Trump doesn't need an 'SOB' chief of staff

Some have likened President Donald Trump to former President Richard Nixon. Whether Trump's legal woes make ...

Posted: Dec 13, 2018 10:39 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2018 10:39 PM

Some have likened President Donald Trump to former President Richard Nixon. Whether Trump's legal woes make that comparison valid remains to be seen. However, as he seeks a new White House chief of staff, I cannot help but think about what Nixon's notorious White House chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, reportedly said: "Every President needs an S.O.B. -- and I'm Nixon's."

While that may have been true for Nixon, in the case of Trump, it could be argued he fills that role himself. Which is to say, Trump doesn't need to hire an SOB. If anything, he needs a nice guy (or gal), who can build bridges, boost morale and give a sense of stability and order to the White House.

Donald Trump

Political Figures - US

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Politics

Richard Nixon

Ronald Reagan

US federal government

White House

As I learned when serving in Ronald Reagan's administration, it really does matter who the White House chief of staff is. In eight years, Reagan had four chiefs, three of whom made significant contributions to the success of his presidency, and one of whom almost brought it down.

His first chief of staff, James A. Baker, III, is widely credited for setting the gold standard of how a White House should be run, but more than that, Baker played a key role in crafting the Reagan administration's economic policy and selling it to Congress.

Baker's only mistake, in which he was joined by then-Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, was convincing Reagan to allow him to swap jobs with Treasury Secretary Donald Regan. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, it was anything but. Regan's imperious style and failure to grasp that the President was the only star in the show was a disaster.

Indeed, the Tower Commission, which examined the Iran-Contra scandal that almost brought down the Reagan presidency, blamed Regan for "the chaos that descended upon the White House."

Reagan knew that Regan's replacement had to be more than an able administrator with good relations on Capitol Hill. He instinctively understood that his selection needed to send the critical message that he had been honest with the American people and that his presidency remained viable.

There was only one person whose appointment as chief of staff would accomplish that -- former Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr., whose conduct during the Watergate hearings established him as the embodiment of integrity in public service. Patriot that he was, Baker agreed to Reagan's request to serve as White House chief of staff.

When the announcement was made, a sigh of relief among Reagan's staff could be heard on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. To his credit, Baker did not pretend to be an administrator, and relied on a combination of longtime aides of his own as well as existing Reagan White House aides to run the day-to-day operation. He assumed the much-needed role of adviser to the President. When Baker decided to step down, Reagan turned to Kenneth Duberstein, Baker's highly respected deputy and longtime White House aide with unmatched connections on Capitol Hill, to guide the presidential ship.

Reagan's selection of Howard Baker and Duberstein proved wise: Without the distraction of a chaotic White House, Reagan was able to negotiate a historic nuclear arms reduction treaty with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, which many believe was the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

That the Trump White House is unlike any other in recent memory is indisputable. Whether that is good or bad is an open question. Clearly, the people voted for change in 2016. But so, too, did they vote for a White House that produces results. The stakes are high: Our red-hot economy shows signs of slowing down, our relationships with Russia, China and North Korea -- not to mention Europe -- are unstable, and how we treat people with whom we disagree is in serious need of fixing.

As the President approaches the second half of his first term, he -- and the country -- would be well served by the appointment of a chief of staff who, rather than being an SOB, is an individual who knows his or her way around Washington, has a thick skin, no ego and is resolutely focused on getting things done.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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