She didn’t dominate the Electoral College (as Donald Trump did). She didn’t get a 68.8 million share of the popular vote (that would be Hillary Clinton). She won’t hold a Cabinet-level position. In fact, she didn’t even run.
But if you close your eyes and just listen to TV news and talk shows on CNN, Fox and elsewhere, or keep track of the traffic on Twitter, you might be excused for thinking that America elected Kellyanne Conway as its first woman president.
Like the dude who did get elected president, her boss Donald Trump, Conway is a Twitter addict.
Like the man whose campaign she helped salvage, Conway revels in blood-sport politics – the give and the take, the gotcha moments, the incessant spinning – even if at times logic escapes her and repetition is her only friend.
Like the attention hog she explains, covers for and attempts to extricate from mud holes of his own making, Conway is all about the hair and seems partial to extreme makeup.
She is not going to be Chief of Staff in the Trump White House. That’s the job of outgoing GOP National Chairman Reince Priebus, a professional explainer and apologist steeped in the ways of the Republican Establishment.
She is not going to be Press Secretary. That would be Priebus protégé, Sean Spicer.
She is not even going to be communications chief. That job was going to Jason Miller, but he begged off after an alleged affair with another member of the transition team was revealed.
Instead, largely of her own choosing, Conway will be Counselor to the President. But that nebulous title doesn’t begin to describe the depth of her power.
If the Trump campaign and transition were war zones, Conway would be G.I. Jane, assault weapons in each hand and bandoliers of bullets crisscrossing her chest, always at the barricades, frequently on the offensive and when need be, willing to take no prisoners. She is the combat platoon leader.
With Trump, who hasn’t held a news conference since July, so far restricting himself to 140-character barrages on Twitter and hurried interactions with the “dishonest media” in the lobby of Faulty Tower as he photo-ops with this dignitary or that business mogul or more likely some sycophantic pol looking for work, Conway sometimes seems like the battlefield general, too.
When failed 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney came low crawling to Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, thinking that even after trashing the GOP nominee for months he might be considered for Secretary of State, the president-elect appeared to be gracious and forgiving though he may have been just toying with Mr. Perfect.
If Romney ever had a prayer of being a waiter in the White House Mess, Conway dropped a platter of dirty dishes on his head in a series of Sunday talk show appearances. That led to a round of criticism for seeming to overstep her pay grade, but she didn’t back down, and the un-chosen Romney would up looking like a well-heeled fool.
Perhaps she was just being a loyal acolyte of Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire’s daughter who brought her into the Trump campaign and first emerged as a Republican player in late 2012 with a post-defeat takedown of Romney, as The Washington Post reported in a prescient profile.
But whatever her path to power, Conway now appears to be a force unto herself. And clearly, she relishes her day in the sun.
Sometimes Conway meets her match, as she did in a face-off with Chris Cuomo of CNN last week when he pressed her on Trump’s reluctance to concede that Russia was involved in attempting to disrupt the American presidential election (he has since accepted the conclusions of U.S. intelligence).
But for the most part, Conway is informed, unafraid and unapologetic when she tangles with the media.
And unlike the incoming Commander-in-Chief who can force a smile but rarely seems to laugh, Conway has a sense of humor.
On Sunday, she re-tweeted a post she called “Best tweet ever.” It was a reference to the Giants’ defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers in an NFL wild-card game. It read: “Odell Beckham Jr. Hillary Clinton. Neither showed up in Wisconsin.”
Now that’s funny.