Duty and Strategy Are the Only Things Holding John Kelly in His Job

Speaking of tensions in the White House…

Vanity Fair is running with a piece today exploring the thankless job of John Kelly, who took over as White House Chief of Staff when Reince Priebus was ousted in late July.

Kelly had to know taking over as presidential babysitter and fool wrangler would offer some distinct challenges.

Sources report the president is straining against the discipline Kelly has attempted to enact within the White House.

According to conversations with four prominent Republicans close to the White House, Trump has grown frustrated with Kelly in recent weeks at what he sees as Kelly’s highhandedness. “They’re fighting a lot,” one source explained. The most recent flashpoint was Kelly’s decision late last month to reassign Peter Navarro, Trump’s nationalist trade adviser, to report to Gary Cohn, without first clearing it with Trump. According to two sources familiar with the matter, Navarro bumped into Trump in the West Wing and explained that Kelly had reassigned him to work for Cohn, which was news to the president. “Trump was like, what the f**k? He told Navarro, ‘You’re my guy and hang in there,’” said a source briefed on the conversation. The source said Trump has taken up the matter with Kelly.

And I can only imagine how that conversation went.

Trump is a spoiled child, used to getting his way, and John Kelly has taken on the Daddy role that Fred Trump apparently neglected in little Donnie’s formative years.

Were Trump 7, rather than 71, having a strong male mentor might have taken hold, or as they say in my neck of the woods: If I’d gotten ya when you were a pup, I could’ve done something with ya. Now you’re just ruint.

It may be too late to expect Trump to begin acting like a responsible adult, especially when his base holds his bumbling idiocy in such high regard.

For his part, Kelly’s patience is being tested by Trump almost daily. In September, Kelly was photographed face-palming when Trump threatened to wipe out North Korea during a U.N. speech in which the president called Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man.” Last week, Kelly struggled to contain Trump’s rage after it was reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called his boss a “moron” during a national security meeting. How long Kelly lasts in the job has become a topic of speculation in the West Wing. “He doesn’t love this job. He’s doing it as a duty for the country,” one person close to Kelly said. According to two sources, one name being floated as a possible replacement is real-estate developer and Trump’s longtime friend Tom Barrack. But Trump has moved to quiet the talk. He told a Republican yesterday during a phone conversation that it is “nonsense” that Barrack would replace Kelly. Trump is said to fear the optics of losing Kelly at a time when other officials, from Tillerson to Cohn, have contemplated resigning.

The unusually high turnover rate, either by firing or resignation in the Trump White House, with less than a year into the administration seems to lend a bit of credence to those thoughts.

For his part, Trump is boasting that Kelly has said he likes this job better than anything he’s ever done.

Yeah. No.

There are alliances forming within the Cabinet, suggesting that there is not only an effort to control the chaos, but also a growing impatience with a Commander-in-Chief who walked into what is arguably the most difficult job in the world and thinks he can run it from a reality TV script.

The Vanity Fair piece goes on to talk about Kelly’s efforts to keep Trump on task, focused on a tax reform plan, the Iran nuclear deal (which Kelly is said to want to keep in place, unfortunately), dealing with North Korea without starting an international incident, and putting together a strategy on Mar-a-Lago.

Specifically, Kelly wants to put a halt to Trump getting his ego fix by allowing friends and club members to schmooze him on policy, as Trump is expected to be spending more time at the “winter White House” in the coming months.

Back in February, as the piece points out, Trump turned the dining room of the resort into an open-air Situation Room, discussing the test-firing of a North Korean ballistic missile with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in full view and earshot of other diners and waitstaff.

Right now, it seems Kelly’s strategy will be to keep Trump out of the dining room, away from the sycophants who are paying doubled membership prices to get close to the president.

Yeah, good luck with that, Sir.