Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Trump's casting call
The Washington Post reports that Trump is choosing his cabinet members based on how they "fit the role." And this should not surprise us. Since he is an imbecile and completely ignorant of how government works or what these people will have to do,it's the only criteria he has. He literally has no other way of judging people.
The parade of potential job-seekers passing a bank of media cameras to board the elevators at Trump Tower has the feel of a casting call. It is no coincidence that a disproportionate share of the names most mentioned for jobs at the upper echelon of the Trump administration are familiar faces to obsessive viewers of cable news — of whom the president-elect is one.
“He likes people who present themselves very well and he’s very impressed when somebody has a background of being good on television because he thinks it’s a very important medium for public policy,” said Chris Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a longtime friend of Trump. “Don’t forget, he’s a showbiz guy. He was at the pinnacle of showbiz and he thinks about showbiz. He sees this as a business that relates to the public.”[...]
As Trump formally announced his vice presidential pick in July, he said that Mike Pence’s economic record as Indiana governor was “the primary reason I wanted Mike, other than he looks very good, other than he’s got an incredible family, incredible wife and family.”
And in picking retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his nominee for defense, Trump lauded him as “the closest thing to General George Patton that we have.”
Mattis has a passing physical resemblance to the legendary World War II commander, as well as to the late actor George C. Scott, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Patton in the 1970 biopic. Trump also seems particularly enamored with a nickname that Mattis is said to privately dislike.
“You know he’s known as ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, right? ‘Mad Dog’ for a reason,” Trump said in a recent interview with the New York Times.
The president-elect, however, does not mention Mattis’ other sobriquet, which is “Warrior Monk.” Or his call sign: “Chaos.”
On the other hand, in Trump’s book, not having the right kind of appearance is tantamount to a disqualifier. During the presidential campaign, he stirred a controversy when he pronounced that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lacked “a presidential look, and you need a presidential look.”
Battling through the GOP primary, Trump frequently made barbed comments about his opponents’ appearances.
Those kind of skin-deep standards helped make Trump a success as a reality-television star and international brand, but his critics say they are worrisome in the Oval Office.
His personnel choices show signs of being “cast for the TV show of his administration,” said Bob Killian, founder of a branding agency based in Chicago. “They are all perfectly coiffed people who look like they belong on a set.”
But Trump spokesman Miller insisted that some qualifications do not lend themselves to lines on a résumé: “People who are being selected for these key positions need to be able to hold their own, need to be doers and not wallflowers, and need to convey a clear sense of purpose and commitment.”
All of which has led him to some unconventional picks. If confirmed by the Senate, ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson will become the first secretary of state in modern history to come to the job with no experience in government. Then again, Trump himself has none.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has little obvious foreign policy experience to qualify her for United Nations ambassador, but she is a rising political star who brings diversity to Trump’s largely white and male picks for top jobs. Given how she and the president-elect had clashed during the 2016 campaign, Haley’s selection also suggests that Trump is willing to bring adversaries into the fold when they suit his needs.
Trump’s closest aides have come to accept that he is likely to rule out candidates if they are not attractive or not do not match his image of the type of person who should hold a certain job.
“That’s the language he speaks. He’s very aesthetic,” said one person familiar with the transition team’s internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You can come with somebody who is very much qualified for the job, but if they don’t look the part, they’re not going anywhere.”
John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, at the elevator at Trump Tower on Dec. 2 (Justin Lane/Bloomberg News)
Several of Trump’s associates said they thought that John R. Bolton’s brush-like mustache was one of the factors that handicapped the bombastic former United Nations ambassador in the sweepstakes for secretary of state.
“Donald was not going to like that mustache,” said one associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly. “I can’t think of anyone that’s really close to Donald that has a beard that he likes.”
Trump was drawn to Tillerson and 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney for secretary of state because of their presence and the way they command a room when they walk in.
The president-elect considered Romney despite the former Massachusetts governor’s scathing criticism of him during the presidential campaign. Several Trump associates say he was drawn to Romney, and later to Tillerson, by their “central casting” quality, a phrase the president-elect uses frequently in his private deliberations.
People close to Trump said he has been eager to tap a telegenic woman as press secretary or in some other public-facing role in his White House — both because he thinks it would attract viewers and would help inoculate him from the charges of sexism that trailed his presidential campaign.
Central Casting would have chosen this handsome superstar to play the role of president, for sure:
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digby 12/21/2016 05:00:00 PM