On Wednesday morning, the leader of the free world tweeted this:
“George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!”
Then, just before he left to give a speech in Ohio on Wednesday afternoon, Trump called George Conway a “wack job” and said Conway was “doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.”
It was the latest and most awkward chapter in the can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it-kind-of-like-a-slow-motion-car-crash story of Donald Trump, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway and her husband George Conway. And it seemed likely to bring the situation to a painful head – particularly after George Conway responded to Trump’s latest tweet with this succinct response: “You. Are. Nuts.”
Conway – George, that is – has emerged as one of Trump’s most high-profile critics largely via Twitter, which, given the President’s dependence on the social media platform, is delicious. Following Trump’s 50-plus tweets (and retweets) weekend, George Conway tweeted out the definitions of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Conway followed those images up with this: “His condition is getting worse.”
Asked Monday about her husband’s concerns for the President’s mental health, Kellyanne Conway said simply: “No, I don’t share those concerns.” She added, in an interview with Politico on Wednesday, that “[Trump] left it alone for months out of respect for me. But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder?”
If Kellyanne Conway hoped her simple statement would end the fight between her boss and her husband, she was badly mistaken. Trump is never one to turn down a fight. After Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted on Tuesday that “we all know that @realDonaldTrump turned down Mr. Kellyanne Conway for a job he desperately wanted…Now he hurts his wife because he is jealous of her success. POTUS doesn’t even know him,” Trump retweeted it and added this piece of commentary: “A total loser!”
Amazingly, Trump’s latest tweet on Wednesday feels like an escalation from where thing have been between he and George Conway. (It’s hard to escalate much from the President of the United States calling someone “a total loser” but Trump managed to do it!)
Read Trump’s tweet above carefully. Here’s what he is alleging, in order of problematic-ness:
1) Kellyanne Conway, working with Trump, kept George Conway from getting a job in the White House – presumably in the Justice Department – that “he so desperately wanted.”
2) George Conway’s animus to Trump is born primarily from jealousy he feels toward his wife for her success
3) George Conway is a “husband from hell.”
Here’s the thing: This is now a totally untenable situation for Kellyanne Conway. (I’d argue it was untenable before but it’s even more untenable now. Untenable on top of untenable! Super duper untenable!)
Kellyanne Conway’s boss, who is the President of the United States, is saying she is married to a “husband from hell” who is jealous of her success. Trump is saying that about a man Kellyanne Conway has been married to for nearly 20 years and with whom she has four children.
This isn’t the James Carville-Mary Matalin scenario that some Trump allies like to compare the Conways to. Matalin and Carville were well-established partisans – on opposite sides of the aisle – before they got married. Their feuding over politics was always good-natured and fun. And there was never a President of the United States in between them.
The Conways were both staunch Republicans and Trump supporters until George broke away in June 2017 over Trump’s proposed travel ban. What we now have is that the President’s leading public advocate and leading public critic live under the same roof and are married to one another.
In August 2018, Kellyanne Conway told The Washington Post’s Ben Terris of her husband, “I feel there’s a part of him that thinks I chose Donald Trump over him. Which is ridiculous. One is my work and one is my marriage.”
Trump’s decision to repeatedly – and publicly – engage with George Conway makes that always-tenuous line between work/home that Kellyanne was trying to draw increasingly meaningless. Increasingly it feels that Kellyanne Conway is running out of time before she’ll have to choose between her boss and her husband. And that’s an unenviable choice to have to make.