Dat’s a nice business what ya got there, pal. Be a shame if someone wuz ta . . . tweet about it:
Attention: corporate America.
For a fee, Corey Lewandowski, President Trump’s pugilistic former campaign manager, and Barry Bennett, a former Trump senior adviser, will protect you from “tweet risk” — what happens to the stock price and reputation of your company when the president tells his 26 million Twitter followers that you’re killing factory jobs or refusing to sell Ivanka Trump handbags.
“If he’s gonna come after you, there’s nothing we can do to stop it,” Mr. Bennett said of Avenue Strategies, the firm he and Mr. Lewandowski opened in offices overlooking Mr. Trump’s White House bedroom window. “But if you want to figure out how to win in this environment, we can help you.
“We’re your sherpa through turbulent times.”
The solution, of course, is to throw a bone to Donald Trump:
So far, the administration “hasn’t done much beyond “a few executive orders,” Mr. Bennett says. So he and Mr. Lewandowski are pressing American companies to “call Jared Kushner and tell him you’re gonna build a new factory,” or invite Mr. Trump to “fly somewhere, cut a ribbon, and high-five 200 employees.”
It’s even OK if he lies about what he made your business do for America — as long as you keep your damned mouth shut about it:
Mr. Bennett says the two men advised Lockheed Martin, not a current client, on how to recover from a “horrible” meeting with Mr. Trump after he tweeted, “Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Mr. Bennett said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s chief executive, led a “boring” presentation about stuff like “procurement reform,” for a president who asked why the United States can’t lease fighter planes. Mr. Trump wanted a win, and the advisers told Lockheed how to give him one.
Two weeks later, Mr. Trump was on TV saying, “I was able to get $600 million approximately off those planes.” In fact, the savings were years in the making and had nothing to do with Mr. Trump, but Lockheed didn’t point that out.
Mr. Trump has taken credit for jobs announcements by ExxonMobil, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Walmart, Sprint, Intel, SoftBank and Alibaba. All of these were in the works before Mr. Trump won the presidency, and many may never come to pass. Yet the companies involved play along, rather than risk his wrath.
This is all about as subtle as the Vercotti brothers in this Monty Python clip:
You’ve got a nice Army base here, Colonel. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to it. . . Things break, don’t they?
Presidential pressure on private companies is nothing new; Herbert Hoover famously jawboned businessmen to keep wages up at the beginning of the Depression — a destructive policy continued by FDR that helped fuel skyrocketing unemployment. Nor is there anything new about a business quietly acquiescing to a president’s propaganda campaign. Under FDR, businesses “voluntarily” put signs in their windows with a picture of a blue eagle, to show that the businesses supported FDR’s National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the ruinous regulations that came with it. Like Trump’s “populism,” FDR’s grandstanding was popular while economically disastrous, and business owners knew it. But while a business owner might despise NRA regulations, he would still put the blue eagle in his window — so the public could see he was on board with the President’s Depression-lengthening program.
No, this sort of thuggery is nothing new. The swamp has been around forever. If you think it’s going away now, you’ve been conned.