Friday, August 4, 2017

John Kelly Takes Over the White House

In reading the New York Times report on new chief of staff John Kelly’s efforts to impose order and discipline on the Trump White House you get the sense that the Times reporters, led by Glenn Thrush, would like to see him succeed.

The Times reports on the Kelly management style. For those who care to learn how to manage, the information might (or might not) be useful:

In his six months as Homeland Security secretary, John F. Kelly often described the White House as one of the most dysfunctional organizations he had ever seen, complained to colleagues and allies about its meddling, incompetence and recklessness, and was once so angry he briefly considered quitting.

Now as President Trump’s chief of staff, he is doing something about it — with a suddenness and force that have upended the West Wing.

Mr. Kelly cuts off rambling advisers midsentence. He listens in on conversations between cabinet secretaries and the president. He has booted lingering staff members out of high-level meetings, and ordered the doors of the Oval Office closed to discourage strays. He fired Anthony Scaramucci, the bombastic New Yorker who was briefly the communications director, and has demanded that even Mr. Trump’s family, including his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, check with him if they want face time with the president.

Since Kelly has only been on the job for a week, it is obviously too early to know whether he will succeed. As for his task, reports have it that he will manage the staff, not the president himself. One will be interested to see whether a well-managed, disciplined staff will produce a similar effect on a president whose administration is flailing:

Mr. Kelly, 67, has told his new employees that he was hired to manage the staff, not the president. He will not try to change Mr. Trump’s Twitter or TV-watching habits. But he has also said he wants to closely monitor the information the president consumes, quickly counter dubious news stories with verified facts, and limit the posse of people urging Mr. Trump to tweet something they feel passionately about.

And then there is the man himself, especially his demeanor and comportment. As you know, such qualities are especially valued in the military. It is better to show proper decorum and encourage others to emulate it than to try to force it on your team when you cannot manifest it yourself. One remarks, purely in passing, that we should compare Kelly’s bearing to that of the women (discussed in yesterday's post) who tried and often failed to assume leadership roles… in law firms and in financial service firms.

The Times describes Kelly’s commanding presence:

The Trump White House is a judge-a-book-by-its-cover workplace, and staff members have been struck by Mr. Kelly’s bearing: tall, stern and commanding a respect Mr. Priebus never did. People close to Mr. Kelly said they expected him to methodically assess his new staff before making more drastic changes — and he has told people that he wants to improve morale before attacking the organizational chart.

Of course, Kelly’s greatest challenge will be: managing up. That is, managing his boss. Will Kelly’s example cause Trump to try to be a more commanding presence himself? Will it make him more judicious and more decorous? How many of his administration’s problems would be solved by Trump being more like John Kelly? 

Even in the matter of policy the administration has been anything but coherent. CIA Director Pompeo says that administration policy in North Korea is regime change. The Secretary of State Tillerson says that the policy is not regime change but negotiation. Vice president Pence then says that the policy is not negotiation. Your head is spinning. Without proper direction from the top, too many senior administration officials have been freelancing.

At the least, we know that Hillary Clinton never had a commanding presence. Come to think of it, how many recent presidents really had that quality.


Katielee4211 said...

In my opinion, Trump himself is the center of chaos. He's squelching his own potential and exhausting supporters who are called to defend him.

Good Luck, Kelly. May the force be with you. All of it - you'll need it.

Sam L. said...

It's a good start. May it long continue.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Listen up, y'all here...

A lot of people think Trump has blundered his way into a fiasco. He may have blundered. But I disagree that it's a fiasco.

I won't say for certain that he's blundered (because I don't know), but I know the reality of our politics means it isn't entirely a fiasco. Far from it.

Trump has thus far exposed Republican politicians, and the Republican voters will not forget. The McCain vote on ObamaCare was despicable, on its face. And it is a symbol they will not forget. Who? Umm... who the hell do you think votes in Republican primaries? The Koch's? Hah! The Republican base -- the quantitative Republican base (read: the numbers) -- know the advantages of Trump, and they're certainly not susceptible to the Kristin/Will/Hayes/Williamson way of thinking. Not for a moment. Paul Ryan has showed himself as a blatantly failed politician, Foxconn aside (which is pork). Paul Ryan best stay home... and trust me, he will.

After this do-nothing Congressional recess, I believe Trump will begin exposing Democrats. The Democrats are so divided, so fractured -- and so incensed -- that they will run lunatic Left candidates to express their anger. Conversely, I suspect Trump's Republican base will nominate "normal" people in contested districts -- those who are not too right-wing, but certainly don't reflect Tom Donahue's UNited States Chamber of Commerce's heretofore ubiquitous worldview. John Kasich will say "We have to come together." Obama will scold "That's not who we are." It's like comedy. Love it.the more they squawk... that's the barometer of winning.

Cont'd below...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

There's a lot of squawking going on. A lot.

Trump has definitely covered his right flank, while playing to the obvious (and completely ignored) white collar labor vote. Democrats have total contempt for this demographic, and have continued along that path.

Let's remember that the upper-20% all think diversity is swell, but blue collar workers are the ones dealing with the very real economic and demographic disruption in their neighborhoods and schools as middle class, blue collar economic power descends. Saying this demographic's electoral response is "racist" is plainly as ignorant as the racist slogans the morally magnificent imagine being uttered at sub-desirable kitchen tables. This sort of minority pandering is plainly disgusting, but is inflicted by a supposedly "educated" class. Curious. I suggest it is at a point at that we ask: What are such people being educated in?

Trump's is a brilliant strategy, and few can see it because (a) the media are completely apoplectic, (b) the Washington, D.C. interests are freaked out, and (c) Trump's proposals WILL create growth for "normal" people who don't want to be bothered. This incessant media parade is going to fail -- we can only take so much of weirdos who can't figure out what gender they are, same-sex people who want to "marry," indigent peoples who don't like their native land anymore, etc. This isn't racism, or intolerance, or hate, this is chaos driven by ignorant, elitist public policy.

These FELLOW AMERICAN CITIZENS are people who have to live in a #%&$ing neighborhood and make sense of their lives amidst Federal dictates about what's Section 8 housing and what's not. I hear there are a lot of Obama holdovers in the departments, and their replacement is slow... while championing Obama's Leftist directives. Indeed.

Keep this utopian social engineering coming. The voters of 2018 will be swift and vicious. Now they have a reason AND a voice. Scary.

I don't believe any of this polling, and certainly not its ability to foresee a 2018 Comgressional election when they were sooooooo far gone on 2016. They have no idea what the data say. Keep in mind... the most telling polling question of the 2016 election was: "Who is your neighbor voting for?"

Consider the implications. So delicious. Fear not, friends.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

And never, never, never forget: Hillary Rodham Clinton was the other choice.

Ares Olympus said...

NYT: But he has also said he wants to closely monitor the information the president consumes, quickly counter dubious news stories with verified facts, and limit the posse of people urging Mr. Trump to tweet something they feel passionately about.

If Kelly's managing-up accomplishes nothing but this, he's a winner in my book.

If Trump can stay in office nearly 7 months now on chaos, think what he could do if he actually started applying himself. And while we're cutting taxes on the rich, maybe we can reduce the cap for mortgage interest deductions. This is the time to do it, while interest rates are still low. And doubling the standard deduction is a good idea too, although it'll mean more people will not pay any taxes at all.

Sam L. said...

I keep saying, Trump is a walking, talking flash-bang grenade thrower, who gets the media all riled up and distracted by those flash-bangs. While they're distracted, he gets stuff done.