Almost a decade after he shaved her husband’s head at WrestleMania, he names her to a cabinet post. When Donald Trump promised no more politics as usual, he wasn’t kidding.
Early on when Trump became a presidential candidate, I had joked pro wrestling mogul Linda McMahon would be his running mate. Not quite. But U.S. Small Business Administration administrator is not a bad gig. Trump will also make it a cabinet level position.
Linda and her husband, Vince McMahon, own World Wrestling Entertainment and built the once-regional family promotion into a powerhouse corporation. Republicans in Connecticut might be glad Trump moved her to Washington to keep her from running for office again, after she lost Senate races in 2010 and 2012. But, interestingly, her opponent in the 2012 race, Sen. Chris Murphy, said Thursday “She’s unquestionably qualified.”
Trump said in his announcement that McMahon will carry out his agenda of rebuilding the economy.
“To help push our agenda forward, I am pleased to nominate Linda McMahon as the head of the Small Business Administration,” Trump said. “Linda has a tremendous background and is widely recognized as one of the country’s top female executives advising businesses around the globe. She helped grow WWE from a modest 13-person operation to a publicly-traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide. Linda is going to be a phenomenal leader and champion for small businesses and unleash America’s entrepreneurial spirit all across the country.”
“Champion” was an interesting word choice. Not sure if that 13 or 800 includes the wrestlers or just the front office. No matter.
Trump’s association with the wrestling business goes back to 1988 and 1989, when WrestleMania was held in the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City for two consecutive years. In 2007, Trump was part of WrestleMania 23, in the “Battle of the Billionaires” hair vs. hair match. That was significant since both Trump and Vince McMahon have really big hair. Those two didn’t actually wrestle, but were represented by two actual wrestlers (or sports entertainers, whatever your preferred term). Eventually, in 2013, Trump was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and three years later won a slightly higher honor.
Watching some of the old Trump WWE videos is actually instructive. He learned somewhere how to play to big crowds. He learned somewhere how to trash talk. His verbal lashings of Vince, all part of the show, of course, remind you of what he said to Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and other vanquished opponents. Or, he may have already known how to shout insults, and wrestling was just a natural fit.
As many observed after Jesse “The Body” Ventura—an actual wrestler who managed to get elected governor of Minnesota—pro wrestling and politics have quite a bit in common.
Politics has Republicans and Democrats, both thinking they’re good guys. Wrestling has heels (bad guys) and faces (good guys). Being able to perform well at the microphone is much more important at both than any actual skill for either. Unlike WWE matches, elections don’t have pre-arranged outcomes (as was way evident this year), but politics, like wrestling, is fake on many levels.
As for McMahon, she’s not without government experience, having served on the Connecticut state Board of Education. She also had a mild statement about her appointment.
“Our small businesses are the largest source of job creation in our country,” McMahon said. “I am honored to join the incredibly impressive economic team that President-elect Trump has assembled to ensure that we promote our country’s small businesses and help them grow and thrive.”
But this could also be seen as yet another example of Trump body-slamming politics as we know it.
Fred Lucas is a columnist for Political Storm and the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. He is the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections” (Stairway Press, 2016).