Pimps campaign's latest theme: Presumably, Robert Costa wants to maintain extremely good access to Candidate Donald J. Trump. And maybe to Donald Trump Junior!
In this morning's Washington Post, Costa pimps script from the Trump campaign in a remarkable way. Most remarkably, he uses the Melaniagate mess as a way to showcase Candidate Trump's manifest moral greatness.
Yesterday, the Trump campaign acknowledged an awkward fact. According to the Trump campaign, Melania Trump was the original source of the purloined passages from Michelle Obama's speech—the purloined passages which turned up in her own convention speech.
In today's editions, the Washington Post and the New York Times both downplay this awkward fact. But only Costa was able to turn this embarrassment into a sign of Trump's greatness.
In the hard-copy Post, the fact that Melania was the original source was buried deep in a "Day 3" grab-bag report by Karen Tumulty. By way of contrast, Costa provided this stand-alone report, in which he explains what we can learn from the awkward episode.
What can we learn from Melaniagate? We can learn about Trump's great sense of loyalty! We can also learn about the way he cultivates the proles, a theme that comes straight from Donald Trump Junior's ballyhooed speech Tuesday night.
On all three cable news channels, corporate pundits gushed and fawned on Tuesday night about Junior's wonderful speech. You couldn't distinguish the gushing of Brian and Rachel and Gene from the gushing which was heard on Fox and on CNN.
Junior's speech was actually full of silly statements and unfounded claims. But so what? At all three cable news channels, the bosses apparently told the "talent" to ignore such problems.
That said, Junior's speech included one theme designed to showcase his father's greatness. According to Donald Trump Junior, Candidate Trump is a regular guy who's in love with the regular people:
TRUMP JUNIOR (7/19/16): You want to know what kind of president [Trump] will be? Let me tell you how he ran his businesses, and I know because I was there with him by his side on job sites, in conference rooms from the time I could walk.On and on the youngster went. God must love the little people, he has let Candidate Trump help so many out:
He didn't hide out behind some desk in an executive suite, he spent his career with regular Americans. He hung out with the guys on construction sites pouring sheetrock and hanging—pouring concrete and hanging sheetrock. He listened to them and he valued their opinions as much and often more than the guys from Harvard and Wharton locked away in offices away from the real work.
He's recognized the talent and the drive that all Americans have. He's promoted people based on their character, their street smarts and their work ethic, not simply paper or credentials. To this day, many of the top executives in our company are individuals that started out in positions that were blue collar, but he saw something in them and he pushed them to succeed.
His true gift as a leader is that he sees the potential in people that they don't even see in themselves. The potential that other executives would overlook because their resumes don't include the names of fancy colleges and degrees.
TRUMP JUNIOR (continuing directly): I know he values those workers and those qualities in people because those are the individuals he had my siblings and me work under when we started out. That he would trust his own children's formative years to these men and women says all you need to know about Donald Trump.Candidate Trump loves the little people! You can tell because he has so many in his employ.
We didn't learn from MBAs. We learned from people who had doctorates in common sense. Guys like Vinnie Stellio, who taught us how to drive heavy equipment, operate tractors and chainsaws, who worked his way through the ranks to become a trusted adviser of my father. It's why we're the only children of billionaires as comfortable in a D10 Caterpillar as we are in our own cars.
My father knew that those were the guys and gals that would teach us the dignity of hard work from a very young age. He knows that at that heart of the American dream is the idea that whoever we are, wherever we're from, we can get ahead, where everyone can prosper together.
This was a major theme of Trump Junior's speech. By total coincidence, this is precisely what Costa seems to see as the takeaway lesson from the Melaniagate mess!
On-line, Costa's report appears beneath this headline: "Trump’s embrace of embattled speechwriter offers glimpse into loyal circle he has cultivated."
According to Costa, Trump's refusal to fire Meredith McIver shows the greatness of the trust and loyalty he has created down through the years. Costa ignores another obvious possibility:
Trump's refusal to fire McIver is part of a deal according to which she took the fall for Melania Trump.
Whatever! From there, Costa proceeds to the theme he seems to have borrowed from Trump Junior. Warning! Substantial bullroar ahead!
According to Costa, McIver is one of the many proles Candidate Trump has helped. So is spokeswoman Hope Hicks, or so a Post reader might think:
COSTA (7/21/16): This is not an all-Ivy League club or a coterie with Wall Street polish. What a majority share, besides their reverence for “Mr. Trump,” are backgrounds that often have links to blue-collar New York or to experiences outside elite circles—and an innate aversion to taking any attention away from a boss who covets it.As you can see, Costa took this "blue collar," "non-Ivy League" theme straight from Trump Junior's speech. McIver herself is one example. So, you might think, is Hope Hicks.
According to her biography on a speakers’ website, McIver, 65, is a native of San Jose, Calif., and graduated from the University of Utah. She trained at the School of American Ballet in New York before finding her way into Trump’s orbit, working with him on several books and becoming a ghostwriter for both Trump and his wife whenever they were readying public remarks.
Others around Trump have similar stories to McIver’s.
Michael Cohen, the company’s executive vice president and an attorney, grew up on Long Island and shares Trump’s outer-borough cadence. He has frequently described Trump as a father-like mentor. Jason Greenblatt, a top executive and a Jew, hails from Forest Hills, N.Y., and has been a fierce defender of Trump against charges of anti-Semitism, taking the criticism personally.
Keith Schiller, a terse and tall former detective who has for years been Trump’s ubiquitous bodyguard, and Rhona Graff, his executive assistant and gatekeeper, have been with him since the 1980s. Hope Hicks, now the campaign’s spokeswoman, joined the campaign after working for the company and growing friendly with the family.
This theory doesn't quite work. Hicks grew up in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, then went to SMU. According to the leading authority, "her father, Paul B. Hicks III, was an executive vice-president of communications for the NFL."
Meanwhile, how lumpen was McIver? We aren't sure, but here's the way she's profiled today in the New York Times:
HOROWITZ (7/21/16): In her mid-30s and slowed by injuries, Meredith McIver, a classically trained ballerina who had danced under the limelight with Balanchine and the ensembles of Broadway musicals, decided to pursue her passion for writing.Does that sound super-blue collar to you? Later, Horowitz tells us more:
She tried her hand at short stories and poems in the style of Dylan Thomas before finding work writing advertising copy. “She was always very, very interested in writing as an art form,” said an ex-boyfriend, Stephen Palitz.
HOROWITZ: The daughter of ballroom dancers, Ms. McIver, who did not respond to messages seeking comment, grew up in Northern California, before coming to New York at age 14 on a Ford Foundation scholarship for dance.McIver is so down-market that she came to New York at age 14 through the Ford Foundation. She studied at the official school of the New York City ballet. She danced with Balanchine and performed on Broadway; wrote lyrics with a classical guitarist; then went to work at a New York City ad agency where her equally downtrodden sister happened to be a partner.
She studied at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet, from 1965 through 1970. She then went to dance out west, Mr. Palitz said, and enrolled at the University of Utah. An English major, she graduated magna cum laude in 1976.
She returned to New York and in 1981 danced in the company of the revival of “Can Can” at the Minskoff Theater in New York. It closed after five performances...
She settled on the Upper West Side, and her fashionable dress, dancer’s figure and green eyes turned heads at the grocery. She traveled to the Netherlands and France. In “How to Get Rich,” which she co-wrote with Mr. Trump, she thanked Alain Bernardin, the owner of a famed Paris striptease saloon, the Crazy Horse.
But dancing eventually took its toll, and after writing lyrics with Mr. Palitz, a classical guitarist, she joined her sister Karen, the art director at the advertising firm Lotas Minard Patton McIver. Around the time Karen left the firm more than a decade later, her sister entered Mr. Trump’s orbit.
(For a taste of the times at that firm, you can just click here.)
Other names on Costa's list of proles come from college, law school and graduate school backgrounds. It seems to us that Costa was working rather hard today to pimp one of the Trump campaign's current treasured themes.
Most striking, though, is Costa's ability to make a giant lemon meringue pie out of this week's lemon. Once again, let's state the obvious:
McIver may be taking a dive, helping Melania Trump escape blame and scorn for this relatively trivial matter.
In our view, the Post and the Times both worked today to fudge the facts which have emerged from this mess. But only Costa found a way to take a very sour lemon and use it to help us see the greatness of Candidate Trump, as filtered through Trump Junior's eyes.
By the way:
Trump Junior's speech Tuesday night was a bit of a mess. There was a lot to critique and criticize, as may be the case with many speeches next week.
Truthfully, Trump Junior's speech was sad. But as it was on the Fox News Channel, so it was on MSNBC:
Brian, Rachel and Gene all gushed about how fabulous Junior had been. For whatever reason, ownership wanted it handled that way. As always, the proles complied.