Bannon Is Failing the Leadership Test

by Cinzia Croce

Ever since leaving the White House, Steve Bannon has done a masterful job crafting a public persona as the insurgent general leading the fight to rescue Trump’s agenda from the corrupt GOP establishment.  Complete with the crumpled Indiana Jones jacket and unshaven face, the self-described president’s wingman wasted no time declaring war on Mitch McConnell and calling for a populist takeover of the Republican Party. Bannon’s fiery rhetoric and pledge to hold accountable Republicans who betrayed their voters are music to the ears and hearts of many party activists who long ago realized that the likes of Ryan and McConnell pose the greater obstacle to their aspirations than the Democrats. If anyone still has any doubts about McConnell’s commitment to undermine the president, his handling of tax reform should remove them. The Senate GOP bill postpones the corporate tax cut – the very jet fuel Trump needs to get the economy roaring – until 2019. It is almost as if McConnell is hoping the GOP will lose control of Congress and clear the way for the Democrats to remove the president from office.

When it comes to taking on the GOP establishment, Bannon deserves encouragement and applause from anyone who wants the Trump administration to succeed. However, holding political enemies accountable is not enough to be an effective leader. It is very easy to rail against those we despise – in fact, it is quite enjoyable. The true test of leadership is holding political friends accountable when their actions are just as harmful as enemy attacks and on this score Bannon is failing — bigly! Continue reading

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Donald Trump Is Right About Jeff Sessions

by Cinzia Croce

Supporters of Attorney General Jeff Sessions are in quite the predicament. They can’t dispute that President Donald Trump has solid grounds for feeling frustrated and disappointed. They can’t criticize the president for saying that if he had known there was a chance Sessions was going to recuse himself, he would have chosen else someone as Attorney General. They can’t deny that the key reason Bob Mueller is roaming around DC — armed with unlimited subpoena power and financial resources — looking for some crime, any crime — is a direct result of Sessions’ fateful decisions to recuse himself and appoint Rod Rosenstein as his number two. Since they can’t counter the validity of the president’s grievances, all that is left is to portray Sessions as a victim and Trump as a disloyal friend.

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Eager to defend their idol, some Sessions fans have even gone so far as to suggest that Trump would never have reached the White House if it weren’t for the Attorney General — and that therefore Trump owes Sessions a special degree of loyalty. This assertion is not based in reality.  By the time Sessions announced his endorsement, Trump he had already won three out of the four early contests. In Iowa he came in second, which is a remarkable achievement for a candidate with no ground game and who refused to spend a year traveling to all 99 counties. In South Carolina, Trump won so decisively that he racked up all 50 delegates. Continue reading

It’s Not About You, Jeff Sessions

by Cinzia Croce

As soon as Attorney General Jeff Sessions concluded his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, supporters of President Donald Trump took to social media celebrating what they deemed an “evisceration” of the Democrats on the panel. They did the same after the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, which they, and Trump himself, viewed as total vindication of the president. If the hearings were about seeking the truth about any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, then indeed both days would be victories for the president. But after months of hearings and many hours of testimony, it should be clear to all that the hearings are not about pursuing the truth. The hearings — and special counsel Robert  Mueller — are about miring the Trump administration in endless investigations in the hope that some grounds for impeachment materialize or, at the very least, prevent Trump from implementing his agenda. Let me make this very clear to Trump supporters: as long as the hearings and the special counsel keep going, every day will be a bad day for President Trump and a great day for his political opponents in both parties.

For many Trump supporters, watching Jeff Sessions forcefully defend his honor increased their admiration for the man. For me, it had the opposite effect. By the time he finished his testimony, my admiration had turned into an intense dislike. I did not see a selfless public servant defending his good name. Instead, what I saw was a self-centered individual with a grandiose opinion of himself more interested in protecting his reputation  than serving the administration he joined. Sessions requested an open session before the committee. He wanted to make sure that the entire world would be able to see him deny that he ever colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. Did anyone expect him to say otherwise? What exactly did Sessions’ appearance before the Senate achieve other than giving him a high-profile platform to declare that he was offended? So exemplary is Sessions that he decided to recuse himself from the Russia investigation rather than risk his prestige. So exemplary that he testified that he had full confidence in Mueller at a time when the special counsel’s team is being filled with Democratic donors and Clinton loyalists. No: it was all about protecting Sessions’ standing among his colleagues — and if that meant overshadowing the president’s trip to Wisconsin to promote his workforce reforms, well… Continue reading

Why Trump Will Tap Christie for VP

by Alex Knepper

Pundits sometimes accuse Donald Trump of having no guiding principles. Of course he does: Ted Cruz got it right months ago when he said that “everything in Donald’s world revolves around Donald.” That’s why he’s going to pick Chris Christie as his VP.

Christie put his reputation on the line for Trump earlier than anyone else of his stature — and endured an avalanche of ridicule and humiliation for it, without blinking. It took him only two weeks after the end of his campaign in New Hampshire to provide a full-throated endorsement of Trump: “He is rewriting the logic of American politics” and is a “strong and resolute leader,” Christie said of his “good friend.”

Continue reading