Many may not appreciate Kellyanne Conway’s rhetoric, but there should be no doubt that she is the greatest illusionist since Harry Houdini. Her ability to justify what many people consider Donald Trump’s most deplorable actions has resulted in more popularity for him. Furthermore, Conway’s ability to redirect the media, as well as her perceived missteps, seem to aid the administration more than hurt it.
Conway successfully ran a campaign for one of the least electable candidates in history. During the election cycle, Trump spouted bigoted language more often than any other candidate, yet Conway was able to mitigate damage by communicating with the American people via the media. In fact, she appeared on cable television more frequently than any campaign manager in U.S. history.
In addition, though Trump was among the least qualified candidates, Conway used her years of political experience to facilitate his campaign’s penetration of what many thought were Democratic strongholds. She is also the first female campaign manager of a winning presidential race in history. She added a much-needed dose of femininity to the Trump campaign’s misogynistic image and helped increase his appeal among conservative women.
Conway also has a certain ability to skirt around direct questions and leave listeners bewildered. She is particularly adept at shifting commentators’ focus from the personalities of members of the Trump administration to the issues at hand. Once she begins talking about tangible issues, Conway seems to sneak in references to the atrocious mistakes supposedly committed by the previous administration. When that appears to be a dead end, she seamlessly switches back to talking about how hard Trump is working. Conway also succeeds in portraying negative coverage of her as sexist, especially when questions seem too disparaging. Though interviewers call for her to ‘answer the question,’ she can effortlessly avoid doing so. Despite criticism, she continues to make public appearances.
Even Conway’s missteps seem to be intelligently calculated. When she infamously referred to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s verifiably false information as ‘alternative facts,’ she clogged the news cycle, effectively drawing negative media attention away from Trump. Her reference to alternative facts was far less egregious than President Trump’s or Spicer’s unsubstantiated claims of mass voter fraud and inauguration attendance numbers, but with just two words she was able to avert the media’s attention from their lies. I suspect what some people may consider one of Conway’s greatest missteps was actually a calculated effort to help the administration.
Conway demonstrated this same evil genius of sorts when she mentioned the non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre” at about the same time that Trump was under fire for his unpopular and unconstitutional travel ban. It seems implausible that someone with political experience dating back 20 years would accidentally refer to an event that didn’t occur. It is much more likely that she intentionally redirected the media in order to draw attention away from Trump.
Whether one thinks Kellyanne Conway is an evil genius or just plain evil, it is hard to ignore her effectiveness at making President Trump look better than he otherwise would. Economic algorithms suggest that Conway's popularity and exposure made her financial value to the campaign several times more than her $2 million salary. Future campaign managers can learn a thing or two from her.