Chief of Staff John F. Kelly was only in his new job a few hours when he moved quickly to impose order on the Cirque du Soleil that is President Trump’s White House. The New York Times broke the news Monday afternoon that Anthony Scaramucci was fired as communications director, a job the profane, f-bomb throwing New Yorker held for a mere 10 days. And it was done at Kelly’s behest. Pity this might be the high-point of what very well might be a troubled tenure.
Every day of last week was a horror show, for the president, the presidency and the country. I took a photo of this handy chart of Trump mayhem that CNN put up on the screen Monday.
I’m no fan of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but the foundation of Trump’s attacks on him are a scary threat to the rule of law. The president’s speech to the Boy Scouts, normally an apolitical jamboree of selflessness and service to others, was so offensive the scouts issued an apology. Trump said he could act nearly as presidential as former president Abraham Lincoln. Thus, lowering the level of his rhetoric to farce. Trump’s Twitter trashing of transgender service members earned pushback from Republicans and the military. The sad and pathetic effort to repeal and replace Obamacare went down in a ball of flames in the wee hours of Friday morning, followed by the firing of Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff that afternoon.
Now, it is up to Kelly, former secretary of homeland security and a retired Marine Corps general, to impose discipline on a building that has been a raging Dumpster fire for 192 days (as of this writing). Getting rid of “The Mooch” was a fantastic way to begin. But here’s the problem. The person flooding oxygen into the inferno Kelly is tasked with bringing under control is the man who hired him.
During the 2000 presidential campaign, expressing national revulsion at President Bill Clinton’s adulterous conduct in office, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush was fond of saying that “America wants somebody to restore honor and dignity to the White House.” Bush would punctuate the pledge by raising his hand, as if taking the oath of office. And he was fond of calling attention to his wife, Laura, by saying, “You know you can judge the nature of a man by the company he keeps.”
The presidential mien of Bush and the honor and dignity displayed during the two terms of former president Barack Obama disappeared the moment Trump put his hand on the Bible on Jan. 20. The president thrives on eye-popping drama, the kind Kelly must bring to an end. For the sake of the enterprise that is the United States and the global stability that depends on it, I wish Kelly luck and a long tenure. Too bad it won’t be.
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