Will the shakedown phase of the Trump White House end with new chief of staff John Kelly?
It is not uncommon for a new White House to have a shakedown phase and switch chiefs of staff. Rahm Emanuel's tenure as President Obama's first White House chief of staff only lasted just over nine months.
Appointing Reince Priebus his chief of staff must have seemed a worthwhile trial when Donald Trump sketched out his administration. Priebus brought the GOP establishment into the inner circle, in hopes that victory could yield cooperation at least as good as the RNC was able to deliver to his campaign. But the national politicians of the party are as yet far from unified in their backing of President Trump.
In terms of management, the president's predilection for direct communications and the presence of family among advisers bypassed anything resembling a chain of command. And face it: Priebus was great at being head of the RNC, an organization that is far from top-down in nature. He was good at the cajoling needed in such situations, but managing the time of the POTUS and coordinating the actions of the W.H. staff requires an iron spine if any semblance of order is to be maintained.
Whatever the truth of widely held suspicions that Priebus was the long sought inner-circle leaker, President Trump appears to have realized he needs a chief of staff who can impose order and make things run efficiently. The appointment of General John Kelly, whose half-year tenure as head of HHS is highly regarded, who was a four-star Marine general before retiring, and who has White House and congressional liaison experience in his past, is an excellent sign. The only real question is whether Trump will defer to the order that Kelly tries to impose – first and foremost, controlling who speaks to the president. This means you, Anthony Scaramucci, Jared Kushner, and even Ivanka Trump.
If President Trump, a man in his seventies, wants to stop stepping on his message and get organized, a team working together, he needs to change his spontaneous style and chafe under the arrangements he has made for the good of his administration and his country.