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Transition to Trump: Insiders find themselves on the outside in Donald Trump’s world

With the conclusion of last week’s national election, America begins pondering the serious question of transitioning from Barack Obama to a soon-to-be President Donald Trump. Thankfully there are signs of healing and acceptance among some of the former supporters of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, many of whom questioned the legitimacy of the election in its immediate aftermath.

Leftist-inspired protests are continuing at various places across the country, but in general, sanity appears to Trump Interviewbe returning to the masses.

Though hardly a harbinger of peace, Saturday Night Live, for example, opened with a rather subdued segment featuring Kate McKinnon (playing Hillary Clinton) singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and remarking “I'm not giving up and neither should you.”

Then there was a poll which showed three in four Americans believe Trump’s victory was legitimate, including 58 percent of Clinton’s supporters. Seeing as pollsters are kind of in disgrace these days, I don’t think anyone should get too excited in discovering this conclusion.

But the larger message is this: after several days of noisy protests people are starting to calm down (at least a little bit) and get used to the idea that Donald Trump is going to be taking the oath of office on January 20 of next year. I don’t know if it’s because they really don’t have a choice in the matter or whether they figured out that Trump’s ascendance is not the end of their world, but peace looks to again be possible over the fruited plain.

Donald Trump himself made a major change to his transition team on Friday, demonstrating that he’s not the least bit hesitant to alter the status quo at a moment’s notice.

Fox News reported, “Vice President-elect Mike Pence is taking over White House transition efforts from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – one of a host of changes announced Friday by President-elect Donald Trump as he works quickly to form his administration-in-waiting.

“Pence will now serve as chairman of the transition team. Christie, the scandal-scarred governor who has supported Trump ever since dropping his own 2016 presidential bid, will remain on board – only in a lesser role, as one of several transition vice chairs.”

The buzz in the news media surrounding the Christie demotion involves his role in the infamous “Bridgegate” scandal in New Jersey, but the more likely purpose for Trump’s action goes much deeper than that.

I think the president-elect recognizes that Christie was moving to populate his administration with the same kind of establishment Republicans that Trump ran against in the first place and made a change at the top because he wants conservatives and outsiders to be at the controls of government.

You can’t drain the swamp if the reptiles are left behind hiding in the mud. Likewise, Washington won’t change without new blood in the administration.

It would be nearly impossible to completely shut the door to the former Bush and Romney people, but they can’t be the ones making the important decisions. If personnel is policy, there needs to be a new direction in the country and it starts with making sure the perspectives of the incomers is different than those who have gotten used to Washington being one giant patronage cushion for the elite.

On Sunday morning, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway all but confirmed it would be different, saying, “You can’t just appoint novices. You have to have people who know what they’re doing. This is an administration that is going to run very differently than typical Washington.”

And while no one can say for sure who will fill which roles, a list of potential hires for staff positions has emerged. Alex Pappas and Alex Pfeiffer of the Daily Caller report, “The list was provided by a member of the transition team on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press. Described as a ‘working’ document, it is being used to help the president-elect envision a White House staff structure, the source said. Some people are listed more than once.

“It includes names like Trump campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn.”

Of course it was announced Sunday afternoon that Priebus would be Trump’s chief of staff and Bannon will fill the role of chief strategist and senior counselor.

“Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again," Trump said in a statement.

Trump certainly must feel faithful and grateful to each man, but I can’t help but think Bannon – or someone else – would have been the better choice for his chief of staff if the president-elect wanted to send a signal that business as usual is over in Washington.

As Chairman of the RNC, Priebus is the current figurehead of the Republican establishment even if he did prove steady and helpful to Trump all throughout his candidacy (which includes the primaries).

Kellyanne Conway makes the list as well, apparently being considered for the position of Assistant to the President and Press Secretary. While I believe she would be terrific in that role (as she was Trump’s main press liaison during the last few months of the campaign), I can’t help but think her talents would be better utilized in a managerial or advisory capacity.

Another name that’s being floated for Press Secretary is radio host Laura Ingraham. Jonathan Swan of The Hill reports, “Trump appreciated Ingraham's loyalty through the campaign. A former white-collar defense attorney and Supreme Court law clerk, Ingraham helped Trump with debate preparation. She also campaigned on his behalf and offered occasional strategic advice.

“With the possible exceptions of Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Breitbart, no media figure or outlet did more to promote Trump's candidacy than Ingraham.”

I agree. Ingraham has reportedly expressed interest in the position and talks are taking place behind the scenes to see if she could fit in there. Needless to say, Ingraham would be a terrific advocate for Trump’s policies and also an effective counter-punch to the hostile press and the Republican establishment.

As far as Conway is concerned, I presume she can pretty much have her choice on whatever role she would like to play in the new administration. Conway is solid, unwavering, unquestioningly conservative and as she proved, reliable for Trump. Many have argued she’s the reason he won the election and it’s hard to disagree with that assertion. Conway helped Trump stay on message, which was his number one challenge from the beginning.

If Conway wants to be press secretary, that’s where she’ll end up.

Most of the rest of those listed for White House positions are not exactly household names. Of course former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is being mentioned for the position of Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor (along with Conway, oddly enough). I can’t help but think having Lewandowski so close to Trump in a senior position would bring the same sort of controversy to his governing staff that he did during the campaign.

Lewandowski is more than a controversial figure -- he’s notorious for irritating personalities with his abrasive managerial style.

Trump is Trump – he’ll likely do as he feels best, but it’s not a good way to start off his administration by setting people against each other. It’s going to be hard enough as it is to push his agenda through Congress with a hostile press critiquing him at every step – he’ll need a harmonious supporting cast to help him do it.

Should Trump include Democrats in his administration?

With the election of any new Republican president comes pressure to “diversify” and “unify” his administration by including members of the opposition party in his cabinet.

This is code for “we lost but we still want to control something.” In fairness, the Republican establishment makes the same claim when a Democrat wins.

Now, however, even some prominent Republicans are calling on Trump to leave the door open to Democrats.

Harper Neidig of The Hill reports, “During a radio interview with John Catsimatidis on Sunday, (Larry) Kudlow was asked about rumors that Wall Street executive Jamie Dimon, a Democrat, is on Trump’s shortlist for Treasury secretary.

“’I would love to see it,’ Kudlow said. ‘Not only because I have so much respect for Jamie Dimon — he’s a great banker — but also, John, I think Mr. Trump should have a number of Democrats in his Cabinet.’”

A number of Democrats? Like who?

Kudlow pointed out that the newly elected John F. Kennedy in 1960 asked a Republican to serve as Treasury Secretary at the beginning of his presidency.

I’m not sure how that fact translates to today because both the Republican and Democrat parties are very much different than they were in JFK’s era. At that time, the Republican Party was more liberal than it is now; the Democrats were more conservative. Not anymore.

I don’t believe there should be a party litmus test for Trump’s cabinet as much as there needs to be an ideological test. Everyone knows Trump is more pragmatic and populist than he is a principled limited-government conservative, which suggests he could be open to bringing Democrats into his inner circle.

The appearance of “moderation” would also seem to be attractive to someone like Trump. But the only problem is, there just aren’t many – if any – “moderate” Democrats anymore. With the impending retirement of Barack Obama, the leadership of the party falls to the next in line.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders look to drive the Democrat opposition to Trump and the Republican Congress. They’re not “moderate” in any sense of the word.

If it’s true that Trump’s team is apparently taking revenge against Republicans who didn’t support him, then why should he feel obligated to add Democrats to his cabinet? They didn’t back him either.

Kenneth P. Vogel and Ben Shreckinger of Politico report, “Since Trump’s shocking upset victory in Tuesday’s presidential election, several people who worked on his team have discussed ways to punish Republicans who were hostile to the New York billionaire’s anti-establishment campaign, including blocking them from administration or transition posts, or lucrative consulting work, according to a handful of people involved in the conversations.

“They say that Republicans who opposed — or were seen as insufficiently supportive of — Trump have had their entreaties rejected by people around the president-elect, some of whom have expressed wonderment that former bitter critics are now asking for jobs, lobbying leads and even Inauguration tickets.”

For what it’s worth, Trump’s people deny there’s any targeting going on. But there were many in the #NeverTrump ranks that said an awful lot of nasty things about the president-elect – and his supporters – during the campaign. In a town where choosing sides is often the necessity of the hour, picking the wrong side brings with it some consequences.

Needless to say, the same rationale should go for Democrats. In the Kudlow example above, I’d be very interested to see what Jamie Dimon had to say about Trump. It’s fairly well-known that Dimon didn’t support Trump for president. Why would he deserve a position heading up part of Trump’s administration?

If Trump and his team truly are taking names, I’m guessing Dimon will be on the outside.

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Our wonderful country, which could be great again!

The establishment does not merit a seat at the table. They have been dumping on their fellow citizens for 30-40 years, but never like in the past 8. Their opinions are not what America just voted for, on the contrary. They must straighten up to ever be taken seriously again. And "straighten up" means "America First." And soon.

Transition Team and Trump Cabinet

There's no real point in punishing those who did not support Trump during the campaign, but it IS important to "defang" them with appointments to offices where they're unlikely to do any harm to Trump's agenda. One example that comes to my mind is an appointment of John McCain to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain is solid in his advocacy for veterans, and this would get him out of the Senate, where he would otherwise continue to harm the conservative cause as he has done for the past couple of decades. Maybe Governor Ducey could appoint Kelli Ward to replace him. Just call me a "Wacko-Bird" (John McCain's term).