There is a basic rule about “talking points”: you follow them but do not quote them as talking points. That lesson seems to have escaped former House Speaker and Trump confidant Newt Gingrich who has caused a stir by revealing that President-elect Donald Trump is now disclaiming his pledge to “drain the swamp.” Instead, Trump is focusing on working with Congress to get his priorities through in rapid succession from opening up new drilling to rescinding Obamacare. Update: Donald Trump has denied Gingrich’s representation and Gingrich now says that he simply got it wrong.
Gingrich told NPR that “I’m told he now just disclaims that He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore.” Gingrich said that he was told to back off and that the new Administration wants to drop the pledge after Gingrich tweeted out how “the alligators are complaining.”
Trump was always open that he used the phrase simply because it resonates with crowds on the campaign trail:
“‘Drain the swamp.’ We put it in about two days ago. I said, ‘Drain the swamp.’ I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the expression: ‘Drain the swamp in Washington’ So I said it three days ago; the place went crazy. I said, ‘You know what? I’m starting to like that expression.’ And now it’s a hot — it’s like trending all over the world.”
For Trump voters, the problem may be more than optics. Trump has turned to a fair number of insiders including the wife of Michael McConnell as Secretary of Transportation, the department with the lion’s share of the expected infrastructure bill. In reality however the swamp denizens were never seriously concerned about drainage. Trump would not be the first president to vanish into the semi-aquatic vegetative conditions of Washington. While many in Washington reject evolution, they rely on the theory for populist politicians who tend to evolve quickly with the conditions of the capitol.