The New York Times laughable headline late Friday stated John Kelly, New Chief of Staff, Is Seen as Beacon of Discipline. Reporters Ron Nixon and Michael D. Shear elaborated on this foolhardy assessment that the retired four-star Marine general will bring order out of chaos:
Mr. Kelly’s arrival in his new post on Monday could signal a new stability at the White House, but only if Mr. Trump gives him the authority to crack down on the behavior of his other aides. As a real estate developer, Mr. Trump has operated with a staff that has often seemed out of control.
The selection of Mr. Kelly was quickly praised by both Republicans and Democrats, who expressed hope that he would bring a swift end to the distracting feuds among the president’s staff.
“The kind of discipline that he is going to bring is important,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said on CNN shortly after the president’s announcement. “I hope that we’re at a turning point now.”
It’s difficult to understand where this hopefulness comes from. It’s the wretched Donald J. Trump who is really out of control. As Ruth Marcus points out:
So a staff shake-up of the sort that Trump tweeted out Friday afternoon is the ordinary solution to a White House in trouble — but this is no ordinary White House problem. Even if Kelly is theoretically empowered in a way that Priebus never was — to have all staff report to him, control access to the Oval Office, above all to say “no” to Trump — it would be naive to expect some sudden transformation in the president himself.
By most accounts, Kelly has a distinguished career that took him to the heights of the U.S. military establishment. But he’s also a Trump sycophant. And even top Marine generals are not immune from becoming yes men. Kelly may well bring the staff to attention and end the in-fighting. He may even rein in the regime’s newest loose cannon, communications director Anthony Scaramucci. But neither the general nor anyone else likely to get the job appears capable of bringing discipline to the man squatting in the Oval Office or making him a more effective leader. As John Nichols writes, Kelly will continue coddling Trump and enabling him:
Kelly likes to present himself as a bold truth teller. He got good marks when he told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, “I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations.” But once he joined the cabinet, however, Kelly made himself over as a cheerleader for Trump and Trumpism.
What attracted Trump to Kelly was not the retired general’s candor. [...]
Everyone knows that one man needs to be challenged and confronted with reality. Unfortunately, John Kelly does not have a record of challenging or confronting the president’s absurd assertions. Kelly has a record of coddling Trump, and no good will come of that.
Many Republicans and some prominent Democrats still seem to believe there is a path to normality at the White House, and that John Kelly is the man to guide us there. In fact, there exists only one path to that end. Replacing Trump. How close we are to that day is anybody’s guess.