The New York Times published a real shocker of a story yesterday, revealing that, three weeks into his new job, Donald Trump's fourth chief of staff, former North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows, is learning to his chagrin that being a good late-night phone pal to the Great Man was a lot easier than trying to manage his White House. The shocking part is that, in the fourth year of Trump's presidency, Meadows could be surprised that Trump's Universal Chaos Field is impervious to any attempts at "management."

The story, by Maggie Haberman, reveals that Meadows, like others roped into the thankless job, had some small semi-successes, like ousting Stephanie Grisham as press secretary (while also pissing off her allies still on the comms team), but mercy, he's finding out this White House is kind of a mess!

But administration officials say [Meadows] has been overwhelmed at times by a permanent culture at the White House that revolves around the president's moods, his desire to present a veneer of strength and his need for a sense of control. It is why, no matter who serves as chief of staff, the lack of formal processes and the constant infighting are unavoidable facts of life for those working for Mr. Trump.

Additionally, Haberman reveals Meadows's astonishment at learning where bears actually shit.


The story will probably end up being remembered, however, for its other big revelation, which is that Mark Meadows, for all his very tough hollering about the FBI's many Deep State crimes against Donald Trump, also cries like a common John Boehner. It's an artfully mean story, at least; Haberman notes that Meadows has "hunted aggressively for leaks," and then, following that paragraph about the West Wing's eternal madness storm, dives right into "LOL, look at Weepy McWeeperpants!"

According to anonymous insiders, Meadows,

who has a reputation for showing his emotions, cried while meeting with members of the White House staff on at least two occasions. One instance was in the presence of a young West Wing aide; another time was with the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

On both occasions, Mr. Meadows was discussing staffing changes, according to the people with knowledge of the events.

For our money, the best part of the story is that a "person close to Mr. Kushner said he denied that any such episode involving him ever took place." Makes you wonder how worried the White House actually is about Tearghazi. When did Mark Meadows weep, and when did the president know it?

Haberman notes that, unlike Trump's previous three chiefs of staff, Meadows actually had a "personal relationship" with the Great Man, and that Trump "is said to have faith in Mr. Meadows and is sometimes responsive to his suggestions," surely a phrase that has never ever been said about other alleged adults who tried to ride herd on the Orange Squirrel. Not that anyone's likely to accuse Meadows, the former head of the House Freedom Caucus, of being excessively grownup anyway. That would get in the way of his being a rightwing absolutist who wants to kill Obamacare and put the entire FBI in jail for sexting.

But wait! Will Trump's disdain for emotions, which he considers a "sign of weakness" (except when a Supreme Court nominee is yell-crying about how unfair everyone is to him) be a problem for Meadows?

Fortunately, White House spox Hogan Gidley had a ready answer to queries about whether Trump can support a crybaby:

The White House is fully focused on supporting the president's mission of defeating the coronavirus, saving American lives, and getting the country back to work — and Mark Meadows has already proven to be a tremendous asset in that effort.

Few people can say nothing at all like Hogan Gidley.

We have to give Haberman credit for her sly rhetorical choreography, too, as in a bit where she says Meadows, for all his very rightwing positions, played well with others in Congress, even with ideological opponents like Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin, who said Meadows

has a live intellect and emotional life [...] Again, I consider many of his ideological commitments just indigestible, but we try to find the humanity in our colleagues and he is someone with a mind and a heart, that's just undeniable.

Then, having made Meadows seem human-ish, Haberman reminds us that hu-mons don't do well in TrumpWorld:

But neither quality is necessarily an asset in the Trump White House, where the president likes to project strength at all moments.

Beyond the revelation that Meadows has lacrimal glands and isn't afraid to use them, we're also treated to yet another of those delicious examples of the woes faced by anyone who thinks they can wrangle Trump's chaosmonkeys. One of Meadows's goals is to bring some order to the White House comms team, so of course we learn that Meadows was blindsided by this week's announcement of the brand new Reopening America Task Force Of CEOs (Who Had No Idea They're On The Task Force).

Haberman reports the press office released the list of influencers without Meadows knowing it was on the way, and that the whole debacle — surprise! — "had happened at the direction of Mr. Kushner," and without anyone actually letting many people on the list know they were now on a task force. Inevitably, a bunch of the corporate movers and shakers said the announcement was the first they'd heard of it, and a few said they'd never agreed to joining the club. That's followed by this paragraph that will follow Meadows around for as long as he keeps the job:

Even Mr. Meadows's allies have described him as reeling from the reality that working for the president is different from being Mr. Trump's phone confidant.

Seems we've read this story a few score times before. But don't worry — we're certain Trump will soon be calling this fake news on Twitter, and then in a month or two we'll learn that he deeply resents Meadows for failing to make America love Trump enough.

[NYT]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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