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THOMAS TASCHINGER: Trump train can’t stay on track

August 6, 2017

People who work for Donald Trump are like Charlie Brown running toward the football held by Lucy, always hoping that they won’t be disappointed. But just as she always jerks away the pigskin at the last moment, Trump also barks “You’re fired” eventually - or causes the person in question to resign in disgust.

The latest focus of this folly is retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, hired as the new White House chief of staff. He takes over the office from the hapless Reince Priebus, who lasted just over six months.

Already, the soap opera-like questions are flying around Capitol Hill - and Main Street: Will he bring order to the White House? Will the Trump kids defer to him? Will the father of the Trump kids let him succeed?

For the sake of the president, and the entire nation, we must hope that the answers are yes, yes and yes. But if Vegas puts up an over/under line on Kelly’s tenure, go short.

That’s because Trump’s personnel problems stem from Trump himself.

He demands fawning loyalty but never returns it. Faithful supporters like Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani never got the jobs that were dangled before them during the campaign. Faithful supporters like spokesman Sean Spicer got jobs but lost them. Other faithful supporters like Jeff Sessions got jobs but were treated like dirt anyway (and should have resigned in protest).

One of the above fates probably awaits Kelly. This is not a match of similar souls.

He’s disciplined, Trump is chaotic.

As a four-star general who lost a son in Afghanistan, he should be treated with respect. He will be insulted.

He will want to run his job as it should be, with all meetings and appointments flowing through him. Trump will eventually bypass him.

He will want the White House operated in a logical, professional way. Trump will do things like Tweet out a change on transgender people serving in the military (not an actual order) without consulting his defense secretary.

At some point - and soon - Kelly will be so fed up that he will think about quitting. But he will try to stay anyway because he knows that the Trump administration needs grownups. That’s people who understand that war with North Korea would kill thousands and accomplish nothing. Or people who realize that the only thing preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is the agreement forged by President Obama - and which Trump has repeatedly denounced.

So maybe Kelly, like Defense Secretary James Mattis, will swallow hard, grit his teeth and hang in there. Maybe they’ll steer Trump away from the edges of dangerous things and let the president focus on the economy that has flowered on his watch.

We shall all hope, and find out. I’m guessing that the football gets yanked away again.


Thomas Taschinger, TTaschinger@BeaumontEnterprise.com, is the editorial page editor of The Beaumont Enterprise. Follow him on Twitter at @PoliticalTom

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