CLEAN HOUSE: The White House Is A Disaster Zone. A Major Shake-Up Is Needed.
As my friend Steve Berman memorably phrased it last December: “I feel like the first responder at a Porta Potty explosion. I don’t even know where to begin, but I do know everything is covered in crap.”
Alas, begin somewhere we must.
The ink was barely dry on President Trump’s West Wing offers of employment when rumors had already begun to circulate of top-level staff facing pressure on the hot seat. AOL (which, much like Bob Dylan’s voice, nearly died many times but seems to still exist) reported in early February that Trump was already considering replacing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer a mere few weeks into his nascent presidency, and U.S. News noted in early April that Trump was considering at that time firing both White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Over this past weekend, fresh on the heels of the controversial dismissal last week of FBI Director James Comey, all the old rumors came backagain.
My unsolicited advice for the man who made tens of millions of dollars off of saying “You’re Fired!” on national television is relatively straightforward: Fire (basically) everyone. Clean house. And do not waste another minute.
To call the current state of this White House a dumpster fire would be far too kind to dumpster fires, which, after all, still burn unwanted refuse. To call the current state of this White House a mere run-of-the-mill poop show would be to overstate the devastation wrought by your median Porta Potty explosion.
When Spicer isn’t saying asinine things about the Holocaust, Bannon is calling Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner a “cuck” (which, if you recall, is a horrific slur in Bannon’s erstwhile Breitbart pastures) behind the latter’s back. When Priebus isn’t shilling for milquetoast establishmentarianism on the Sunday talk show circuit or providing cover for his long-time friend House Speaker Paul Ryan to both lie about Obamacare repeal and throw the free market under the bus on Obamacare repeal, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is demonstrating Sofia-Coppola-in-The-Godfather-Part-III-levels of gross incompetence with her messaging on Russia.
Each and every one of these people ought to go. And ideally, so should Jared and Ivanka.
Coming so soon after Comey’s inglorious dismissal, the usual suspects amongst the media and Democratic Party (but I repeat myself) will howl about Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and consolidation of power. Let them do so. I too feared that this president might well harbor pseudo-strongman tendencies, but I think we can all soberly now concede that such fears were either over-amplified or misplaced. Would-be despots, in our constitutional scheme, do not nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court pro-separation of powers, anti-administrative state jurists such as Neil Gorsuch. Would-be “conservative” totalitarians, in our constitutional scheme, do not have a first 100 days of office wherein they get their already-twice-watered-down immigration executive orders struck down by judges, fail to get their staggeringly weak Obamacare “replacement” plans past more one than one measly house of Congress, or get absolutely steamrolled by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on their first major budget battles.
Trump is not an authoritarian figure. Instead, as a brand-new hullabaloo seems to remind us each and every day, the reality is deceptively much simpler: Trump just has no idea what he is doing. There is no plan, and there is—no matter what Bill Mitchell says—no
four five six-degree chess being played. There is only sheer incompetence and a general cluelessness about the solemnity of the office to which Trump has been elected. Rodney Dangerfield fit in better as a frontman at stodgy Bushwood Country Club than Trump fits in leading the free world out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But Trump is still our president—for at least another three and a half years. (At least in theory, that is—Las Vegas currently has Trump as barely better than even money odds to complete his full first term.) The constitutional impeachment standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” though prescribing a purposefully political and thus legally imprecise threshold, is, despite Democratic protestations to the contrary, not even remotely yet apropos (with an emphasis on “yet,” that is). Trump, despite all the buffoonish tweeting, the befuddling lack of grasp over the White House edifice, and the persistent rumors of alleged nefarious collusion with the Kremlin, remains our president for the foreseeable future.
Which is, of course, why something needs to change. The current course upon which this White House is set is utterly unsustainable. There are brutally warring rival factions, uncontrollable leaks galore, a deeply distrustful intelligence community, a complete lack of communication among the president and many of his top aides, and an impetuous amateur with all-too-trigger-happy tweeting fingers at the top who cares about nothing more than his own approval ratings.
It cannot possibly get much worse than this current dysfunction. So clean house now. Trump should ditch the hapless Spicer and Huckabee Sanders quicker than Spicer can say, “Holocaust centers.” Trump should ditch the irksome Bannon—who never should have been within a fifty-mile radius of this kind of power, to begin with—quicker than Bannon can say, “nationalist populism.” And Trump should replace Priebus, a lifelong GOP party man and paragon of Chamber of Commerce-esque establishmentarianism, with a genuine conservative in order to both appease the party’s downtrodden conservative faction and to increase the odds of perhaps haphazardly stumbling upon a chief of staff who might summon the testicular fortitude to cajole Trump into deleting Twitter from his phone. And if Trump wants to make things a bit more interesting at the dinner table, then he really ought to also consider removing lifelong Leftists Jared and Ivanka from the corridors of power.