Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
I contend that, in many ways, we are going to see a different Trump Administration going forward. Heretofore, the President has been hampered by not having his people in key positions. Unlike most of his predecessors, the President, having never been in government or active in party or electoral politics, did not have a ready list of friends, contacts or associates that could step into key administration positions, whether at the White House or in the Cabinet, and move his agenda forward. Outside of the few campaign loyalists (who also had no government experience) such as Flynn, Kelly Ann Conway or Bannon, his appointments were a mixed bag. Some came from the RNC – i.e., Spicer and Priebus; other from primary opponents – Ben Carson, Rick Perry, etc. Others were highly thought of individuals from the business world -Tillerson, Cohn, Mnunchin -or the military – Mattis, McMasters, Kelly. Some came from Congress – Price, Pompeo. A few came from the Trump organization – Hope Hicks – or from his family – Ivanka, Jared, etc. With the obvious exception of his family, none were what you would call close to or intimates of the President. As a result, there was no true buy-in to the President’s agenda or close association and enthusiasm for accomplishing that agenda. The result – chaos in the White House and the Cabinet departments; in-fighting; open faucets of information far beyond leaks; no message discipline or coordination; no effective legislative operation.
So, why do I think things will be different? For one reason, the President has gotten rid of many of the non-performers (Tillerson, Price, Priebus, Spicer), the disrupters (Bannon, Flynn) and the questionable policy opposition (Tillerson, Cohn). His team is now somewhat more cohesive and on-board with the President’s agenda. Also, in his tenure as Chief of Staff, General Kelly has managed to bring some order out of the chaos and will continue to do so as long as he is in that position. The leaks should diminish as well as the in-fighting. Furthermore, as the primaries and the general elections draw nigh, the Republican candidates and incumbents, having sold their souls to the President, will likely coalesce somewhat around him and his agenda.
What has not changed, and will not change? Why, the President himself. There is no reason whatsoever to think that he will suddenly, or gradually, become more “presidential” . This leopard will not change his spots. Why should he? His is not a policy-driven Administration; he has a campaign agenda that he feels obligated to address, even superficially, but he himself is not emotionally tied to the success of that agenda. Donald Trump’s success is measured solely by his continued status as the “Big Dog”, the one person who can accomplish whatever. Go back and read or listen to his acceptance speech at the GOP National Convention in Cleveland; that alone should tell you what you need to know about the man who is the current President of the United States.
So, what do I expect? Fewer leaks, less controversy, a more cohesive message among the underlings, more personnel changes, continued stagnation legislatively, and oh yes, twitter storms.