Thursday, September 6, 2018

It was Colonel Mustard…in 1600 Pennsylvania…with a Pen

This is why I believe the mystery NY Times op-ed was written by the indefatigable, and ultimately indefensible, Ms. Kellyanne Conway:

It sounds like her. More precisely, it has the hallmarks of a Kellyanne piece that was run through a cheese grater with a pulse setting in an effort to conceal the author’s true identity.

Kellyanne had a reputation for being a solid performer on television. She was quick and could pivot well.  That said, her writing level was neither hacky nor elevated.  She was more Steve Augeri than Steve Perry, a middling talent.

But if she really put the editing hammer down, I think she could produce a functionally fluid piece such as this.  Moreover, there are certain turns of phrase which remind me of Kellyanne’s communications style.  Many of these are common enough, but it is their use in conjunction with one another which contributes to a sound that, to these ears, is quite reminiscent of Kellyanne’s speech patterns.


-       “looms large,”
-       the positioning of “policies” and “prosperous” in one sentence followed by “duty” and “detrimental” in the next one, same with “institutions” and “impulses,”
-       “cold comfort in this chaotic era.”
-       “tribalism trap”

Simple/Catchy Parallelisms (such as anaphora):

-       “free minds, free markets and free people”
-       “anti-trade and anti-democratic”
-       “off topic and off the rails”
-       The “deep state” vs. “steady state” construct shows a gift for subverting a hypothesis using a pithy echo.
-       How the author uses “fear” and “revere” (nice rhyme scheme in the comparative)

Imperatives as Pivot Devices:

-       “Don’t get me wrong.”
-       “Take foreign policy…”

Beyond that, let’s go to motive:

-       Kellyanne is fundamentally a survivor and she knows that the SS Trump is taking on water at a rapid clip.
-       She wants to “get right” with history (well, at least with a version of history with which modern conservatives can live) and, importantly protect her employability (serving in another Administration and/or as a well-compensated media figure).
-       She wants to emerge out of this fell chapter as one of the heroes. She is savvy enough about public perception to grasp the importance narrative shaping…and the reality that – as the Op-Ed author notes – “some of his aides have been cast as villains.”  In this light, this piece is a key step in reputation rehabilitation.  This is yet another reason why I believe the author is well-versed in communications theory and practice, as Kellyanne is.
-       If Trump resigns or is removed from office and Pence is elevated to the Presidency (which is a scenario that would likely serve the purposes of the Op-Ed writer) then Pence is going to need to bring in his own people, people he can trust, people with whom he has an existing relationship.  Totally unrelated fun fact: Kellyanne has worked with Pence for years.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.  I haven’t communicated with her in a long time, not since she used to pronounce “Clinton” as “Clin’in” (go find an old clip, you will hear it).   So perhaps I am wrong.  

That said, would I bet on her as the Scribbler? Let’s talk dollars and odds…

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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