Many of my readers likely recall, as I do, how the Reagan White House operated. Each week there was a message they wanted to press forward on. For instance the week might be all about tax reform with one day devoted to deductions for home owners, another day designed to highlight the complexity of the tax code. There would be members of the cabinet spread out for speaking engagements, and the use of backdrops with slogans backing up the central message where used endlessly.
It was masterful marketing of a message. As a young man who did not support Reagan I nonetheless was impressed with the skill and talent that took place each week from the White House. Having said that I now can say there is a most severe lack of seasoned talent in the Trump White House when it comes to messaging. It was most obvious this weekend and makes for a giant political mess for all the Republicans. It also harms the nation.
There is no doubt that chaos was Donald Trump’s calling card during the campaign. It was created for effect. But governing can not be aimed to create chaos. If anyone truly loved their country they would not willingly do things that made for fear and uncertainty. But this blog has never pretended that Donald Trump loved America.
What we have seen in Trump’s first few days in the Oval Office is that chaos is not a good tool for governing. That is most clear when viewing the introduction of the administration’s refugee/travel ban.
The reason there is so much chaos is that there is a lack of competency. Trump does not have the resume for the job and lacks experience in government. His inner team lacks government experience. And not for the first time do I stress Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is totally out of his element. Being a political operative within the party is not the same as having the gravitas for the duties and heavy responsibilities of making the White House operate smoothly. And we have seen that fact play out over the past ten days.
Look at what happened just this weekend.
“The White House was left to defend what seemed to many government veterans like a slapdash process,” the New York Times’ Peter Baker writes about Trump’s travel ban. “Aides to Mr. Trump insisted they had consulted for weeks with relevant officials, but the head of the customs and border service in the Obama administration, who resigned on inauguration day, said the incoming president’s team never talked with him about it.”
Now we learned this morning there was no inter-governmental approach used to allow this ban to have been vetted.
We learned that the Homeland Security secretary was being briefed over the phone on the ban as President Trump was signing the executive order on TV. For one who has worked in government at the state level I can assure my readers this is simply unfathomable to ponder as to how such stupidity actually took place!
Then to top it off the administration reversed itself, with Priebus saying on Meet the Press that Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries “doesn’t affect green card holders moving forward.”
The political mess is massive for the Republicans as this now becomes a huge legal journey that will consume time and create inroads for Democrats to make salient points. This was a colossal mistake–which never need to have happened.
But it underscores what I have said for over a year. Experience matters. A resume matters.
And being a smart voter matters, too.