It pains me to say this, but here goes.
John Kelly is in over his head as White House chief of staff. However, it’s not entirely his fault. I have concluded that Kelly should resign and try to the best of his ability to salvage his reputation.
Kelly took over as chief of staff after Reince Priebus was shoved out the door. The thought — which I shared at the time — was that the retired Marine Corps general would whip the staff into shape. He would make ’em toe the line. He would bark orders and they would follow.
Here, though, is where that theory broke down: Two issues make it impossible for that to happen. The chief of staff needs political skill; Kelly’s Marine Corps training didn’t provide it. What’s more, the president of the United States also needs political skill; Donald Trump’s history as a self-aggrandizing business mogul and reality TV celebrity damn sure didn’t give him that skill, either.
Kelly has now been caught in a vise. Rob Porter quit as staff secretary in the White House after revelations that he beat up his former wives and a former girlfriend. He didn’t have the proper security clearance because the FBI was examining complaints against him that surfaced months ago. Yet he was hired anyway. Kelly knew all that and let it ride.
Kelly reportedly kept it secret from the president. That’s another no-no.
The conventional wisdom all along has been that the 45th president presents a unique set of circumstances that no one has seen before. He possesses zero political expertise. Yes, he waged a successful presidential campaign, of which he is more than happy to keep reminding us. But campaigning and governing are entirely different disciplines. Trump was a stellar campaigner but there is no one within his inner circle who can tell this individual the hard truth about the political implications of the decisions he makes.
Thus, the president is left to function on his own in an environment with which he has no previous exposure.
Gen. Kelly was supposed to provide him some cover. He hasn’t done it. He won’t be able to do it for as long as he occupies the chief of staff’s office.
The Rob Porter mess is only getting messier. John Kelly appears incapable of cleaning it up. The White House message machine is confused and chaotic.
Moreover, the White House communications director, Hope Hicks, has become a key player in that melodrama. Hicks is dating Porter. Yet she helped draft the statement that declared how her boyfriend is such an honorable man? Who in the world allowed her to put her hands on that statement? None other than John Kelly, who should have recognized immediately the conflict of interest that Hicks presented.
Gen. Kelly has served this country with high honor and distinction — as a decorated Marine! Hardly any of that background transfers to the White House chief of staff job.
The question now becomes, in the event Gen. Kelly calls it quits: Who in the world is Donald John Trump able to find who can perform the duties required of a White House chief of staff?
For that matter, who in the world would want that job, given the idiocy that emanates from the Oval Office?