Monday, July 31, 2017


New White House chief of staff John Kelly has fired Anthony Scaramucci, and Kelly is already becoming a figure of myth in the Beltway:
The abrupt decision signals that Kelly is moving quickly to assert control over the West Wing, which has been characterized by interpersonal disputes and power struggles during Trump's six months in office.

The retired Marine general, who was sworn in Monday morning, was brought into the White House in the hope that he will bring military-style discipline to Trump's staff. He has been fully empowered by the president to make significant changes to the organization, White House officials and outside advisers said.
Charlie Pierce, justifiably, is concerned:
... during his brief time running the Department of Homeland Security, Kelly was charged with implementing not only the president*'s Muslim ban, but also unleashing ICE to conduct terrifying raids all over the country in furtherance of the president*'s race-baiting rhetoric regarding immigration. As to the first, last January, Kelly stated that the Muslim ban was not a Muslim ban, but it was. He also stood by the ICE raids. On this issue, he and the president are flat-out running buddies. Kelly is a good soldier and, in this administration, that worries me.

Frankly, I don't want this president* to project competence in office. The only thing slowing our slide toward an authoritarian government is the fact that the president* is so bad at it. I don't want the message to be coherent if the policy is destructive and retrograde. If the president* starts performing the role of The President without throwing himself into the orchestra pit three times a show, then the theater-critic wing of America's punditocracy may decide that Kelly has made a silk purse out of this particular sow's ear. It will not be true, but it might be something you can sell.

But if that happens, we can guess what comes next:

Right -- if Kelly does impose discipline on the White House, he'll start getting great press -- hell, the Boss may already be jealous of the press Kelly's getting today. If Kelly gets the trains to run on time, he'll be on the covers of the dead-tree magazines Trump still values. He'll be praised for being the person who finally made Trump "presidential." Next stop: Trump's doghouse. Nobody makes Trump "presidential" except Trump, according to Trump.

But White House discipline isn't Trump's only problem. His most significant problem is that he can't get anything done that requires the passage of an actual bill, in part because the congressional GOP is in a state of war between the ultras and the ultra-ultras, and mostly because the president of the United States understands policy about as well as I understand irregular verb forms in Urdu.

What this means is that, very soon, Trump will fail at something. When this happens, his delicate psyche will have a desperate need for someone to blame who is not named Donald Trump. Trump reportedly blamed Kelly's predecessor for the failure of Obamacare repeal, as if Reince Priebus was responsible for the obvious moral bankruptcy of every GOP health care proposal, and as if Trump's inability to weigh in on the legislation and unwillingness even to cheerlead it more than half-heartedly was Priebus's fault.

This is going to happen to Kelly soon. He's going to be the scapegoat for a failure in the very near future, because someone has to be. I give his honeymoon six weeks -- tops.

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