Monday, April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017--Trumpology

In the old days of the Soviet Union, since it was a closed system impervious to Western snooping, one way to read the currents and countercurrents of Soviet leadership--who was in, who was rising, and who was about to be disappeared--was to analyze the pictures of the fur-hatted inner circle arrayed on the top of Lenin's tomb during May Day and other revolutionary celebrations.

Kremlinologists in Washington were tasked to figure this out and they did so by comparing from year to year who was moving into closer proximity to Lenin or Stalin and who was about to slide off the picture plane and soon thereafter into the literal abyss.

Where is the notorious Lavrentiy Beria, head of the fearsome KGB, this year? What about Molotov? Is he losing or gaining power and influence? And who is this upstart Nikita Khrushchev who's star seems to be rising--last year he was nowhere in sight; this year he's only four places from Stalin?

With the inner circle of the Trump White House in turmoil, with the Steve Bannon faction trying to oust son-in-law Jared Kushner and his allies, with Reince Priebus struggling to hold on as chief of staff, and with others close to Trump denying that anything of this sort is going on, with everyone spinning and lying, to get to the truth, as with the Russians, we are left with having to analyze images of the president's unruly team in action. We need to do a content analyst of them in much the same way that we used to try to figure out what was happening in Moscow.

Look carefully of the picture below. It is of the Mar-a-Lago situation room where Trump and his team retired Thursday afternoon to discuss the missile attack on a Syrian airbase.

Mar-a-Lago Situation Room

Seated at the adult table, of course, are Trump at its head and an assortment of Cabinet secretaries. To Trump's left is Rex Tillerson, the almost mute Secretary of State who up to now, nearly three months into the Trump presidency, has not spoken many more than 200 words in public. Across from him, at the president's right are fellow billionaires Wilber Ross, Secretary of Commerce and Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, who is not quite at the table. And then it gets interesting.

To Mnuchin's right, decidedly at the table is Jared Kushner and across from him, not at the table but leaning aggressively forward is Gary Cohn, Trump's favorite economic advisor and Kushner ally, who is being discussed as Reince Priebus' replacement. At the table, with the growing bald spot or tonsure is Priebus himself who appears to need to be careful because Cohn is eyeing him ominously and is about about to pounce on him and seize both his chair and job.

Most interesting to Trumpologists is where Steven Bannon is relegated. Earlier in the week he was unceremoniously dumped from his self-assigned seat on the "Principals Committee" of the National Security Council. Here, about as far away from the adult table at a small children's side table of his own, is the dramatically deflated Senior Strategist. And because of the nasty way in which the picture is framed it looks as if Bannon is wearing a lampshade on his head.

 Moscow, Palm Beach--a picture is worth at least a thousand words.

And, oh, my advice-don't bet against the son-in-law.

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