The big news in The Washington Post this weekend? The headline! "Inside Trump’s White House, New York moderates spark infighting and suspicion."
This was a shocker built on two stunning revelations.
First, did you know that Donald Trump -- who has surrounded himself with chaos at every stage of his public life -- has created a White House staff that appears to exist in a constant state of chaos? Shocking! As many has noted, Trump has always said that he enjoys hearing a wide range of viewpoints, even if that creates conflict, knowing that he gets to make the final decision.
Then there was shocker No. 2: Did you know that the style, priorities and values of "moderate" (a label that in elite media-speak means, "good guys in this context") New Yorkers are often different kinds of people than the populist and cultural conservatives who live in red-zip-code America? Can you imagine?!
Now, when you look at this buzz-producing Post political thriller from a GetReligion perspective it contains one more stunning revelation: Apparently these chaotic clashes are rooted in personalities and pure political gamesmanship and have nothing to do with hot-button issues linked to culture and religion!
At least, that is how things play out when the script is written by the pros at the Post political desk. Here is the overture and how-we-did-it summary for this feature:
Inside the White House, they are dismissed by their rivals as “the Democrats.”
Outspoken, worldly and polished, this coterie of ascendant Manhattan business figures-turned-presidential advisers is scrambling the still-evolving power centers swirling around President Trump.
Led by Gary Cohn and Dina Powell -- two former Goldman Sachs executives often aligned with Trump’s elder daughter and his son-in-law -- the group and its broad network of allies are the targets of suspicion, loathing and jealousy from their more ideological West Wing colleagues.
Of course, the daughter and the son-in-law have already been hailed as the voices of urbane reason when it comes to issues of "religious liberty" -- they probably even put that ordinary First Amendment term inside scare quotes -- and sexual liberty. Also note that the Post team believes that this camp of "Democrats" does not have a strong ideology and its members are not prone to fits of suspicion, loathing and jealousy, while their opponents struggle with all of that.
Let's keep reading.
On the other side are the Republican populists driving much of Trump’s nationalist agenda and confrontations, led by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who has grown closer to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in part to counter the New Yorkers.
As Trump’s administration enters its third month, the constant jockeying and backbiting among senior staff is further inflaming tensions at a time when the White House is struggling on numerous fronts -- from the endangered health-care bill to the controversial budget to the hundreds of top jobs still vacant throughout the government.
Once again, no tensions here about issues linked to culture and social issues.
Come to think of it, readers should note that this story's only reference to Vice President Mike Pence -- the most symbolic social conservative in the Trump mix -- noted where he sat during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Apparently, he is irrelevant.
The anonymous voices march through this piece like flag-wavers on parade. To its credit, the Post political pros -- the alphas in this Beltway newsroom -- are very open about this.
The emerging turf war has led to fights over White House protocol and access to the president, backstabbing and leaks to reporters, and a heated Oval Office showdown over trade refereed by the president himself.
This account of the internal workings of Trump’s team is based on interviews with 18 top White House officials, confidants of the president and other senior Republicans with knowledge of the relationships, many of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly.
Now, that is pretty much the end of any content in this piece that would be of interest to Americans whose primary concerns focus on moral and social issues, as opposed to the fine details of personality wars and political chess matches. It should be noted that, in a massive show of restraint, which I will praise -- the Post team did not turn this chaotic drama into a wrestling match between East Coast Jews and heartland evangelical Protestants.
Otherwise, I was left pondering this: While it appears that the Post editors were rather candid when it came to the nature of the anonymous sourcing for this piece, is it possible that, well, they didn't mention that most or all of the sources came from the New York and social libertarian side of these arguments?
Is it possible that these are the members of the Trump team that feel more comfortable sharing information and opinions with the Post political team, which has emerged as kind of the Breitbart of the grieving DC left?
Read the whole piece. Did I miss something? Is the message here, if one reads between the lines, that the religious and social conservatives who flocked (or limped, as a final resort) to Trump have already been betrayed and now play zero role in the White House? Or is that the point of view of Trump team members who are willing to meet in secret with Post people?