I read several news articles this evening about the White House being in chaos. That’s become a popular and frequent genre of news article this past year or so; I generally try to avoid indulging in too much schadenfreude, but I still get a certain frisson from these kinds of articles.
Especially when otherwise journalistically-neutral-tone pieces veer into snark. For example, “Fueling Trump's chaos: Can't fire who he wants, can't keep who he likes,” by CNN’s Kevin Liptak, is largely traditionally journalistic in tone, but then comes this bit:
[…] as the tariff episode illustrated, whatever processes exist to unveil policy decision[s] can be easily upended by Trump himself.
Trump loyalists say it’s precisely that instinct which drives his successes, inasmuch as a hasty announcement that sinks markets can be viewed as successful.
And here are some tidbits that I liked from “Trump’s Chaos Theory for the Oval Office Is Taking Its Toll,” by the New York Times’s Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman:
Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and an old friend of the president’s [said] Mr. Trump relied on a small circle of colleagues and a management style that amounted to “trial and error — the strongest survived, the weak died.”
Mr. Trump has few fixed views on any issue, but he has been consistent on his antipathy for free trade since the 1980s
But a president who has long tried to impose his version of reality on the world is finding the limits of that strategy.
Morale in the West Wing has sunk to a new low, these people said.
Privately, some aides have expressed frustration that Mr. Kushner and his wife, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, have remained at the White House, despite Mr. Trump at times saying they never should have come to the White House and should leave. Yet aides also noted that Mr. Trump has told the couple that they should keep serving in their roles, even as he has privately asked Mr. Kelly for his help in moving them out.
Shifting into opinion pieces, we have “Will the Last Person to Leave the West Wing Please Turn Out the Lights?” by David A. Graham of the Atlantic, an overview of reasons why we might soon see the departure of such people as Jared Kushner, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn, and/or Jeff Sessions. Then again, as the article notes, all of those folks have been rumored to be on the verge of departure before, and they’re all still around. But I liked this bit:
As in the case of McMaster, the question of who might fill those roles remains a barrier to the incumbents leaving in the first place. The Trump administration had trouble recruiting for many jobs when it began, and convincing qualified people to work there hasn’t gotten any easier. Prospective hires face the challenge of a president who will berate them publicly, the humiliation of colleagues who will leak damaging information about them to the press without a second thought, the danger of having to retain costly attorneys amid Mueller’s Russia probe, and the reputational risk of association with this administration.
And speaking of the dangers of working for this administration, here’s one more opinion piece: “Trump’s advisers are gluttons for punishment,” by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post.
It’s a peculiar phenomenon: Trump bumbles along, his approval rating low but relatively constant, while those he touches are disgraced or ruined. Trump delights in destroying foes, but his indiscriminate destruction brings down friends just as easily.
This was true in Trump’s business dealings, as measured by a long trail of lawsuits, bankruptcies and business associates saying they were stiffed.
Even those who entered with solid credentials — Spicer, Tillerson, Priebus, Shulkin, John F. Kelly, Rod J. Rosenstein, Katie Walsh — have seen their reputations soiled by Trump, whose loyalty code is unidirectional and whose chaotic leadership drives people to the exits.