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Trump Team Chaos

In better days: Donald Trump and Kellyanne Conway on Election Night 2016 (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Kellyanne Conway announced Sunday night that she’s leaving the White House to try to fix her broken family:

Conway informed Trump of her decision Sunday night in the Oval Office.

Her husband, George T. Conway III, a conservative lawyer and outspoken critic of the president, is also stepping back from his role on the Lincoln Project, an outside group of Republicans devoted to defeating Trump in November. He will also take a hiatus from Twitter, the venue he has often used to attack the president.

In a statement, Conway called her time in the Trump administration “heady” and “humbling,” and said she and George were making the decision based on what they think is best for their four children.

“We disagree about plenty,” she wrote of her and her husband, “but we are united on what matters most: the kids. Our four children are teens and ‘tweens starting a new academic year in the middle school and high school that will be conducted remotely from home for at least a few months. As millions of parents nationwide know, kids ‘doing school from home’ requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times.”

Conway continued: “This is completely my choice and my voice. In time, I will announce future plans. For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.”

Good call. Her 15 year old daughter had been making a constant scene on social media, and told the public she wanted to be emancipated from her mother and father. The kid is a hot mess, and needs her parents to be parents. I’m glad the Conways made this call. Family is far, far more important than politics. This is one case in which a famous person quits to spend more time with her family, and really means it.

But coming on the eve of the Republican convention, this is just more chaos for Trump. Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review wrote a strong, solid analysis of why Trump is losing the race at this point. Excerpts:

The fault is not in his stars but in his tweets, erratic behavior, scattershot belligerence, and denials of reality, which had already made him radioactive before what he sometimes calls the “Wuhan flu” ever emerged.

Trump is thin-skinned, self-obsessed, small-minded, intellectually lazy, and ill-disciplined. These never seemed to be great qualities in a chief executive, but they have caught up with Trump over the last six months in particular. They have played into his poor handling of the coronavirus crisis and the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. When times became more serious, he remained as unserious as ever.

More:

Particularly in the circumstances of a novel pandemic, the president needs a process that brings him relevant information, structures his deliberation, allows him to adapt to new developments and correct mistakes, and guides the rest of the government in executing his decisions. And he must act in concert with Congress, governors, public-health experts, business leaders, and others, all of whom have their own roles to play. Nobody could perform this job perfectly.

What we have under Trump is very nearly the mirror image of this ideal. He relies on gut instinct and gets his information from what he happens to see on television or hears from friends. He is extremely disinclined to acknowledge mistakes, process bad news, or think beyond the news cycle. The structure his staff has built around him is designed more to manage his ego and shield him from bad news than to yield wise decisions. His understanding of the relationship between the president and other political actors is rudimentary, causing him to alternate between passivity and assertions of total control.

This is key:

Some well-wishers urge Trump to talk about a second-term agenda, but he cannot do it credibly when he has done so little to advance a first-term one. Immigration and health-care plans are always just about to be unveiled, but never are. “Infrastructure week” has been deferred so often as to become a running gag. What he is really offering is four more years of enraging liberals. That promise, at least, is something he can deliver on.

Read it all.One of the most effective things Joe Biden said in his convention speech last week was that he was going to do what Trump promised to do (e.g., build infrastructure), but failed to accomplish. It was a fair shot at Trump, because it’s true.

There is not even a hint of a second-term agenda. Here’s a clue: this press release from the GOP on convention eve:

There’s not going to be a Republican platform this year. This is just saying, “Whatever Trump does, we support.” They wouldn’t have needed to all be in the same room to hammer this out. They know perfectly well that there’s no point in doing so. This astonishing document appears to confirm that the Republican Party exists now as a personality cult. Did you see that Trump is now going to speak on each of the four nights of the Republican convention? Why not? If he’s the only thing the party stands for, it stands to reason.

In fact, many of us on the Right would like to see strong nationalist-conservative government. But we are going to have to wait for some future Republican politician to give it to us.

UPDATE: Today Team Trump released its own platform. A lot of good stuff in it — but notice no mention of abortion, and no mention at all of religious liberty.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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