Normally, I’m of the “no man’s life, liberty or property is safe when the Legislature is in session” school of thought. Because I think the politicos typically just mess things up for the rest of us — whatever their stated or unstated intentions — I normally don’t mind if Congress is thrashing around and not really doing much of anything.
But when the White House seems to be the scene of constant chaos, it’s a different story. In our modern government, so much power and decision-making has devolved upon the Presidency, particularly in the area of foreign affairs, that the perception of competency, stability, reasoned judgment, and careful analysis in the Oval Office and the West Wing is essential. In short, we want our allies and our enemies alike to believe that the President and his Administration know what they are doing and have developed and are pursuing a coherent policy, and that those allies and enemies should toe the line with that policy or there will be consequences.
That’s why the apparently unending disorder in the Trump White House is disturbing. We’re not even a year into President Trump’s first year in office, and we’ve already seen the departure of his chief of staff and press secretary and now the firing of a communications director who hadn’t even been on the job for two weeks. I’m not arguing that Anthony Scaramucci shouldn’t have been fired — in reality, he seemed to be so completely ill-suited to serve in that position that you wonder how he was hired in the first place. But with the constant uproar, the unnecessary and off-message tweets from the President himself, the many personnel changes, the flood of disabling leaks, and the evident turmoil between and among the President’s most senior advisers, you really wonder whether the important things are getting done — and, more fundamentally, what kind of message is being sent about the United States to the world at large. Does it embolden North Korea and other rogue nation-states to engage in even more adventurous behavior if they think the White House is the scene of bedlam?
So President Trump has turned to a new chief of staff, retired general and former homeland security chief John Kelly, to try to restore some order in the White House, and Kelly’s first act apparently was to show Scaramucci the door. Now he’ll try to establish some order, stop the constant barrage of leaks, ensure consistent messaging, and maybe, just maybe, rein in some of the counterproductive tweeting activity by POTUS, too.
It’s a big job, but you don’t get to be a general in the U.S. Marine Corps without having some significant leadership and managerial skills, so maybe Kelly will be up to the task — if he can stay in the position long enough to actually have an impact. I’m no fan of Trump or his Administration, but for the good of the country let’s hope Kelly can make a difference. The current state of apparent chaos needs to end.