The mythology that President Donald Trump weaves on his Twitter account was failing to fool a majority of Americans.
Thus the president had to do something to stabilize a White House crumbling under the rapid-fire comings and goings of key appointees, the health-care fiasco and the weight of the Russia investigation.
His hiring of former Homeland Security secretary and retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as chief of staff could be a decision that saves the Trump presidency and sets the stage for the hyper-partisans in Congress to find common ground and begin the hard work of solving our nation’s most pressing issues.
Whether or not the elevation of Kelly, a man distinguished by his love of country and ability to lead effective, disciplined organizations, is the tonic for the ailing Trump presidency ultimately will be decided by Trump himself.
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Our hope is that Kelly will be able to curb Trump’s worst instincts – particularly his preference for “competitive” chaos on his team – and bring order to a White House that badly needs it. The exit of foul-mouthed communications director Anthony Scaramucci after Kelly was sworn into his new role Monday was a good start.
Of course, Trump followed up Tuesday morning by ranting on Twitter about the “Fake News Media” and “Trump enemies.” As is often said, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Maybe the Treasury Department can whittle down America’s $19.9 trillion national debt by charging the president $100 every time he uses an exclamation point on Twitter.
The president had better be careful. He needs Kelly a lot more than Kelly needs him. We imagine that Kelly agreed to become chief of staff not because of personal ambition but out of loyalty to his country.
We imagine, too, that the other generals on the Trump team, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, are similarly motivated to make the Trump presidency succeed – even if the president himself appears hell bent on running our country into the ground and then blaming the results on everyone else.
The reality is, Kelly is more than simply the man charged with taking control of Trump’s dysfunctional West Wing. He is America’s chief of staff now. People all across the country are counting on to him to underpin an effort that leads to better days ahead.
Yes, it’s early. But we’re willing to bet that if the pollsters asked Americans how they felt about Trump, Congress, Democrats, Republicans and the new chief of staff, Kelly would come out on top by a wide margin.
When times get tough, Americans look to their general and admirals for leadership. Trump best remember that when weighing whether to heed Kelly’s advice or to act on his own.