A fun turnabout insofar as Trump fans have shrieked with horror over the last month or two whenever one of his random conservative critics on Twitter has proposed an informal blacklist of prominent Republican Trump boosters. “When we’re back in power, Hannity’s done! Laura Ingraham? Done! Coulter? Totally done!” Sure, buddy. Sure they are. It’s lame and delusional, but we all cope in our own way with the hard reality that many big-name “conservatives” turned out not to care much about conservative dogma once they had a nationalist demagogue in front of them. Anyway, I don’t have a problem with this, at least as it pertains to his own campaign, although I hope we all realize that it’s not true-believing #NeverTrumpers who are going to suffer from the policy. By definition, they wouldn’t work with Trump even if he offered. The main target is certain vendors who worked with #NeverTrumpers but are now open to working with the nominee. Team Trump is considering its own personal secondary boycott of those firms.
Can’t fault the guy for not wanting to hire people who have vowed never to support him as he’d never be able to trust that they were giving their best effort. I think you can fault him for not wanting to hire otherwise neutral firms that simply took a buck from #NeverTrump outfits, but that’s really an own goal. If he wants to forfeit his access to professionals who could potentially do good work for him, hey. It’d be in keeping, at least, with his campaign rhetoric that GOP consultants are corrupt and useless and that it’s time to do things a different way. But that dilemma, whether to try to coopt the establishment or cull them, is a problem for Trump fans.
How about if the blacklist extends to hiring by the RNC, though? Now you’re talking about passing over capable vendors who want to help the party at large, especially the Republicans who are running for Congress this year. At what point does Trump’s vindictiveness towards his critics become a party problem, not just a Trump problem?
“The Never Trump vendors and supporters shouldn’t be in striking distance of the RNC, any of its committees or anyone working on behalf of Donald Trump,” said a Trump campaign official.
The blacklist talk — which sources say mostly targets operatives who worked for Never Trump groups, but also some who worked for Trump’s GOP presidential rivals or their supportive super PACs — strikes against a Republican consulting class that Trump has assailed as a pillar of a corrupt political establishment. It’s a sweet bit of turnabout for Trump aides and consultants who in recent months were warned that their work for the anti-establishment billionaire real estate showman could diminish their own career prospects…
TargetPoint, which has been paid at least $156,000 this year by [the anti-Trump group] Our Principles PAC, as compared to at least $9.8 million over the years by the RNC, would welcome the chance to continue its relationship with the national party during Trump’s campaign, said Brent Seaborn, a partner at the firm. “We have built a lot and have a lot planned, and I would hate to see that not developed, so I certainly hope that we continue with that work,” he said.
Sources close to Trump’s campaign told Politico that it won’t be a blanket blacklist of everyone who worked with Our Principles, just select people who seemed to embrace the #NeverTrump mission with gusto. If true, that makes the blacklist more tolerable: It’s back to being a case of politely declining help from people whose enthusiasm about “helping” Trump is in question. Still doesn’t answer the question about the RNC, though. If this is a matter of cutting ties between the party and all “establishment” consultants in the name of King Trump’s glorious revolution, okay, but that would result in many more firms being blocked than just the anti-Trump ones. Come to think of it, maybe the blacklist is just PR designed to soften the blow to Trump’s fans when it comes out that he and the RNC will be using many of the same-old same-old GOP establishment professionals to run his campaign. “What are you complaining about?” they can say to Trump’s fans. “We purged the traitors who went #NeverTrump! The rest of these very rich insiders are assisting the revolution.” To which most Trump fans will reply: Well, okay. If His Majesty hath deemed it wise, who are we to argue?
If you believe Roger Stone, though, there’s another angle to all this:
“This is really about the money at the RNC,” Trump confidant Roger Stone alleged in a little-noticed online interview this week. “Millions and millions and millions of dollars that Reince and Ryan want to hand out to favored vendors, so they are going to try to game plan Trump. They’re going to try to barter Paul Ryan’s endorsement in return for financial control and autonomy for the RNC, the Republican National Committee. That would be an egregious mistake, in my opinion. But this is part and parcel of the establishment effort to slow down Donald Trump.”
“Barter Paul Ryan’s endorsement”? Ryan’s endorsement is a fait accompli at this point, as yesterday’s post-meeting press conference all but confirmed. The only way Ryan would dare risk withholding his support and becoming the Trump movement’s Emmanuel Goldstein if Trump went on to lose the election is if his polling against Hillary turned so ridiculously bad that Ryan had no choice but to stay far, far away. That polling downturn would have to happen soon too, since Ryan will be under heavy pressure to back Trump before the convention — and if it did happen, Republican voters would dismiss it as early data that’s effectively meaningless in predicting November’s vote and would clamor for Ryan to endorse Trump anyway. There’s no way he holds out. Trump, knowing that, thus has no reason to “barter” away anything to gain Ryan’s support. Even if Ryan did end up holding out for some strange reason, that’s okay by Trump too. He’s already locked up plenty of establishment support, including Mitch McConnell’s, and could use Ryan as a foil in the general election by painting him as the sort of do-nothing smooth-talking establishment pol whom he’s running to save America from. Ryan has no real leverage over Trump and Stone knows it. What he’s giving you here, I think, is just populist nonsense designed to pit Trump against the corrupt Ryan/Priebus/RNC boogeyman that Trump’s fans hate. It’ll probably work.