GOP Elites Are Going to Try to Create Another “Committee to Save America”
A look at the supposed “normies” who will attempt to sell the country on a second Trump administration.
REMEMBER THE “COMMITTEE TO SAVE AMERICA”?
That was the name given to the loose-knit group of military leaders, finance guys, and establishment GOP congressional leaders who, back in 2017, thought that by taking jobs in the Trump administration they could, as Axios put it, “protect Trump and the nation from disaster.”
How’d that turn out again?
Guess the committee didn’t quite achieve its objective!
As we lurch into the 2024 campaign, a new conventional wisdom has emerged about how Trump will put a different, more dictatorial model in place should he be re-elected. With Project 2025 and Agenda 47 underway, Trump 2.0 will be swarming with sycophants eager to provide raw fascistic Trumpism, no protection needed.
But over the last few weeks, I’ve come to realize the new conventional wisdom doesn’t have it quite right.
Yes, it’s true that Trump 2.0 will be more radical, more authoritarian, more ultra-MAGA than the original. Yes, it’s true that, like a velociraptor learning how to open doors, Trump knows his way around the place now and will be better at executing on his autocratic plans and random whims as 47 than he was as 45. And yes, it’s also true that people around him will feel more emboldened than his first-term staffers, because they will know that the president would pardon them for any approved offense.
BUT ONE THING WILL BE THE SAME as the first go-round.
There will once again be a group of patsies willing to be the Trump administration’s front-men and front-women, offering themselves as tributes to the wannabe strongman.
They will be put forth as evidence that Trump will be constrained, that dictatorship is not imminent, that there will still be a few “adults in the room.” Moreover, there will be mainstream, establishment figures who encourage “good people” to serve because they still hold on to their belief that Trump can be reined in and the office must be protected.
So brace yourself: In the weeks ahead, you are going to be introduced to “Committee To Save America 2.0: We Protect. We Serve. We Care.”
The new committee will be weaker and more pliant than its predecessor. But like the previous version, it will serve the purpose of comforting the Republican elites and Wall Street Journal–reading voters who want to go to bed at night without worrying that they might be accidentally ending the American experiment.
And Trump will elevate these kinds of people alongside his loyalists. He will do so not only because of his lizard political survival instinct, but also because he is a man-child who wants to keep up airs and have people around him who “look the part,” which helps him feel “respected.”
WHILE INTERVIEWING STEVE BANNON a few months ago, I was struck by something he said about the next Trump cabinet. Bannon thought that John Ratcliffe, the former Trump director of national intelligence with a bona-fide resume of public service, would be back in a new Trump administration in a national security role. Now Ratcliffe is very conservative, to be sure, but his appointment would be separated by a category difference from the elevation of a banana-republic alternative like Kash Patel or Jeffrey Clark.
Why did Bannon think Ratcliffe would get the offer before those guys? Well, the former DNI director has a 2 handicap, and Trump likes to have good golfers around.
And then there was the Axios report that Trump was considering Jamie Dimon for the cabinet because the former president “is open to a few more mainstream picks if they bring celebrity or pizzazz.”
Now Dimon, notwithstanding his pathetic, lickspittle performance in Davos last week, is not likely to go work for Trump. But there is plenty of evidence that people with legitimate resumes and mainstream reputations want to be recruited. Most of them will be ambitious strivers happy to do Trump’s bidding. And a few will be well-intentioned fools tantalized by the prospect of working in the White House, convincing themselves that they will avoid the grave risks that come with the gig.
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We saw a prime example of how it will happen this week on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, where Tim Scott, the supposed ‘good Republican’ who wanted to provide an inspirational antidote to grievance-based politics, performed one of the most obsequious vice-presidential auditions in American history. Guy was like a theater kid desperate to win the understudy role hamming it up for Mr. Schuester during tryouts. LOVE MEEEEE. PICK MEEEEEE. I will be SOOOO loyal, Mr. Trump! “I just love you!”
Add in Elise Stefanik and Mike Pompeo and the rumor that Marco Rubio is in the mix for the job Scott wants, and there seem to be plenty of normal-ish Republicans who are happy to risk being hanged to join Trump’s ticket. Other elected Republicans are angling for other high-ranking positions. Mike Lee and Tom Cotton have been puffing up Trump on Twitter, and the scuttlebutt is that they might have their eyes on SCOTUS and SecDef, respectively.
It’s also worth remembering that Trump’s campaign leadership features mostly establishment consultants who will certainly want to bring at least a few of their normie friends on board. There’s Chris LaCivita, who has a long history of advising establishment Republicans, and Susie Wiles, my former boss on the Jon Huntsman campaign. (Huntsman himself chose to become Trump’s man in Russia last time around, and I suspect he would take a hard look at a prominent foreign policy post in a second Trump term if one were offered to him.)
Plus, there seems to be no shortage of business guys narcissistic enough to kowtow before the Orange God-King in exchange for a security detail and the inside track on some of that hot, hot Kushner/MBS cash.
So yes, in the end, a new Trump administration would be far more radical and dangerous than the last one. And on balance, it would have a much higher percentage of MAGA true believers, from the cabinet all the way down to the interns buying pens and making coffee. Hell, even Vivek could probably get a job.
But Trump and his team are not oblivious to perception.
The new Committee To Save America rollout is coming soon.
Don’t let the voters who might be persuaded by their act be fooled.