High Net Worth Divorce
Kellyanne Conway, spokesperson for and counselor to President Trump, and George Conway, a publicly anti-Trump activist, have been married since 2001, and are frequently the couple people point to as proof that “opposites attract.” Kellyanne was a part of Trump’s campaign team in 2016 and has worked in his White House, publicly defending him and his views ever since. George has made his aversion to Trump so clear that, even though he is a Republican and has been for years, he has begun promoting and donating to Joe Biden’s election campaign. The issue about which the Conways disagree – Trump – feels so large at this point in history, that it seems like it must be a relationship-killer. And yet, nineteen years and four children later, here they stand. How do they do it? How do couples with seemingly opposite political views keep peace in the home?
It has become popular these days to categorize people as pro-Trump or anti-Trump. Many assumptions are made about a person based on this designation. But a person’s stance on the Trump presidency really tells you only one thing: that person’s stance on the Trump presidency. There are a wide range of reasons that people support him, and a wide range of reasons that people oppose him. Knowing that Kellyanne Conway supports Trump tells us only that much. Knowing that George Conway opposes Trump tells us equally little. It is the reasons behind their public statements that show us why Kellyanne and George, seemingly so incompatible, can stay together, and thrive, through this presidency. The Conways have a great deal in common.
The Conways met in 1999 through a mutual friend, and prominent right-wing personality and author, Ann Coulter. When they met, Kellyanne and George were both attorneys. Both had clerked for judges who were appointed by President Ronald Reagan. George was a prominent litigator in a Manhattan law firm. Kellyanne was running a successful polling company she had founded in 1995, focusing primarily on products and policies marketed towards women. During the 1990s, she and other young conservative women, such as Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, were credited with the creation of modern punditry – appearing on cable television and political talk shows to become “stars” of the conservative movement. George asked Ann Coulter to introduce him to Kellyanne after seeing an article about her in a magazine.
After marrying in 2001, the Conways moved into Trump World Tower in Manhattan, where, through her role on the building’s condo board, Kellyanne met Mr. Trump. In 2005, the Conways started a blog for the National Review called “Reconcilable Differences: Two Conways, Two Takes,” in which they offered opposing views on then-President George W. Bush, and other political issues. Both Kellyanne and George identified as conservative Republicans, and their social circles and careers reflected it.
Kellyanne went on to work for a series of conservative politicians such as Newt Gingrich, Mike Pence, and Ted Cruz, and performed polling work for Trump in 2013 when he was considering a run for the office of governor in New York. She officially joined the Trump presidential campaign in 2016, after Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. When Trump was elected, Kellyanne was hired to work in the White House and was named White House counselor. George Conway – having spent the past several decades as a successful litigator, representing Paula Jones in her lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, and arguing cases in the U.S. Supreme Court – was on a shortlist to become Trump’s solicitor general, and was also considered to lead the civil division of the Department of Justice. In turning this opportunity down, George penned a note to Mr. Trump in which he expressed his support for the Trump administration and his hope that he could be of service to the president in some other way.
A review of George Conway’s public statements indicate that he remained loyal to the Trump administration until around June of 2017. He tweeted a negative assessment of a Trump policy on June 5, 2017 – his first public comment against the president. The Conways continued to attend official White House functions together. In the summer of 2018, when Trump began to publicly attack the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, George Conway published an op-ed defending the investigation.
George’s twitter following increased by tens of thousands after his decision to attack the president, and his public statements have grown more incendiary and combative ever since. He has tweeted pages of the DSM-5, deriding the president’s mental health, and has regularly questioned Trump’s intelligence. Kellyanne has expressed public displeasure with his decision to do this, but it is unclear how much of this is coordinated. Considering Kellyanne’s career history and success in the arena of political punditry, it does not feel outlandish to suggest that this has been planned. In the early days of George’s rising stardom in the anti-Trump movement, the couple even sat for joint interviews on the topic. In an interview with the Washington Post in 2018, Kellyanne allegedly made a negative statement about George’s behavior toward the president, indicating she felt it was disrespectful of their marital vows, but then asked the reporter to attribute the statement to someone else – a clear attempt to shape the story so that it was delivered to the public in a way she approved of.
Now at over a million twitter followers and with a regular op-ed in the Washington Post, George Conway has become known as the anti-Trump Republican. The recent entry of the Conways’ eldest daughter into this twitter war further supports the assessment that this is a family affair. The Conways have – purposely or not – made their family a microcosm of the current divisions within the Republican party, placing themselves at the center of the debate, and ensuring their place on the pundit roster for news-cycles to come.
After examining their history together, it appears that the Conways do not represent that old adage “opposites attract.” Instead, they represent a modern version of a much older and enduring type of marriage – the marriage of convenience.
The term “marriage of convenience” carries a lot of historical baggage, but, generally, the term indicates a union that exists for political, financial, or personal gain. Such a marriage implies stability, practicality, and partnership, but is also negatively associated with a love-less, sex-less relationship. If longevity is what you want, however, love and sex will only get you so far. A couple with a shared goal – even one as unromantic as wealth and fame – may, in fact, be more likely to stay together than two people who are madly in love but want completely different things out of life. We can’t know how Kellyanne and George Conway actually feel toward one another, but we can observe their behavior over time and draw some conclusions.
Though it seems larger than life at the moment, we must remember that the Trump news cycle will eventually come to an end, and so will the societal feud over the president and his administration. The Conways have been a part of the public political discourse for decades, and for the vast majority of that time, they have appeared politically aligned. An examination of their history together indicates that, when the dust settles on this battle, George and Kellyanne Conway will move forward as a team and will find some new way to remain in the public eye.
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