“It is time to drain the swamp, in Washington, DC.”
Donald Trump’s motto in quotes has come under criticism of late because of the combined wealth and lobbyist experience in his top cabinet choices, and was perhaps redefined by Kellyanne Conway this week in an interview with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham.
The president-elect repeated the slogan on the campaign trail, an initiative he first made at the KI Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on October 17. In the final month of his storied path to the White House, “Drain The Swamp!” became a rallying cry chanted by his crowds of supporters and surrogates across major media, most notably by Ms. Conway herself. The term can find roots in the approach to ridding swamps of malaria-carrying mosquitoes but according to a Roll Call article called “A History Of Draining The Swamp” was politicized most famously by Ronald Reagan in a 1983 speech. The term has since been used as a political metaphor by Donald Trump and his agenda to take on DC corporate cronyism, lobbyist influence, and excess of government.
In a December 20 radio interview with Ingraham, Kellyanne spoke about many of the incoming administration’s political leanings, though she did not speak specifically on behalf of Mr. Trump regarding policy.
When asked about Trump’s immigration policy and his campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the country, Ms. Conway referred to the December 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting by Syed Rizwan Farook, an American-born U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, inspired by Islamic extremism and responsible for the deaths of 14 Americans and injuries to 22 more.
“…There are countries that train and harbor and export terrorists. ISIS Terrorists……when the Syrian refugees started spilling over the borders and into Europe and into some states here where these governors will allow it,…ISIS basically said we’ll come into United States and Europe as a Syrian refugee..they put us on notice that the vetting process is under served, it’s underwhelming.”
Conway alluded to the fact that Farook’s wife entered the country by way of a “fiance visa,” currently a legal means of obtaining a green card, but reinforced the notion that a President Trump would uphold his pledge to halt immigration from terror havens.
The conversation moved to the issue of Donald Trump’s promise to drain the swamp, and the recent questions about whether he was interested in draining it at all. Ingraham then asked her about the president-elect’s refusal to divest his business interests in a blind trust.
Ingraham: “He said it’s not about his business at this point, so… why not divest himself of these interests?…and he said ‘Drain The Swamp’, so..”
Conway: “All of that is being discussed. It has come at a great expense frankly to the Trump family, and people should realize how much they’ve sacrificed for him to run for president….You can organize your affairs and still drain the swamp,….let me put everyone on notice, draining the swamp is not just about lobbyists and politicians, it’s about consultants. We are cleaning up for what I have referred to for years as “staff infection”. We are going to inoculate, immunize and eliminate what I call staff infection. There are no more no-show jobs for consulting.”
This shift in perspective allows the motto to remain while justifying what appeared to be a team of lobbyists and business elite among Donald Trump’s inner circle, cited by CBS News as the richest cabinet in U.S. history. The suggestion by Kellyanne Conway, who in November became the first woman to run a winning presidential campaign and was recently the first woman ever named as senior counsel to a U.S. president, is that the excesses of government can be defined under the terms of government organizations operating overstaffed and over budget, not just lobbyists and special interests. Her gift for re-framing the context of Mr. Trump’s often bold, if not vague, statements on social media has led her to be the lead representative of the president-elect, and as she redefined the motto of “drain the swamp” for the new year, she paraphrased Reagan himself by saying, “while he (Trump) is draining the swamp, I’m not going to let anyone throw anymore crocodiles in.”
The full interview can be heard here on YouTube:
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]