August 7, 2017

Machine-Gun Kelly – Trump’s Recoilless Defensive Weapon

by Hal Gershowitz

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Of Thee I Sing Heading AuthorsShe never recoil’s.

Or, to put it in the context of Merriam-Webster, Kellyanne Conway never backs away from something shocking, frightening or disgusting, nor does she ever react to anything with shock or fear.

Undaunted, no matter the incoming, Kellyanne Conway is probably the most talented, unflappable and, perhaps, the most valuable apologist any President has ever had in his corner. We don’t mean “I’m sorry” apologist.  We mean apologist in the classic sense, i.e. a defender or supporter of a cause or person being attacked by detractors.

Unlike George Kelly Barnes of FBI lore who actually never fired his machine gun at anything other than tin cans, Machine-Gun Kelly (Conway) is firing defensive verbal salvos at Trump’s media antagonists all the time, and she often mows them down with well-honed accuracy–well, maybe not accuracy, but she mows them down nonetheless.  Unrelenting in defending the President, more often than not, she wears down her inquisitor.  She is invariably going strong as her interviewer runs out of steam, and, as often as not, she either wins every dust-off or it ends in a draw with many viewers or listeners left scratching their heads wondering why everyone is picking on the President.

We never see Machine-Gun Kelly at a loss for words, not even when an experienced showman tries to corner her. Remember this encounter with NBC’s late-night talk show host Seth Meyers.  Meyers: “I bet in the next four years we are not going to see the president-elect’s tax returns.” Conway, firing a return round without blinking: “I bet that most Americans really care what their tax returns are going to look like after he’s been president for four years.”
And this from columnist Frank Bruni of the New York Times, “She’s no mere mouthpiece, no measly surrogate. She’s more like the David Blaine (the magician, illusionist and escape artist) of political spin, intent on working feats of magic that few others would attempt and surviving situations that would cripple any ordinary mortal. He catches a bullet in his mouth; she makes Donald Trump sound like a humble servant of the common man. He lasts 44 days in a plexiglass case over the Thames; she lasts 40 minutes with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.”
Love her or hate her, Kellyanne is an impressively accomplished professional.  She graduated magna cum laude from Trinity College in Washington, D.C.   She went on to study at Oxford University and later earned a law degree with honors from George Washington University Law School.  She also picked up a Phi Beta Kappa key along the way.
Kellyanne Conway’s career as a pollster has served her well.  Successful pollsters, like marketing research professionals,  invariably become agile generalists who become quite adept at quickly relating to a wide variety of issues, causes, strategies, and trends.  She honed her skills, built a successful business, and became the first woman to serve as general manager of an American presidential campaign.
Today,  she occupies the same second floor, west-wing office formerly occupied by Valarie Jarrett, Karl Rove, and two-and-a-half decades ago, Hillary Clinton, and is a senior advisor to the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.
She has been an incredibly valuable asset to the Trump White House. She has become the translator of the Newspeak tweeted and spoken from the oval office on an almost daily basis. When necessary (which is often) she twists and turns, and pivots, when confronted with Trump’s own words and, more often than not, the viewer or listener, is left with a more benign, digestible and acceptable rendition of what they thought they heard from the President. Yesterday, George Stephanopoulos confronted Machine-Gun Kelly on ABC’s “This Week.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: So I just talked about the economy right there. You’ve seen another good jobs report on Friday. Solid growth through this year. The stock market, as the president has pointed out, at record highs. Yet the poll this week showed 61 percent disapproval for the president.

So why are people so unhappy with the president when the economy is doing so well?

Ignoring Stephanopoulos’s carefully aimed shot, Machine-Gun Kelly fires away. CONWAY: “But the numbers that you talked about are the most important indicators. You also see consumer confidence numbers, manufacturer, home builder, small business formation confidence. You see record close of the Dow — over 22,000 points.

“These are the measurements that matter to everyday Americans. And even this president when he came in, George, he made a promise that for every new regulation in, he would have two that went out. We’re closer to 16 out for every new one in, and that regulatory framework has been so critically important to taxpayers, to property owners, to folks who are working hard and trying to get ahead.

“I would note too in some of the polling, which of course I scour daily on behalf of the president, his approval rating among Republicans and conservatives and Trump voters is down slightly. It needs to go up. They are telling him just enact your program. Don’t worry about a Congress that isn’t supporting legislation to get big ticket items done. And don’t worry about all the distractions and diversions and discouragement that others, who are trying to throw logs in your path, are throwing your way.

“Focus on the agenda. And he’s doing that. Look, nobody can deny these economic numbers. I mean, the idea that it’s not getting huge coverage — it’s been a great weekend for this president. You see 2.6 percent growth. It doubled the first quarter growth. And you see the — the job creation, 209,000, exceeded expectations, his one millionth job created.

“And then you also just yesterday saw a unanimous rebuke of North Korea. The greatest economic sanctions package ever leveled against them, it’ll cost about $1 billion. Even allies in the region like China, Japan, South Korea, all agreeing with the United States that North Korea and its nuclear capabilities must be stopped.”

At this point, most viewers have been more conditioned by Machine-Gun Kelly’s return fire,  and the gotcha question that started the exchange is mostly forgotten or relegated to nit picking

The ABC commentator fires again. STEPHANOPOULOS: “We still are seeing tweets from the president. He insists he’s going to keep up that tradition, including this one on Thursday where he said our relationship with Russia is at an all time and very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us health care.

“How is Congress responsible for relations with Russia being at an all-time low? And who is he talking about?

Conway fires back:” That tweet was likely in reference to the sanctions package that the president signed because it’s a good step forward, but that he’s also been critical. And also, look, if you’re Russia, you can’t be happy with President Trump. We’re now exporting coal to Eastern Europe–

STEPHANOPOULOS: “But Kellyanne, wait a second.”

CONWAY: “He’s beefing up the military.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just stop you right there. Because the president signed that legislation. There’s been widespread pushback from members of Congress, including Republicans like Senator John McCain and others who say Russia is responsible, Russia with its actions in Ukraine, Russia its actions with interfering in our election, Russia is the one responsible for relations being at an all time low, but the president blames Congress.”

CONWAY: “No, he doesn’t blame congress.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “That’s what the tweet did.”

CONWAY: I’m talking about the sanctions package. But Russia overall this president has been very tough on Russia when it comes to, again, dipping into their energy capabilities in the region. We’re now exporting coal to Eastern Europe. Beefing up the military, putting that money and that manpower and presidential imprimatur power behind an emboldened and a better-financed military.

And also look at what the decisive, swift and I would say internationally acclaimed action President Trump took in April when Assad was gassing his own people, including those babies we all saw, gasping and taking their last breaths of air.

The president very swiftly, I think against what Russia wanted done frankly, took action in Syria.  So you know he met with President Putin for over two hours face to face. We know that if we can work on the big issues with Russia like defeating ISIS and not calling them our determined enemies, like Hillary Clinton did a year ago, and not putting them in full retreat or defeat calling them the JV team that was losing power, as President Obama did, then we’ll work on the issues.  We’re very happy that Russia was one of the 15 members unanimously voted for sanctions yesterday on North Korea, five permanent members, and 10 rotating members.”

Then there were the contradictory statements regarding Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with the Russians. STEPHANOPOULOS: “Two very different answers in the space of two weeks there, Kellyanne.”

CONWAY: The most important thing that Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said there, which is completely true, is that there’s no consequence to any of these meetings. The president weighed in as a father. He did not dictate the statement.

STEPHANOPOULOS: “But first the White House and the president’s lawyer said he wasn’t involved at all. They didn’t tell the truth.”

CONWAY: “George, you know, I know there’s this whole thing about …

STEPHANOPOULOS: “About telling the truth.”

CONWAY: “Well, let’s talk about telling the truth. Let’s talk about a president looking Americans in the eye, who are still suffering eight years later, who were lied to. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Benghazi happened because of a video. Go tell the families of those four innocent Americans…”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Kellyanne, you’re simply changing the subject.”

CONWAY (undaunted): –” who were slaughtered in Benghazi that that lie mattered.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Hold on a second. You’re changing the subject.”

CONWAY: “No. No. That is a subject. Let’s talk about credibility that impacts people.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Going back to President Obama and Hillary Clinton.”

CONWAY: “Those were big lies!”

STEPHANOPOULOS: — “directly different responses within two weeks. How do you explain that?”

CONWAY: George —

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Can the president and his team get control of that and be open and truthful about the Russia investigation?”

CONWAY: “George, the president has said the entire investigation is fabricated. That this is a conclusion in search of evidence. They’ve come up with nothing. We’ve been doing this for almost — about a year now, and what is there to show for it? What has actually metastasized in a way that we can say, wow, there’s a smoking gun? There’s a silver bullet? I spent a lot of time with you during the campaign as a campaign manager, on your two programs, and others with ABC as well. What one thing did we ever say, do, or conspire that had anything to do with Russia? When I needed negative information about Hillary Clinton, I took a moment and I listened to Hillary Clinton. I mean, we went to Michigan, not Moscow.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Kellyanne, but wait a second. We know right now” —

CONWAY: “We went to Mecklenburg” —

STEPHANOPOULOS: “We know now what has come up in just the last few weeks is that Don Junior. responded to an e-mail saying that he was going to get Russian government information on Hillary Clinton. That was not out during the campaign. That was revealed just in the last several weeks.”

CONWAY: “Right. But what came of that meeting? Nothing. Jared Kushner shared with the House and Senate committees and then with all of us in a public statement at the White House about 10 days ago, George, that he had texted an aide and said please get me out of this meeting, it’s a waste of time.

If you’re getting dirt on your political opponent, if you’re getting the silver bullet and the secret sauce on how to win the election, you don’t ask your aide to pull you out of the meeting. You say please order lunch. Let’s just stay. There’s nothing. There’s nonsense. It was a ridiculous meeting. It was nothing. People want to — people want to offer their services and have meetings all of the time, believe me. I know — YOU know this. But let’s look at the consequence — no follow-up. No results.”

And so it went.

Kellyanne Conway may have the toughest job in the Trump White House.  Trump tweets salvo after salvo and leaves Kellyanne Conway to take the return fire.  Machine-Gun Kelly handles the incoming flack like no one we’ve ever seen. George Kelly Barnes would blush.

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16 responses to “Machine-Gun Kelly – Trump’s Recoilless Defensive Weapon”

  1. susan duman says:

    Does Kelly Ann really deserve the copy you have given her? I get her book smarts and her degrees, but beyond that she leaves me in the cold.
    My new hope is Kelly, the chief of staff. If he can do what they say he should do, our president will be somewhat reigned in.
    Have you read THE GENERAL by C.S Forester? Kelly said he reread it before accepting this job.

  2. Hal says:

    Yes, we do believe she warrants the coverage.

  3. Philip HIXON says:

    Long but worth the time. Thanks for sending it.

  4. Robert borns says:

    Kelly makes commentators look like dam fools when they oppose her. She makes pros against her look like amateurs. Another example of trumps ability to hire quality.

  5. Eddie says:

    I am always in awe of people who can make chicken salad out of chicken s**t. Good job Machine-gun Kelly.

  6. m m kaback says:

    Amazing that you two see this lying (“alternative facts”), super- spinning loud mouth as anything but the hired slave to her repulsive master! You now join her as entirely UNBELIEVABLE.

  7. Harold Paley says:

    very interesting passing on to those i know who do not receive

  8. Harold Paley says:

    interesting read will pass on thanks

  9. We do see her as something more than “the hired slave to her repulsive master.”

  10. Christine Haedt says:

    Very insightful, Hal, and I do believe she warrants the coverage. The fact that this country is so divided, its refreshing , and an opportunity for us to receive an education on one that deserves it, even if she is on your opposing political side this presidential term of office. I will be passing it on to many.

  11. Judy says:

    Smartest person ever on White House staff

  12. Judy says:

    Agree with the other Judy… smartest fastest thinking person on White House staff …

  13. SHEILA says:

    Every time that woman opens her mouth, I wonder how she sleeps at night. I agree she is smart — way too smart to believe a word she is saying. And at the end of the day, she has sold her soul to the devil –who can forget her remark on “alternate facts”. She has no credibility and clearly, no integrity. So what has she got?

  14. Re: “Sheila” — She has an enormous audience every time she appears on any network news broadcast. That’s essentially “what she has got.” We find it illuminating that while Conway almost immediately corrected her “alternate facts” comment, explaining she meant “alternate information,” absolutely no one in the media is using her corrected language. As our readers know, we are no fans of the Trump White House or, for that matter, of President Trump, but we count Conway among his better staffing decisions. Those who can’t stand Trump, can’t stand the person (any person) whose job it is to clean up after him. In our opinion, Kellyanne Conway performs that job skillfully and effectively.

  15. Steve Marcus says:

    All this does is cement Kelley Anne’s credentials as a great snake oil salesperson and apologist for a con artist. But in plying her trade she is participating in doing major damage to our most important institutions starting with a free and independent press.

  16. We agree that the on-going scrum between the White House and the press is childish, deplorable and damaging. Ultimately, it will prove more damaging to the Administration than to the press. Unfortunately, war between the White House and the press has a very long pedigree, going all the way back to the first Adams Administration. Earlier battles between the press and the White House, make the current dust-off seem as child’s play. Our institutions will endur. Our assessment of Conway remains unchanged.

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