The Rushmore Report: John Kelly Is a Good Choice, If Trump Empowers Him

Donald Trump has appointed John Kelly to be his new chief of staff. Kelly leaves the Department of Homeland Security and replaces Reince Priebus. This is a good appointment. It was clear that Priebus had lost control in the White House. The effort by newly appointed communications director, Anthony Scaramucci was gathering steam. It was clear something needed to change. And that wasn’t going to be Trump.

That said, Priebus deserved credit for sticking it out this long. One can only imagine how stressful it is to try and manage team Trump.

Still, Kelly is a good pick. A former Marine infantry officer who rose to four-star general, Kelly knows how to lead. Equally important, his penchant for plain speaking and results-oriented action is desperately needed. In addition, Trump clearly respects his new chief of staff, so he might be willing to listen to him. Kelly is also unlikely to engage in press-related antics.

But there’s one big question mark here. How much power will Trump give Kelly?

In the end, Priebus failed because Trump never gave him the authority to fire and hire. He lacked the ability to impose discipline on the troops. And that led to what we have witnessed for the last six months – a waltz of chaos at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But what now? How, for example, will Kelly deal with the staff? When he tries to stamp his authority as the president’s gatekeeper, he will need Trump’s support. Put simply, Kelly will need the authority to fire anyone who doesn’t defer to his decisions. If Kelly doesn’t have that command presence, he’ll fail before he begins.

About the Author

Tom Rogan is a writer for the Washington Examiner.

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