Tag Archives: White House chief of staff

Now the acting homeland security boss hits the road

Surely I am not the only American who has this nagging sense that the Donald Trump administration is continuing to unravel, that it is a ship without a rudder, that the “fine-tuned machine” needs a serious overhaul.

Perhaps it should come at the very top of the chain of command.

The acting homeland security secretary, Kevin McAleenan, is calling it quits. Think of this for a moment: At the time when the president wants to crack down on illegal border crossings, trying to secure the “homeland” against evil doers intent on harming us, the guy charged with running the department is bailing.

Sure, the president said some nice things about McAleenan, who inherited the “acting” gig upon the (forced) resignation of Kirsteijn Nielsen. Then again, he often does even when he doesn’t mean it. McAleenan reportedly had been clashing with other senior Trump administration officials, perhaps even with the president himself, over policy matters.

So now the latest acting Cabinet secretary is hitting the road.

There are damn near too many acting secretaries and senior agency heads to count. We do have an acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who’s basically taken a powder while the president struggles against the rising tide of evidence that is likely to lead to his impeachment.

But what the heck. Trump has said he likes having all these acting secretaries and senior agency bosses. It gives him “flexibility” in enacting policy pronouncements that pour forth from his Twitter account.

Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

So now the individual charged with protecting our “homeland” is gone. Who’s next, and when will that fine-tuned machine start functioning as one?

I don’t know the answer to the first part of the question. The second part? The executive branch of government will right itself when we get a new president of the United States.

Actually, Mr. Acting WH CoS, it is a big deal

The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, went on the record this morning by declaring that the kerfuffle over the USS John McCain is “much ado about nothing.”

It’s not a big deal, he told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd.

OK, actually it is a big deal, sir. It’s not the stuff of political cataclysms. But it’s a big enough deal for the Pentagon to implore the White House to stop politicizing the military.

You know the story. Donald Trump traveled to Japan for a state visit. The U.S. Navy, it has been confirmed, issued an order to hide the name of a U.S. destroyer, the USS John McCain, from the president’s view. Trump and the late senator from Arizona, Republican John McCain, were political adversaries. They had said some nasty things about each other. Trump once denigrated McCain’s heroic service as a Vietnam War prisoner by saying he was a hero “only because he was captured.”

The idea that the Navy — where McCain served with distinction until he entered politics in the early 1980s — would be used as a cudgel to beat on the namesake of a warship is an act of cheap politics. It has no place in the military.

The White House has said that Trump played no role in the shielding of the name. The president has said he “wouldn’t do that.” I’ll accept the denials of direct presidential involvement.

However, the matter is a big deal insofar as it dragged the military into a political dispute.

Once more, with extreme vigor: The men and women who serve in all branches of the military do not act as tools in political struggles; they take an oath to protect the rest of us from foreign adversaries.

Thus, the political directive that drags the military into the midst of a domestic dispute is a big deal.

Just wondering: Who’s running the OMB?

I cannot stop thinking about the fellow who is serving as acting chief of staff at the White House.

Mick Mulvaney waltzed into the West Wing to take over as chief of staff after John Kelly was either (a) fired, (b) asked to quit or (c) resigned in a huff because he couldn’t control anything.

Donald Trump said Mulvaney would become “acting” chief of staff, which is strange on its face. Normally presidents wouldn’t have any difficulty finding a permanent COS. Mulvaney, though, already has a full-time job as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The OMB gig is a huge undertaking as it is.

Now he is running the White House per the president’s instruction.

Who, though, is running the OMB? Who is putting a pencil to the staggering deficit that is growing ominously, even though the president promised to bring the budget into balance — albeit over a serious length of time.

Does this mean, therefore, that we no longer have a permanent WH chief of staff and a director of the Office and Management and Budget? I keep wondering about who is minding the OMB store while the boss is at the White House trying to make sense of the chaos inside the West Wing.

New WH chief of staff seeks to preserve his own sanity

I am going to hand it to Mick Mulvaney, the new “acting” White House chief of staff.

Whereas John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps four-star general, sought to bring a military-style discipline to the White House, Mulvaney isn’t even going to try that approach.

Politico reports that Mulvaney is going to let “Trump be Trump.”

There you go. Let Donald Trump run the White House the way he sees fit and hope against hope that it works out. Spoiler alert: It likely won’t.

However, Mulvaney — who once called Trump a “terrible human being” — will be able to maintain more than a semblance of his own sanity if he allows the president a relatively free rein in the West Wing of the White House.

Politico reports: Mulvaney will adopt a much larger role in politics and messaging, and plans to take a more laissez faire approach to some quirks of the Trump White House that irked Kelly — like non-essential staffers attending meetings, or the president frequently reaching out to longtime friends, Republican lawmakers and advisers for advice or dinners in the White House residence.

Is it a surprise, then, that Trump and Kelly have been barely speaking? Of course not.

I’m not sure what to make of the Mulvaney Doctrine in running the White House staff, except to believe that he’s basically going to cede day-to-day management to the Big Man himself.

I am wondering now whether Mulvaney is going to lobby the president for a permanent appointment in the White House. He now is ostensibly the head of the Office of Management and Budget. I presume he’ll hand OMB duties to someone else while he shows up for work in the White House.

Under normal circumstances, I would wish Mulvaney well as he embarks on a new challenge. These are far from normal times in the White House. The president is feeling the heat of multiple investigations bearing down on him. The White House staff reportedly is down in the dumps over the uncertainty and chaos.

I suppose the best I can hope for is that Mulvaney’s strategy at sanity preservation works for him.

Who in the world would want this job?

John Kelly is out as White House chief of staff. He apparently has been forced out, making him the second individual to lose that post involuntarily during the Donald Trump administration.

Reince Priebus was the first chief of staff to get the boot from Trump.

This all begs the question: If you’re watching these developments up close and you are on some sort of presidential short list for chief of staff, would you want the job?

If it were me, I would head for the hills, hide in the tall grass, plunge into a cave. I wouldn’t want the president to know where to find me.

Office and Management Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is the current acting chief of staff, which in itself is a bizarre development. Trump is looking for a permanent chief. Where he’ll find it is a mystery to most, perhaps even to the president himself.

I had high hopes for John Kelly. He’s a retired Marine Corps general, a Gold Star dad whose son died in action in Afghanistan. He was Homeland Security secretary when he got the call to run the White House staff after Trump fired Priebus. Kelly is a take-charge guy. I had hope he would calm the White House chaos.

He didn’t do it, but it’s not entirely his fault. He works for a guy — Donald Trump — who cannot be managed. The president has no understanding of the limitations of his office and so he tries to do things that are impossible. He relies on his “gut” more than he relies on “other people’s brains.”

The president’s gut is betraying him — and the country — every single day.

I have no clue how he’s going to find a chief of staff who is willing to tolerate the idiocy that flows out of the Oval Office. Reince Priebus couldn’t hit his rear end with both hands; Gen. Kelly brought a much greater level of competence to the job, but he couldn’t work with a president who is wired the way Donald Trump is wired.

Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, bailed on Trump. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did, too.

It well might be that it won’t matter one damn bit who Trump selects as chief of staff. He tells us he is the smartest man on Earth. I am partly of a mind to let this bozo try to prove it.

An ‘acting’ WH chief of staff? Really, Mr. POTUS?

Welcome to the federal government’s executive branch loony bin, Mick Mulvaney.

Donald Trump has just named the current director of the Office of Management and Budget as the “acting” White House chief of staff. Mulvaney ostensibly will serve as the White House ringmaster until the president can find a permanent chief of staff to succeed John Kelly, who’s leaving the post at the end of the month.

This is a seriously bizarre move on the president’s part.

The White House chief of staff is supposed to seize the reins of the executive staff of the president. The chief, according to those who know these things, is the president’s alter ego. He or she is supposed to know the president’s every move. He or she is supposed to have the president’s full backing. The president is supposed to simply let the chief of staff handle matters that the Big Man doesn’t have time to handle.

Mulvaney already has a full time job at OMB, which is a big enough job as it is. Now he gets to spend part of his time pretending to be the White House chief of staff working at the pleasure of a president who — as we’ve seen many times already — has this incurable penchant for second-guessing the chief at every turn.

How in the world is Mulvaney going to bring a semblance of stability to a White House that is operating in full chaos mode?

The executive branch of government becomes the product of the man elected to lead that arm of government. Americans have elected someone in the person of Donald Trump who has zero understanding of how government is supposed to work. He doesn’t know a thing about public service and has no inclination to learn anything about it.

Good luck, Mick Mulvaney. You are going to need every bit of it you can find.

White House chief of staff: no longer best job in the world

There once was a time when the White House chief of staff was considered the best job in Washington, D.C. The chief was closest to the president. The chief ran a staff of individuals who helped formulate public policy. It was a dream job.

Now it’s a nightmare post. Donald Trump has just pushed his second chief of staff in less than two years out the door. John Kelly is leaving at the end of the month. He couldn’t control the president. He couldn’t manage the staff. He couldn’t do what Trump promised he would do after he fired the first chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

The heir apparent, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, was thought to be a shoo-in for the White House chief job. Then he backed out. He doesn’t want the post and, I’ll presume, the intense aggravation that goes with it. He wants to move back to Georgia with his young family.

What has the president done to this formerly plum political post? He has wrecked it. He wrecks the reputation of those occupy that post. He continues to govern by the seat of his britches. The man is clueless, yet he wants to manage the White House staff all by himself, while he continues to “make America great again.”

So very sad. And weird. And bizarre.

Don’t stop tweeting, Mr. POTUS

I’ve turned the corner. I used to wish Donald Trump wouldn’t tweet so much; now I want him to keep it up.

Why? Because his Twitter tirades provide such a trove of grist that highlights his utter hypocrisy, duplicity . . . not to mention his idiocy.

This has just surfaced. In 2012, he fired off a tweet criticizing then-President Barack Obama for “burning through” three White House chiefs of staff in three years. Oh, but hold on! Trump just announced the departure of his second chief of staff in less than two years, and he’s about to bring aboard his third chief of staff in, oh, the same amount of time — a year less than Obama did!

See how it goes? Trump says these things, either via his big mouth or via his Twitter account. Then he demonstrates a propensity for doing the same thing, only more of it.

Obama’s golf outings? Trump said he wouldn’t “have time” to break away from his plans to “make America great again” to play golf. Well now. He’s lapped the presidential field several times in the number of golf outings.

Sounding more “presidential”? Hasn’t happened. His tweets show us a continuing pattern of juvenile petulance.

Now we find the chief of staff matter.

Ain’t it just grand? Keep it up, Mr. President. You keep digging yourself deeper into that proverbial hole.

The Twitter universe has gone bonkers. Take a look.

Trump asks Kelly to stay as chief; we’ll see how it plays out

Donald J. Trump has asked John Kelly to stay on as White House chief of staff.

Kelly has agreed — reportedly — to remain at his post at least through the 2020 election.

This leaves me with decidedly mixed feelings. First of all, I admire Kelly at many levels. He is a former Marine Corps general. He’s a combat veteran, and a Gold Star father who lost his son in combat in Afghanistan. He is a no-nonsense guy who took over a White House post in serious disarray in the summer of 2017.

Kelly answers to a guy who is as unfit for the office of president as anyone can possibly be. Trump continues to baffle and befuddle his key aides, advisers and staffers. His Twitter tirades catch everyone by surprise. That includes Kelly.

I am having difficulty, thus, believing that Kelly will last through the 2020 election.

Can the chief stay the course?

We’ve all seen the video of Kelly reacting to the president’s berating German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the recent NATO meeting over her country’s natural gas deal with Russia; Trump said Germany is under Russia’s “total control,” causing Kelly to appear to look away in disgust at what Trump was saying.

It forces me to wonder: How many more times can Kelly endure this kind of idiocy pouring out of the president’s mouth?

The White House chief of staff job is stressful enough as it is. The job in the Donald Trump administration becomes an impossible task — especially for someone with the legendary discipline that a Marine Corps general-grade officer must possess.

Say it ain’t so, Gen. Kelly

Of all the people among Donald Trump’s closest advisers, the one I admire the most might be headed for some serious trouble.

The question being posed for White House chief of staff John Kelly is this: What did he know about former staff secretary Rob Porter’s alleged assault on two former wives and when did he know it? Yes, I am appropriating the famous question from the late, great GOP Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate scandal, but it surely applies today.

Kelly, the retired Marine general who came in to whip the White House staff into shape, is being examined over the timing of what he knew about Porter’s alleged abuse of his former wives. White House press flacks say Kelly only was “fully aware” a few days ago; but media are reporting that Gen. Kelly was made aware months ago when Porter was first hired as one of the president’s closest advisers.

Which is it, Gen. Kelly? Did you know early on or were you oblivious to what others around you reportedly knew?

Yes, Gen. Kelly has disappointed me in recent months. I had high hopes that he would guide Donald Trump toward a more reasoned, nuanced course as president. Sadly, it appears that he has followed Trump’s lead in denying accusations and calling accusers liars.

However, I still admire the service Kelly has given to our country and I hope he’s truthful, that he didn’t know about Porter’s criminal behavior until just the other day.

I do know that hope too often loses to reality.