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Debra Saunders | Bad hires, but double standards for Trump

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WASHINGTON – In 2010, when General Stanley McChrystal and his assistants were quoted in a Rolling Stone article disparaging senior officials in the administration of President Barack Obama, including Vice President Joe Biden, the New York Times has entered senior management.

A Gray Lady editorial asked if Obama could trust McChrystal, his supreme commander in Afghanistan, after his "extremely unruly comments" and argued that Obama should fire the revered general – or, at the very least, Dress him up before sending him back to battle. zoned.

The word "insubordination" was launched freely – even though the Inspector General of the Army found no wrongdoing a year after Obama forced McChrystal to retire.

Beltway-think was largely convinced that a president should not have to support a general who was not firmly on his side. But when President Donald Trump fires staff members who violate his program, they call it a "purge."

Oddly enough, a city filled with institutionalists seems to have forgotten some basic principles – that a president has the right to insist on staff members who agree with his agenda.

And when people outside the White House urge Trump to get rid of the employees who undermine his agenda, it is news. I spoke to one of these people in the background who told me that if Trump had been better at staffing the first day, "he would not have been removed."

An ingenious chief of staff allegedly acted to end the two-and-a-half-year Russian investigation that found no coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump Tower, a result that was clear from the start, did be worth this individual. And a wise chief of staff could have transferred the whistleblower who went too far to complain about Trump's phone call on July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the president – wrongly, but not an impenetrable offense in my mind – asked Zelenskiy to dig up the dirt on Biden.

I see two reasons for the double standard.

First, Washington is not giving Trump the benefit of the doubt.

Second, Trump blows on the staff members like they were Kleenex.

McChrystal was an aberration. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the national security adviser who testified at the Trump removal trial and was escorted out of the White House for his testimony, is one soldier among many.

As a candidate, Trump has boasted of hiring "the best candidates". But if he had hired the best, he wouldn't have fired as many high-ranking officials – and he wouldn't disparage them by showing them the door.

Kathryn Dunn Tenpas has chronicled Trump's record sales for the Brookings Institution. She found that 82 percent of her "Team A slots" were transferred – more than a third of them had two or more occupants.

Diehard Trump fans forgive his bad hires as the understandable result of a non-politician winning the White House. They don't see any inconvenience. But as Tenpas noted, most presidents have served before and can count on a "network of helpers who have helped them over the decades." On the contrary, Trump runs the White House in an "island" way as if it were a "family business," added Tenpas.

Except that the store is so huge, Trump had to reach out and hire unknown actors, some of whom may not have been as loyal to him as he wished, and many of whom have alienated as they went. they put their reputation at stake in its service.

Consider Attorney General Bill Barr, who warned Trump not to tweet about justice department cases. And Trump is still tweeting about former judge Roger Stone’s judge and jury.

Yes, White House aides should quit if they disagree with its policies, and some have done so. But some stayed because they saw the duty to stabilize a volatile ship. And it seems that some stayed to make holes in the hull.

The next question could therefore be: Has Trump learned from his poor hiring decisions? The answer would be yes. But he has not learned the most important lesson: that he must be more careful in his staffing decisions.

Trump ousted staff deemed insufficiently loyal following his indictment and acquittal, and replaced the director of the Office of the Presidential Personnel, Sean Doocey, with John McEntee, 29, a former body man and assistant to Trump campaign dismissed by Trump's second chief of staff, John Kelly – apparently after struggling to obtain a security clearance due to gambling issues. McEntee's apparent tenure: Director of Loyalty.

A second chance is a good thing – but it's hard to believe that McEntee is the best person for a job that requires a seasoned hand that can measure not only loyalty but also ability. You get the feeling that Trump doesn't think it's important that he hires as long as he's in charge. It's an approach that always bites.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at [email protected] or 202-662-7391. To follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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