There are weeks, and there are “weeks.” This week seemed like a month’s worth of news was crammed into it…by force. And through all of it, nothing good was done for the American people or the cause of individual liberty. It’s enough to make you wonder if there’s a method to the madness, or if it’s just madness for its own sake.
I’d like to believe there is a big-picture strategy in the moves coming out of the White House this week, but there is nothing to indicate that. It’s just my hope.
When President Trump tweeted his reversal of the late Obama administration policy of transgender people serving openly in the military, I was right there with him. Obama made the policy change for political reasons, to be used as a wedge issue for Hillary Clinton and Democrats to hammer Republicans. It didn’t work.
But Trump’s reversal, although welcome, was ham-handed.
Tweeting a policy does not make it policy. You’d think someone on staff would know this. The Pentagon still has not received any written order or guidance, so literally nothing has changed.
I’m in favor of whatever is in the best interest of the troops, and if not having trans people in foxholes is best for the military’s mission (as I suspect it is), then it should be policy. But the president has done nothing to make it actual policy.
Nothing against trans people – I don’t care what people do in their personal lives as long as it doesn’t hurt others. I just don’t believe the military is where you play social engineering games. If, after serious study and talking with troops in a way where they don’t feel pressured to give politically correct answers, it is found they have no issues with it, then I’m down with it. It’s about what’s in the military’s best interest, not some politician trying to score points or raise money.
But to announce it via Twitter without informing the Pentagon or having a plan to implement the policy is, at best, sloppy, and at worst, reckless.
Speaking of reckless, the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director was pouring gasoline on a grease fire. Scaramucci was a fine surrogate when he was disconnected officially from the White House. But as his profanity-laced tirade to a reporter indicated, now that he’s inside the White House he speaks for the president, even when speaking for himself.
I don’t care that he swore – he sounds like a piker compared to me when I get going. But the president’s communications director has to be aware of everything he says and does, especially if it involves a reporter. You have to know the difference between off the record and on. Considering he asked during that conversation to go off the record for a time, that means he knew he was on it the rest of the time. The president needs a salesman to run his communications shop, but I’m worried he’s hired a used car salesman for the job. Again, sloppy and embarrassing.
Speaking of embarrassing, let’s talk about the defeat of Obamacare repeal in the Senate. The squishy Republican senators who chickened out on moving forward deserve all the scorn thrown their way and to lose their seats, should they decide to run again. But the White House is not without blame.
A good communications and political strategy would have had the president spending time selling a bill, and doing media and events in states with suspect senators to pressure them to move forward. But the White House was too busy fighting with itself, and the president spent more time publicly humiliating Attorney General Jeff Sessions than making the case for anything.
That brings us to Gen. John Kelly. This may be the only good news to come out of a week of the White House trampling its own message. Reince Preibus, by all accounts, is a good man. But that doesn’t make him a good chief of staff for a president.
Gen. Kelly brings with him a military sensibility, which means no BS. But reports indicate he’s still not going to be the gatekeeper to the President when it comes to Scaramucci, as a chief of staff should be for all staff.
If President Trump allows that to stay in place, expect confrontation between him and Scaramucci. If Kelly doesn’t win every one of those confrontations, nothing will change. If he does, if some discipline finds its way into the Trump White House, especially on messaging and pushing an agenda, it might start actually winning.
Then candidate Trump said Americans “may get tired of winning.” That hasn’t been an issue yet. Unless and until the White House focuses its considerable energy on specific agenda items and engages smartly on them, the only winning will continue to be in one-sided tweet battles with his own staff.