The Times greets its Dead Tree Readers on Saturday morning in a continuation of Meltdown Mode, offering this pairing:
The "Bulldoze" story is billed as "news analysis", so let's check the analysis:
Mr. Trump swept into office promising to dispense with the political correctness of Washington’s establishment, and his choices reflect that. President George W. Bush assembled a Republican cabinet with a variety of shades of conservative ideology, including some members who challenged the president. Mr. Trump’s early decisions suggest he favors a cabinet that will echo his opinions.
Oh, groan. As a minor point, Bush claimed to be a uniter, not a divider, who implicitly promised restoration, nor revolution with a family brand that reeked of establishment.
But more importantly, it is nonsense to compare the early Trump choices with the totality of the Bush (or, if you prefer, Obama) choices. Bush's first choice, since you ask (these "reporters" turned analysts apparently did not) was Colin Powell. After filling a few minor posts, Bush rolled out John Ashcroft to liberal howls.
Trump may well be taking a different route. Any victor faces an immediate question - plant the flag and rally the loyalists, or extend an olive branch and placate the losers? The existence of this tactical question seems to have also escaped these Times "analysts".
Trump may well have concluded that any early concession to the establishment wing of the Republican Party would be viewed as betrayal by his base and weakness by his opponents. That calculation may or may not be correct, but it is certainly plausible and might seem to be worth mentioning. The closest The Times gets in the third-from-last paragraph:
Some analysts said they believed that Friday’s selections were intended to reward loyalty and appeal to Mr. Trump’s base. They held out hope that the next set of selections — for secretary of state and secretary of defense — would go to more moderate figures, much as Mr. Trump balanced out the selection of Stephen K. Bannon at the White House by naming Reince Priebus as chief of staff.
Keep Hope Alive!
By Saturday afternoon the inability of the Times to imagine that Trump might actually be implementing a strategy led to more daft "reporting":
Trump Meets With Romney as He Starts to Look Outside His Inner Circle
BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President-elect Donald J. Trump on Saturday moved to mend fences with political rivals after a divisive campaign, meeting with Mitt Romney, who had scathingly criticized him during the race as “a phony” and “a fraud,” to discuss naming him as secretary of state.
The outreach signaled a change in tone one day after Mr. Trump moved to elevate hard-liners to pivotal national security positions. It was not clear whether Mr. Trump offered the State Department post to Mr. Romney, or whether Mr. Romney, who has broken sharply with him on Russia, free trade and other issues, would accept if he did.
But some strategists argued that merely by reaching out to Mr. Romney, Mr. Trump was demonstrating an openness to new people and ideas, even from the unlikeliest of sources. It may also have been intended to inject the sort of unpredictability and spectacle into the transition process that the president-elect thrives on.
"Signaled a change in tone"? For my money it is a bit early to say that a tone has been set, let alone changed.
BONUS QUESTION: Do we like or loathe the idea of Mitt Romney as SecState? I think Mitt is a very shrewd observer of the world condition with a proven track record of excellent management skills and normally I would be thrilled to see him in a major cabinet post. My caveat - can he and Trump really bury the hatchet and work together? Will Trump attempt to inflict a series of humiliations on Romney (I am thinking of the Christie hostage video) which prompt him to resign, which would be disturbingly destabilizing?
Since you ask, if Putin is on the other side I would much rather have Romney in the room with him than Trump. As for Obama and Putin? Please - the former KGB chief must have needed all the resources of his intelligence background to even figure out what a community organizer does.
McCain had a background and temperament that could let him face off with Putin. Bush 43? C'mon. Bush 41, absolutely. Hillary? Better than Obama. Hmm, this is kind of fun - I might actually pick Hillary over Bush 43. Is it fair to put James Baker, a former SecState, in the mix? Baker, Shultz, Reagan - send 'em in! Bill Clinton ought to be ranked somewhere, as should Al Gore and John Kerry, I suppose. And don't go to sleep on Kerry - as a tactical ploy, boring Putin to death might pay off.