There’s not a “new sheriff in town” – there’s a new retired four-star general in the White House and apparently, he’s already kicking butts and taking names in an effort to restore some order and process to the upper echelons of the Trump administration.
The Wall Street Journal summarizes Kelly’s new protocol as “Stop bickering, get in early, make an appointment.
To illustrate, the Journal (via Zero Hedge) recounted an anecdote from earlier this week, as a small group of senior officials talked with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office about plans to take on Beijing over intellectual-property theft. When a side debate broke out between two top aides, the new White House chief of staff ordered the pair out of the room.
Return, John Kelly told them, once your differences are resolved, according to a person familiar with the exchange.
In addition, Kelly has put an end to the free flow of paperwork across the president’s desk, and instituted a more formal process for setting up meetings.
Mr. Kelly laid down clear lines of authority and ordered aides to stay in their lanes. Discussions with senators, U.S. House members or others on Capitol Hill must be reported to the White House’s legislative affairs director, Marc Short. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Mr. Kelly said, must know about meetings with foreign diplomats.
Aides can no longer simply loiter outside the Oval Office door, trying to catch a moment with the president – nor can they do that outside Kelly’s office either.
And nobody is spared Kelly’s rules — nobody, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump or even Steven Bannon. Everyone now reports to Kelly instead of directly to the president.
Most amazingly perhaps is the new protocols may have even managed to reduce Trump’s Twitter usage – although it’s truly too early say.
While the president tweeted less this week, on Thursday morning he criticized Congress’s passage of sanctions against Russia. The message contradicted Vice President Mike Pence, who, two days earlier, said the sanctions bill showed Mr. Trump and Congress were “speaking with a unified voice.”
Unlike the drama that seems to follow Trump everywhere he goes, people who have known Mr. Kelly for years describe his style as no-nonsense. He introduces himself on phone calls and in emails to people he knows simply as “Kelly.” “If you’re in a 10-minute meeting with him, he’ll be quiet for the first nine minutes,” listening before making a decision or a pronouncement, said one person close to him.
“You’re starting to see a different flow, a different discipline,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday. Mr. Mulvaney said when he has spoken with Mr. Trump by phone this week, the chief of staff has also been on the line.
Nay-sayers are already predicting Kelly won’t be able to contain the president, but that may be a fool’s wager.
Still in the honeymoon phase, Trump remains a big fan of the general.
Trump was impressed by Mr. Kelly’s presentations at DHS, at times describing him as “a killer.” He is also taken, said one official, by the “presence” of his chief of staff, who stands about 6-foot-2 and tends to dominate the room. Mr. Trump had offered Mr. Kelly the chief of staff job in the spring, officials said, but Mr. Kelly declined at that time.
Trump built a successful television franchise on the idea of quickly hiring and firing staff members when they couldn’t cut it. One would think he built his business empire in the same fashion.
Washington is a different beast, as we all know, but let’s hope this staff change ushers in a new chapter for the Trump administration with less drama and more substance.
[This article was written by Michele Hickford, author of the brutally honest and bitingly funny Do I Need To Slap You?]