Unfortunately, most everyone knows what it is like to have a jerk boss. A boss that never supports you, changes their mind all the time, berates you in public, fires people on a whim and so on. In other words, a boss like Donald Trump.
Until now, many smart folks have been willing to overlook Trump’s poor management abilities. For one thing, they were getting to work for the most powerful office in the world. As for the holder of that office, they thought they could work around him, or change him, or it wouldn’t be as bad as it seemed or the famous “it won’t happen to me“.
They were wrong. Working for Trump is like playing Russian Roulette will all six bullets loaded. Eventually you will be whacked. People are starting to figure that out.
Two months ago Nikki Haley resigned as UN ambassador. Haley is pretty smart, and she really didn’t see any upside to working for Trump anymore. It probably didn’t help that the UN laughed in her boss’s face a few weeks before.
Trump whacked John Kelly figuring he had a replacement chief of staff lined up. But the replacement decided he didn’t want to work for a jerk and bowed out. Trump spent a panicked week looking for another
sucker person to fill in, with a bunch of high profile names turning him down until he finally found someone.
Is this just a speed bump in the Donald Trump reality show presidency? More likely, the smart rats are starting to sense a sinking ship.
One hundred years ago, bully was a good thing. The word meant fantastic, awesome, wonderful. President Teddy Roosevelt thought the presidency was a great platform to preach his message from – he called it a “bully pulpit”.
Bully no longer has that positive connotation but under bully in chief Donald Trump the pulpit lives again. Trump bullies his opponents because it works, just as it does in the schoolyard. Until someone fights back and beats the bully up, the bully will just keep on doing it.
Trump not only bullies his opponents, he bullies his own team. Trump bullied Jeff Sessions unceasingly until he finally fired him.
The latest casualty is John Kelly. Kelly joined Trump’s ‘team’ in the summer of 2017. Within 3 months Trump gave him the bully treatment. Kelly didn’t fight back and from then on Trump owned him. Now he is gone as well.
So far, no Republicans have had the guts to push back on Trump’s bullying. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats can effectively push back once they take control of the House.
Hint: Don’t bet on it.
John Kelly probably thought that he was operating by the old rules. There are just things that one did not do. Lines one does not cross.
Yet, after working as Donald Trump’s chief of staff for two and half months why didn’t he realize that Trump doesn’t have any lines? When Trump is attacked, he fights back with whatever he can, even if it means fighting dirty. In fact, Trump’s base is tired of Washington’s version of the the Marquess of Queensberry rules. They want him to fight to win, and they don’t care how.
So Trump had no compulsions about dragging Kelly’s dead Marine son into a Twitter battle that he was having with a Gold Star family and their congresswoman. What is surprising is that Kelly allowed himself to be goaded into defending Trump publicly, even spouting ‘facts’ that turned out to be false.
Kelly, a Gold Star father, publicly lied to defend his boss’ public lies about his conversation with a Gold Star mother.
Kelly’s wife is probably furious with him for not telling off Trump after he brought their son’s death into national politics and for then allowing his integrity, and by extension their family’s, to be publicly compromised.
But what can Kelly do? He likely believes, as Bob Corker pointed out, that he is one of the few people keeping Trump from starting World War Three. His sense of duty to the country won’t let him quit.
Once a bully finds out he can roll over you, he will keep doing it. Trump rolled over Kelly and got away with it. And now he owns Kelly.
Donald Trump’s appointment of John Kelly as his Chief of Staff will probably work. Kelly is retired military, and Trump spent five of his most formative years in a military academy under a tight command structure. If anyone can inject some discipline into Trump and his administration, it would be a four star general.
For a while.
Until Trump starts remembering what he didn’t like about the academy and the military life. Like how his command was taken away from him when he was ‘promoted’ into an administrative position. And how he chaffed at the rules (but got away with breaking them).
That’s when he will fall back on the fact that as commander in chief he actually outranks a four star general. He’ll go back to shooting himself and his administration in the foot. At which point Kelly might quit. Because if there’s one thing that really annoys a military man, it is friendly fire.