Good Monday morning, and happy Eclipse Day (1-3 p.m. ET), which turns out to be a harmonic convergence with President Trump's first prime-time address to the nation (9 p.m.), on his 214th day in office.
Situational awareness: Vessels from several nations are searching for 10 U.S. missing sailors, as the USS John S. McCain docked in Singapore with "significant damage" to its hull after an early-morning collision with an oil tanker, per AP. It was the second accident for the Navy's 7th fleet in the Pacific in two months. Once again, damage flooded crew berths and machinery.
Donald Trump is a Jekyll and Hyde president: He pops off wildly about everything from war to walls, threatening the unthinkable. But then he acts fairly conventionally when it comes to the actual policy.
This phenomenon will be on display at 9 tonight when Trump addresses the nation on Afghanistan for half an hour from Fort Meyer in Arlington, Va., with soldiers in his live audience.
A month ago, Steve Bannon and friends thought they were winning their argument for a drawdown, rather than the increase advocated by SecDef Jim Mattis — with Bannonites contending that Americans in general, and Trump country in particular, didn't want to pour more America lives into an unwinnable fight.
Now, Trump has settled on a plan that's perfectly satisfactory to the War Cabinet that met with him Friday at Camp David. And we're told the intelligentsia will generally like the plan.
The plan will have the U.S. not winning, but not losing.
The N.Y. Times reports in its lead story that Trump's strategy "is likely to open the door to the deployment of several thousand troops."
Jonathan Swan's bottom line: "Trump has been reluctantly open to the generals' opinion, and I'm told he doesn't want to be the president who loses the country to the terrorists."
Let us count the ways we've seen this movie before:
This tendency by Trump, more than anything, is what drove Bannon nuts — and will drive Breitbart's assault on the "globalists," as Bannonites sneeringly call the officials responsible for the more conventional policy actions.
P.S. Josh Rogin on the WashPost opinion page: "Bannon had been busily operationalizing his plan to win the economic war with China. ... The Kushner-Kissinger view holds that the U.S.-China relationship is too complex and important to risk throwing into disarray. They advocate cooperation over confrontation."
The coming war between Steve Bannon and the "globalists" inside the White House promises to be a public spectacle, and a continuing distraction for the Trump administration. But it's Bannon vs. the Murdoch sons that could really define conservativism — or at least conservative media — far beyond the Trump era.
What to watch for:
P.S. From a great N.Y. Times tick-tock (Jeremy Peters and Maggie Haberman) on Bannon's final days:
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to bring together more than 30 heads of state and 100 CEOs in New York on Sept. 20, in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly, as part of a plan to move into the elite space once held by the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.
The thinking behind Bloomberg Philanthropies' Global Business Forum is that UNGA week in New York puts more powerful people in one spot than any other single event on earth.
Former President Bill Clinton, who has said he wants other organizations to join him in the CGI mission, will speak at Bloomberg Philanthropies' Global Business Forum in an unofficial handoff.
Axios will be an official media partner (along with Quartz), so we can bring you exclusive insights:
Amy Harder's thought bubble in her great new "Harder Line" energy column:
"Republicans are the bigger sinners in this debate because most of them refuse to acknowledge that climate change and humans' role driving it is a real thing, as I wrote in my column last week. The left faces an inherently different and trickier problem than the right's rejection of the science: Their tactics and messaging are hobbling their push to address climate change."
A Wall Street Journal front-pager has worthy new nuggets on the rupture between Trump and business:
The perfect story for our time ... the WashPost on how to use your smartphone to photograph the eclipse:
Astrophotographers — the professionals and enthusiasts with their giant cameras hooked up to telescopes — will probably tell us it's a fools errand to attempt to get a high-quality photo with anything less than a thousand dollars' worth of equipment. But it is possible to get a decent and memorable photo with whatever you have in your back pocket — iPhone, Android or otherwise.
Be smart: "Just don't let the desire to get that perfect Instagram shot distract you from the once-in-a-lifetime event itself."
Lots of great feedback to CEO Jim VandeHei's post on The Axios Way — some lessons learned starting two media companies. There were requests for him to expand it to cover tricks/techniques that apply to all organizations, not just media startups.
I did a quick Summer 6 edition of AM this morning so you'd have time to soak in these points, which are useful for any organization, tiny or giant, that you lead or serve.
Why it matters: Thanks to the explosion of technology and social media in particular, every industry — and most jobs — are changing faster than ever. This requires a new set of strategies to thrive in this era of transparency, distraction and disruption.
1. Market manically. For all the whining about technology, you can reach more people, more frequently, with more precision than at any point in humanity.
2. Think of your brand as a political candidate. You need to be hyper-aware of how you're seen by your core constituencies (employees and customers) and by the broader public.
3. Over-communicate. In our short-attention-span world, full of cluttered and distracted minds, every leader and manager needs to explain what they're doing and why they're doing it every week, if not every day.
4. Speak like a human. What the hell is the difference between "mission" and "values"? Who the hell really cares? What all employees — millennials in particular — want to know is what you're doing and why you're doing it. So just say it that way. (We're in the process of doing just this, and it's been very clarifying).
5. Force-multiply. It's not just that hiring someone better than you makes you better. It encourages that person to do the same. Soon, you have a talent factory. But many leaders/managers are too insecure to hire others who might outshine them. So they hire middling talent, trained to do the same. Soon you have the hot mess of mediocrity with no easy fix.
6. The tech wolf is at your door. Your job, your company and your industry face imminent threat from new technologies or robots. This threat will worsen.
7. Heed red flags. Bad values are cancer, and it spreads. We look for killer talent with humility, and never compromise on either half.