How do we count the ways that this would be a monumentally bad idea?
No doubt, John Kelly has brought a measure of sanity to the Trump White House. He has put an iron curtain between the Oval Office and some of the chaotic influences that kept the new president spastic and out of control. Leaks seem to have slowed, and while nobody is going to stop Donald Trump from saying idiotic things on Twitter, there’s a slight, but noticeable sense of maturity seeping around the edges.
That didn’t just happen as a natural procession. Kelly had a hand in it.
Now, a new report suggests that recent word of friction between Kelly, a hardnosed military veteran, used to running a tight ship. And Trump, a barely-coherent reality TV clod, used to being pampered and catered to, may be leading to a new White House chief of staff.
Two sources close to the White House have apparently told a reporter with Vanity Fair that Trump wants out of the relationship with Kelly, and that Ivanka Trump is quietly checking into suitable replacements.
The name being tossed around is David Urban, a lobbyist and political operative who helped drive Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania.
Certainly, the optics of replacing John Kelly now, when there has already been such upheaval in the administration wouldn’t be the best move, going forward, but then, Trump and his clingers don’t think that far ahead. Trump only thinks of when he feels slighted.
But the prospect of a Trump-Kelly rupture became more probable as news of their clashes over immigration leaked. Last week, Kelly reportedly infuriated Trump when he told Fox News that Trump had “evolved” on his position to build a southern border wall. Kelly further catalyzed Trump’s ire when he told Democratic lawmakers that Trump was “uninformed” when he made his campaign promise to build the wall. The next morning Trump rebutted his chief of staff with a tweet: “The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.”
A minor thing, and not untrue. Trump has proven to be ignorant of a LOT of things. It didn’t stop him from blurting them out, however.
The Vanity Fair piece goes on to say staffers call Kelly “the Church Lady,” because of his stiff-necked, military correctness.
Trump has increasingly been chafing at the media narrative that he needs Kelly to instill discipline on his freewheeling management style. “The more Kelly plays up that he’s being the adult in the room—that it’s basically combat duty and he’s serving the country—that kind of thing drives Trump nuts,” a Republican close to the White House said. In recent days, Trump has fumed to friends that Kelly acts like he’s running the government while Trump tweets and watches television. “I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things,” Trump told one friend, according to a Republican briefed on the call. A second source confirmed that Trump has vented about Kelly, mentioning one call in which Trump said, “This guy thinks he’s running the show.” (A White House official said “it’s categorically false that Trump is unhappy with Kelly. He’s only ever referred to him as the general, tough, can be rough, and commands respect.”)
All we need now is for Kellyanne Conway to appear on Fox News and say Trump has full confidence in John Kelly.
To be clear, it’s apparently not all roses and silk for John Kelly, either. I honestly don’t see how it could be. He’s got the most thankless job in the government, right now. However much we’re paying him to be the Trump Whisperer can’t possibly be enough.
Kelly, in turn, has expressed frustration with Trump’s freewheeling management style and habit of making offensive statements. In August, when Trump incited outrage with his Charlottesville comments, Kelly complained to a colleague that he was “holding it together.” The next month, cameras captured Kelly’s infamous facepalm at Trump’s U.N. speech when Trump called Kim Jong Un “rocket man” and threatened to “totally destroy North Korea.” The New York Times reported that Kelly has threatened to quit numerous times.
Threatened, but hanging in there.
The report goes on to tell of Trump’s frustration with not getting the credit he feels he deserves for things like the stock market and the lowered unemployment numbers. He actually feels his approval numbers are in the high 50s (rather than the low to mid 30s being shown in most polls), but that “fake news” is hiding it from the world.
If he wants to see those numbers go haywire, go ahead and replace John Kelly and open the Oval Office back up to any crazed clinger with an agenda. I’m sure it’ll work out great.