A White House of Yes-Men and Brown-Nosers
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A White House of Yes-Men and Brown-Nosers

Flattery, Boot-Licking and a TV Presence Are Enough to Get a Spot Near the Oval Office


It must be nice to be in a position in which you only hear what you want.

Unlike Trump, I hear things all day long that make me worry, or nervous or feeling as if I need to double down to work harder to persuade and help folks around me cope with what they have been dealt. Unlike Trump, I have a pretty good idea of what my overall direction is, what the preferred ways would be to move toward those goals and, yet, remain flexible enough to adjust when Life intervenes.

For Trump, there are no real principles in play other than wanting to hear constant praise. So, in pursuit of “better chemistry” with his advisers, he has chucked his Secretary of State, his chief economic adviser and now his national security adviser—with more chucking to come. He has thrown out any notion of hiring people with real experience, choosing instead those who will do well on television and not question him.

So, maybe this approach will serve his purposes best. He can bumble from one crisis to another with only America First slogans to recall without anyone actually telling him he has no governmental clothes on.

As Trump says of himself, he thrives in a pool of disruption—which he successfully has created and now fosters.

For the rest of us, to hear of the arrival of John Bolton as the chief curator of national intelligence is a scary thought. Apart from his strong, hawkish views, Bolton is known as an angular warrior who does not get along well with others. Frankly, it is hard to see how Bolton’s personality fits in a job that requires calming and reasoning outlooks and a healthy dose of persuasion to sift for consensus among 17 different national intelligence agencies. Bolton is a guy who was rejected for sub-Cabinet posts by the Republican-majority Senate under President George W. Bush because he was too much of a war advocate.

The immediate read among political heads is that Bolton’s arrival, particularly with fellow hawk Mike Pompeo heading the State Department, will bring heightened tensions with Iran in the Middle East, more confrontation with China and a dollop of new uncertainty over now announced talks with North Korea. Bolton favors breaking the nuclear weapons agreements with Iran and has called for U.S. pre-emptive attacks against North Korea as a preferred choice over any attempt at diplomacy. Of course, Bolton might think the president should follow highlighted instructions as in “DO NOT CONGRATULATE PUTIN.”

Maybe Trump just thinks he agrees with his team.

At the same time, the president has chosen Larry Kudlow, basically a television commentator who offers a play-by-play on the economy that actually runs counter to the president’s strongest views to head economic thinking in the White House. Again, they seem to be personal friends, which may be good for the president, but for me, I would think that someone actually with economics training might be a better fit.

And, of course, the Russia investigation goes on and on, now with a changing cast of lawyers to represent the president as the probe tightens around activities in the White House. Again, the choice of Joe DiGenova to join his legal team is based on his repeated insulting remarks on Fox News television accusing the government of concocting a special counsel investigation as a ruse to attack the president.

Richard Hass, head of the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted a useful summary: Trump has created simultaneous crises in economics through a China tariffs program that leans toward a trade war, personal crises through conflicts with Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and now foreign policy conflicts through his changes in the national security team.

That even skips over the more personal set of attacks underway from porn star Stormy Daniels, former Playboy model Karen McDougal and several other women who all say that they were treated badly after having had affairs with Trump.

Through it all, Trump seems to see himself as an island of calm in an angry sea. Perhaps it is easier for Trump just not to look out the windows. By hiring a new lineup of advisers who won’t question him, Trump, in effect, is closing all the White House windows.

If he looked outside, he might see a national sea of protests over guns, immigration policy, education issues, rising prices and lack of job training. He might see a nation divided and see the need for him to lead, to heal, to make things a little easier. He might see a nation that needs better health care, lower drug prices and more environmental and consumer protection.

Oh, sorry. I thought I was describing Life and forgot that the president does not want to hear a contrary word.

And just to make sure, remember that all these advisers have been made to sign unenforceable non-disclosure agreement forms.

Maybe Trump should just ask Stormy to sign as a witness.

March 24, 2018