The news that Donald Trump has appointed Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee Chairman, as his Chief of Staff is shocking — shockingly conventional.
In his victory speech on Tuesday night, Trump made it clear that he felt he owed Priebus a lot for his campaign’s success. ‘Reince is really a star,’ he said. ‘And he is the hardest-working guy.’ So arguably the appointment is not a surprise.
As usual, however, Trump seems to be playing a cleverer game than his opponents realise. His administration team seemed happy to let the media believe that he was going to give the Chief of Staff job to Steve Bannon, his campaign manager and the head of Breitbart news. This would have been a much more Trumpist, less Republican, choice. Bannon and Breitbart are masters of the tear-down-everything, conspiracy-crazed movement that drove Trump’s campaign.
But then, as we are learning, Trumpism is never what it seems. The appointment of Priebus could go some way towards helping the rapprochement that appears to be taking place between Trump and his party.
It’s not all bad news for the Breitbart element within Trump’s coalition however. Bannon will be ‘chief strategist and senior counsellor’ to the next president, though what exactly this role will entail remains to be seen.