This has been a bad period for President Trump with his lawyer Michael Cohen getting convicted, Paul Manafort, his former campaign chair, already pleaded guilty, and Michael Flynn, national security advisor, also found guilty. And added to it are the Syrian withdrawal and the impending government closure.
His communications team is much concerned, and wants to help by varnishing his image. It is a private initiative so they have arranged to meet at the Old Ebbitt Grill, the iconic tavern offering American meals, situated close to the White House at 675 15th St NW.
The entire senior team is there with Assistant to the President and White House Communications Director Bill Shine, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications Jessica Ditto, Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp, and Assistant to the President and Director of Social Media Dan Scavino.
To ensure privacy they have decided to refer to the president in code: ‘HF’ – hire and fire, alluding to the Apprentice television series.
Sanders, signals the server to uncork the bottle, and starts the discussion, “You all agree that the situation is dire. None of us are leaving, unless we are fired but we need to find ways to improve HF’s image.”
Shine adds, “Obama is acting like he is on his presidential campaign trail…”
Raj Shah quickly adds, “Nah. This is yet another dirty Democratic… a smear campaign. Obama is there giving the gentler touch… Michelle is doing her part… all this is part of effort to show that HF lacks the passion.”
Schlapp, nearly smashing her glass on the table, declares, “Absolutely awful. No care for the office he has held. He is still called president. He does things like carrying a sack of gifts… calls himself a ‘stand-in Santa’.”
Sanders, “Let us focus on our guy. I think whatever we may think but this MBS [Mohammad Bin Salman] is doing a terrific job at image building. Look he went to G20 [summit in Argentina]. Yes, a few ignored him, but he was there…”
Shah offers, “Sandy, don’t forget, our American brainpower behind all this. Our very own McKinsey & Company doing the playbook [for him].”
Sanders continues, “Raj, I see that. But imagine the amount he spent on hosting the Formula E Championship race [in Ad Diriyah, a suburb of Riyadh], topped with having world famous pop stars including Enrique Iglesias, David Guetta and the Black Eyed Peas.
“And they got the Saudi media to report that this event was a gift from the Prince.”
Raj Shah offers his views, “You know the Indian Americans are a strong segment. I am an Indian American. There are powerful Indian Americans in technology and trade. Our Nikki [Haley] is one great public servant. I would say that HF would score great by cuddling with Indian Americans. We have eight Hindu festivals coming up in January and six in February. Yes, it is cold in Washington, but we can get Indian Americans in the White House for these festivities. Another eight in March, but we can do a big one on March 21, the Holi… our ‘festival of colors’.
“I would say that hosting Holi would be great. We can have HF getting splashed with colors. This will be real kinder, gentler side in display.”
Shine exclaims, “Raj, that is fine but how do you assure that his hair doesn’t get colored?”
Shah assures, “I will make sure that they use more orange.”
Scavino asks, “But Raj, March is still cold for romping outdoors in this city.”
Shah again assures, “Don’t worry we will get everything done indoors. After all the White House has rooms in different colors. We will get Microsoft’s Satya [Nadella]… Google’s Sundar [Pichai]… kind of people around whom HF is comfortable… billionaires all. But imagine the impact, HF drenched in colors…”
Jessica Ditto speaks out, “Raj, I think the impact thing is fine but to show a real happy HF, if we could get [Indian prime minister] Modi to order like a couple of hundred billion dollars worth of arms, and the message flashes as HF is being splashed with color. Just imagine the impact. Millions of Americans rejoicing the news about jobs to come and the wives and girlfriends looking forward to shopping trips!”
Bill Shine trying to wrap up the session, offers, “Whew what a great discussion we’ve had. I can imagine the impact on the American voter seeing their president colored in so many hues.
“But I would say that get Ivanka [Trump] to do a few fundraisers so we can hire McKinsey and get their ideas too.”
Sanders sums up, “I agree with all of you guys, but I will add one more thing that we get [son-in-law] Jared [Kushner] to call MBS and discuss the ways he found the vibe to go such a relaxed and laid back way.
“It is the body language that matters. Our HF needs the attitude. He is doing the killing in Afghanistan, Syria… MBS can give him the trick that you can kill and still buy your way out.”