himself with, well no amount of whiteboarding, rebranding or message discipline is going to help.
You voted for America's executive branch to be run like a business, America, and you got it. You also elected a CEO who has declared bankruptcy numerous times to boot. Surprise!
Folks, nothing's going to rescue Trump from being the worst president in modern US history, and there may not be too much of an America left after we get rid of him.