Tag Archives: Reince Priebus

Gen. Kelly: in over his head

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?

Another of Trump’s ‘best people’ takes a hike

The hits — no pun intended — keep on coming at the White House.

Rob Porter, the staff secretary to the president of the United States, has resigned. Porter’s departure, though, comes amid allegations that he assaulted his two former wives, one of whom he beat up while the two of them were, um, on their honeymoon.

Porter denies the allegations. White House chief of staff John Kelly originally called him a man of “honor,” then walked back his high praise when the allegations became known. White House press officials said that Kelly became “fully aware” only recently, despite reports that Kelly knew about the allegations months ago.

As for Donald Trump, he supposedly didn’t know, either until just the other day about what the ex-wives have accused Porter of doing to them.

This breakdown in proper vetting represents yet again a serious breakdown in the screening of key White House personnel.

National security adviser Michael Flynn was ousted after lying to the FBI and to Vice President Pence about conversations with Russian election hackers; former chief strategist Stephen Bannon got the boot after he, too, got caught up in the Russia matter; ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus was shoved out because he couldn’t control the White House.

On and on it has gone.

Now it’s Porter, one of the president’s closest aides. Porter, who’s now dating White House communications director Hope Hicks, is supposed to have the highest security clearance possible to do his job, which includes handling hypersensitive documents. He didn’t have one.

Good grief, man!

The president wants to invoke what he calls “extreme vetting” to keep undesirable immigrants from entering the United States of America.

How about some extreme vetting of the people with whom he surrounds himself? He pledged to hire “the best people” to make key decisions and to provide critical advice.

Rob Porter has now been accused of beating his wives. This is how Trump defines “the best people”?

Hey, what about ‘the Russia thing’?

Pssst. I am about to let the cat out of the bag.

Much of the nation — maybe most of it — has been consumed by the tragic events of Charlottesville and the president’s response to it. I get it. Donald Trump first blamed “many sides” for the riot; then he singled out the white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the Klan; and after that he reverted back to his original response.

All ever-lovin’ hell has broken loose. The fecal matter has hit the fan.

But, but, but …

We have this other thing going on. It’s the “Russia thing.” Remember it? Of course you do!

Special counsel Robert Mueller has assembled a crack team of legal eagles who are examining the many aspects of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. There might be an obstruction of justice element; there might be collusion; there might be some financial matters to examine; hey, we might even get to see the president’s tax returns.

As the national media continue to scurry after this Charlottesville story — as they should — Mueller and his team are being left relatively alone to pore through the mountain of evidence and information that keeps piling up.

The last thing I heard — and it seems like eons ago now — was that Mueller wants to speak with former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. There might be subpoenas coming from Mueller’s office.

I just thought it would be useful to remind everyone that as important as the Charlottesville story is — and the media must cover it — we’ve got this other matter lurking out there.

The “Russia thing” needs a resolution. Don’t look for it soon. Just be sure to keep one eye on the special counsel’s exhaustive search for the whole truth.

What about the ‘idiot in chief,’ Gen. Kelly?

The new White House chief of staff is being described as someone who won’t “suffer idiots.”

No surprise there. John Kelly is a retired Marine Corps general. He’s been tested in combat during his 45 years in uniform. He has suffered grievous tragedy with the loss of his son who was killed in action in Afghanistan. Until this week, he led the Department of Homeland Security. Then the president of the United States asked him to take over as White House chief of staff.

Those who know Gen. Kelly say he brooks no foolishness.

That brings us to the fundamental point. The most successful White House chiefs of staff control virtually every word that flows from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. In this age of social media, that should include the Twitter network operated by Donald John Trump.

Is the new chief of staff going to demand from the president that he — as in Kelly — has complete control? Will the chief be able to screen the tweets the president decides to fire off? Will he have veto power over the idiocy that occasionally flies into cyber space?

According to The Washington Post: “He knows how to do this: with common sense and good leadership,” said Kelly’s longtime friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer frank opinions. “He won’t suffer idiots and fools.”

Idiots and fools, eh?

The idiot in chief also is the fool in chief. They are the same man, who was elected president of the United States in a campaign that defied virtually every single bit of conventional wisdom known to politics.

He vowed to become “more presidential” once he took office. Trump has veered precisely into the opposite direction, as he has become less presidential.

It now falls on the new White House chief of staff to rein in The Boss. I’m unsure how Gen. Kelly is going to harness the most ignorant man ever to hold the highest office in the land.

It’s been said that former chief of staff Reince Priebus’s tenure is the shortest in U.S. history. If the new guy doesn’t get some guarantees from the president that he’ll actually get to take charge of the staff, Priebus’s record may be smashed in a matter of days.

It’s you, Mr. President, not your chief of staff

The critiques are pouring in on the White House in the wake of the ouster of Reince Priebus as chief of staff.

Donald John Trump shoved Priebus out the door this week and hired Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as the new chief.

But those critiques seem to be conveying the same message: The White House failure to function as a “fine-tuned machine” — which is how Trump once described his administration — belongs solely to the president, not the chief of staff.

It’s Trump’s tweets. It’s his capriciousness. It’s his ignorance of government and how it works. It’s the presence of unqualified family members in the innermost circle of key advisers. It’s that maniac communications director — Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci — who reports directly to the president.

Because the president doesn’t know how to assemble a competent governing team, his chief of staff has fallen on the proverbial grenade.

His new chief of staff, Kelly, comes from an entirely different mold. He is a career Marine Corps officer; a retired four-star general; a war hero; a Gold Star father who lost a son in combat. He’s a kick-ass military man.

My latest Question of the Day is simply this: Is the president going to let Gen. Kelly run the White House and control the message the way it’s supposed to be done, the way many effective chiefs of staff have done?

I don’t know what John Kelly is doing this weekend as he prepares to assume this new gig, but I would hope he’d be on the phone with some preceding chiefs of staff and asking them for pointers on how he ought to proceed in this atmosphere of chaos and confusion.

The source of that chaos? He sits on the Oval Office.

Kelly vs. Mooch: All bets are off

John Kelly is about to take on the job of his nightmares.

He is the next White House chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus, who was booted out of his job this week by the president of the United States, one Donald John Trump.

The president, moreover, has hired a communications director who is exhibiting the conduct of a madman. Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci went on a profanity-laced tirade and predicted correctly that Priebus would be gone by the end of the week.

Now into this maelstrom comes Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general. He is a no-nonsense general-grade officer. He has served his country heroically and with supreme honor. He moves into the White House from the Department of Homeland Security, where he served as secretary.

It’s the Kelly vs. Mooch situation that ought to cause concern throughout the massive federal government.

Mooch reports to the Donald Trump. Tradition — something for which the president has zero regard — has made the communications director answer to the chief of staff.

Here’s my question: How long will it take Gen. Kelly to slap some sense into Mooch and tell this loudmouth that the chief of staff controls the message?

It’s being said in recent hours and days that no previous president would have put up with the hideous tirade that Mooch launched against Priebus. Mooch called Priebus a “schizophrenic,” adding a colorful f-bomb adjective in front of that term.

Can you imagine someone referring to, say, previous WH chiefs Leon Panetta or James Baker III with that kind of language?

With all of that said, Gen. John Kelly is walking into a White House that is in an utter state of confusion and chaos. It’s a direct reflection of the man who refused to let the previous White House chief of staff do his job.

Moreover, it all reflects directly on the incompetence demonstrated daily by Donald John Trump Sr.

Good luck to you, Gen. Kelly. You will need every bit of it.

Mooch shows us why POTUS hired him

Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci is cast, apparently, in the same mold as the guy who has just hired him.

He’s a loud-mouthed, profane insult machine who happens to serve as communications director for an administration that is seeking desperately to change the subject from pressing matters. You know, things like possible business conflicts of interest and that “Russia thing” aka the investigation into whether Russia meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Mooch has called White House chief of staff Reince Priebus a “f****** schizophrenic, a paranoiac.” Priebus will be gone shortly, according to Mooch.

The die was cast when Trump hired Mooch to become communications chief and then said Mooch would report directly to the president, rather than the chief of staff, which has been the custom for, oh, many decades.

Mooch took that as his cue to trash Priebus, who deserves far better than he’s getting from Mooch or Trump or, frankly, the media that cover the White House. Priebus had to know what he was getting when he accepted the job as chief of staff. The former head of the Republican National Committee has worked with grownups. It’s just that he is now surrounded in the White House by goofballs, thugs, know-nothings and rank political amateurs.

This is part of the Trump modus operandi. He has hired a profane communications chief who parrots the boss — who, in my humble view, is utterly, profoundly and glaringly unfit to be president of the United States of America.

This is what we now have in charge of the executive branch of the federal government.

Do you feel good about it? Neither do I.

New WH comm director sends chilling message

For those of us who navigate through ideological waters to the left of Breitbart News, the word from new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci makes our skin shiver.

Scaramucci praised Brietbart editor Matt Boyle for “capturing the spirit of what is going on in the country.”

Sure thing, Mr. Communications Director. If you’re a right-wing fanatic who hangs on the words spewed by Breitbart, the outfit once run by Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s senior policy adviser who used Breitbart to promote views seen by many Americans as anti-Semitic and anti-minority in its tone.

How might conservatives react if a president would sing the praises of a far left-wing organ? How would GOP watchdogs like to hear a progressive communications director speak well of the work done by The Nation, to cite one example? It would go over like a f**t in a spacesuit.

Scaramucci is setting a frightening tone as he takes over as White House communications chief. He will report directly to the president and not White House chief of staff Reince Priebus; indeed, custom dictates that the chief of staff has oversight on the message coming from the White House.

Not with Scaramucci. He’s getting his marching orders director from the tweeter in chief.

Do you feel better now? I … um … didn’t think so.

Trump seeks to plug leaks … how?

Someone might have to explain this to me.

Donald John Trump reportedly is mad as hell. The White House leaks like a sieve. Someone or some people inside the place might be blabbing to the media about the inner workings of the Trump administration.

So what might the president do to curb the leaks? Why, shoot, he might just fire the press secretary, the White House chief of staff, the president’s legal counsel and his chief political strategist.

That’s the report being discussed by the chattering class in Washington, D.C. Press flack Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus, legal eagle Don McGahn and strategist Stephen Bannon could be out.

What, then, might happen to the leak issue? It could turn into a deluge if the president decides to cut these four guys loose. They would be untethered from the White House and could tattle to their hearts’ content about all they know, what they have seen and heard and who has done what to whom inside the Trump White House.

Look, we’re only 100-and-some days into an administration that hopes to last another three-plus years. The president already is talking about running for re-election and, in fact, has released what looks and sounds like a 2020 campaign commercial.

Each day brings new surprises. Each dawn produces news of a not-so-flattering kind. The president cannot contain his Twitter fetish.

He’s worried about leaks. So his remedy might be to unleash four of his top guns into the public to, um, possibly spill their guts?

This is not how you govern, Mr. President. Really and truly.

Spicer a goner at the White House?

The Washington, D.C., rumor mill is clattering like crazy as the next work week gets set to commence.

It involves White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who might be on his way out after only 100-some days on the job. Reports have surfaced that Donald John Trump might axe Spicer; that he’s angry with him; that the White House’s chief spokesman has been inarticulate and clumsy during his daily press briefings.

I am going to concede that Spicer might have the toughest job in the federal government. I mean, think of it. He has to interpret the musings of the president of the United States who one might say is, well, a bit inarticulate and clumsy himself.

How does the press spokesman expect to be on top of his game when the president is nowhere close to being on top of his game?

Spicer once served as press flack for the Republican National Committee, which was led by Reince Priebus, who’s now the White House chief of staff. Many other reports are circulating, too, that Priebus might be another victim of a Donald Trump purge of senior White House staffers.

This has been a rough intro to government and public policy for a presidential administration led by someone who spent his entire professional life enriching himself. He has zero public service experience, let alone any knowledge of how government works.

Now he might be getting ready to jettison his press spokesman and also — perhaps — his chief of staff.

You know what I sense? I sense a feeling of relief if the axe falls on both men.