Anybody remember John Kelly? You know, the last arrogant schmuck who thought that he had the secret sauce for turning The Pampers President into an actual human being? Kelly was the one who was finally going to bring “discipline” to the White House and the feral civet cat in a $4,000 suit. That worked out
But lo and behold, someone has finally brought some badly needed discipline to the west wing, and to the part that badly needed it the most, the comms shop. And it’s being provided by probably the best selection Trump has made so far in staffing the people around him. A guy who has long experience in maintaining a coherent message regarding people who have the nasty habit of popping off spontaneously about their rather unsavory actions and words. And the way he does that is by shutting the fuck up, and having no message at all.
I am speaking of course about former FOX News exec Bill Shine. You know, the guy who guided FOX through the trials of Bill O’Reilly, the guy with more sex scandals than Silvio Berlusconi? And followed that up by steering the FOX sloop through the shoals of Roger Ailes, who apparently wanted to give Bill-o the Clown a run for his money? He’s the one in charge of White House communications these days.
And boy! is there discipline these days. Remember the good old days, when the only people in the White House with less message discipline that Glorious Bleater were the press officers? We are in the second wek back from the holiday break, there is a partial government shutdown, a trade war with China, and the media is openly floating the possibility that the President of the United States is a real life “Manchurian candidate,” and the only place that you’ll see Sarah Hackabee Slanders is on the back of a milk carton.There has yet to be a daily White House press briefing, and if you’re gonna hold your breath for the next one, I hope you look good in blue.
And that’s not all. Even when there were no daily press briefings, there was interaction, But under Shines leadership, there is no more thrilling video of Raj Shah, or Sarah Slanders, trudging down the White House driveway to face the music, knowing that at any moment, they could run back up the driveway and hide under their office desk, while the reporters had to go through security at the door. And no more disembodied voices wafting out from behind the bushes, like the voice of the Wizard of Oz filtering out from behind the curtain.
Bill Shine obviously got the memo. And he most likely got it the old fashioned way. He turned on the TV and watched a press briefing. And in doing so, he realized how inanely stupid his minions looked, standing there behind the podium and regurgitating the talking points of the Cheeto Prophet, like automatrons in Disney’s Hall of Press Secretaries, realizing that the Disney dummies were more lifelike and convincing than his own.
Bill Shine has decided that the only sane way to go is to communicate with the press through written “official” statements. And even those are sadly lacking in comprehension. For instance, in responding to the recent NYT article about the FBI naming Trump as the subject of a counter intelligence investigation for his ties to Russia, the first line of the communique called the article “wildly inaccurate.” Besides the fact that it didn’t call into question a single concrete assertion from the article as being inaccurate, it also glossed over the fact that the White House would have almost no concrete information on the contents of the investigation to refute.
Bt even the discipline that Shine has instituted has its limits, and Shine knows it. For instance, you’ll notice that there have been no reports of Shine trying to control Trump’s Twitter feed, or worse yet, lock his phone in an inaccessible place, like the vegetable bin of the White House fridge. After his previous experience with randy twits like O’Reilly and Ailes, Shine came to understand that an idiot will be an idiot, after all, a dog’s gotta howl. But Shine has mitigated the damage in the simplest possible way. He has let Trump spew out whatever nonsense he likes, and then leave it to His Lowness to answer the shouted questions of the reporters, while his embattled gnomes remain safely in the White House bunker, nibbling on their end-of-days survival rations.
So yes, it turns out that there actually was a way to impose discipline on the west wing of the White House, and Bill Shine is the man to do it. And the secret sauce turns out to be to remove the opportunity for lack of discipline to rear its ugly head. Mainly, keep the kiddies out of the living room when the boss is over for a visit.
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