Yet again, President Trump’s trust has been betrayed: a cretin from the White House’s inner circle has leaked that Trump was advised not to congratulate former KGB Lt. Col. Vladimir Putin upon the Stalin-wannabe’s retaining his iron grip on the presidency of the Russian Federation.
Obviously, the leaker betrayed the president’s trust to ingratiate the swampcritters who disagree with Trump on this and every issue. The good news is, given how tightly held the information was, said leaker hasn’t covered his butt with the swamp but exposed it to Chief to Staff John Kelly.
Setting aside the question of whether said congratulations constitutes a strategic error or an instance of “keeping one’s enemies closer,” the pressing problem for the president is how to protect himself from the people he’s entrusted with what he rightly believes is the opportunity of a lifetime to serve a president of the United States on behalf of her sovereign citizenry.
Say what you will about President Obama’s appointees—and I, for one, do—one thing that cannot be said is they betrayed his trust and undermined him. It is not simply that they believed in Obama and his agenda, which they did (and do). President Trump, too, has people who believe in him and his agenda. Still, Obama’s appointees didn’t leak to inflict difficulties and indignities upon him. President Trump deserves the same from his appointees.
How to achieve it?
First, despite having never held public office, candidate Trump proved to be his own best political strategist. Unfortunately, President Trump’s elected responsibilities preclude him from micromanaging every single one of his slew of federal appointments. Thus, like President Obama, Trump needs assurances that his appointment process includes loyal supporters who believe in him, his agenda, and have the political intelligence and experience to identify and appoint equally committed people to fully and effectively staff his administration.
Second, President Trump faces a unique challenge, having campaigned on the promise to “drain the swamp” and now governing to fulfill it. His appointees must be immune to the swamp’s blandishments and barbs—especially from the corporate community and media elite, who daily reward disloyalty and punish loyalty to the president.
Despite this—indeed, because of it—presidential appointees must not accept a position cravenly to advance one’s governmental career or increase their “marketability” on K Street. Appointees must accept a position for the opportunity to help Trump “Make America Great Again.” If President Trump can do it while being reviled on an unprecedented scale, the least his appointees could do is emulate his fortitude in pursuit of their shared belief in American exceptionalism.
Of course, if, for whatever reason, an appointee concludes he can no longer serve the president, he should resign rather than remain for his own venal reasons.
Finally, a concomitant problem with President Trump’s appointments is the obstructionism of Senate Democrats in the confirmation process (or lack thereof).
For Democrats, this is a cynical “win-win” strategy: President Trump cannot have a fully staffed administration pursuing and implementing his policies; and Obama holdovers in the administration remain empowered to subvert and frustrate this President’s agenda. Thus, with alacrity the president should ensure every appointment not requiring Senate confirmation is in place and replacing their Obama-holdover equivalent; and, for appointees requiring confirmation, continue to keep building the case that the Senate Democrats’ unfair partisan obstruction is increasingly injurious to voters.
True, the incoming Trump administration faced historic challenges—including #TheResistance Democrats, hectoring NeverTrump conservatives, and media elite’s Russia-gate lie. Nonetheless, in fighting this and other battles, the first order of business is ending betrayals of the president’s trust by his appointees. Fortunately, the means to do so rest in the hands of President Trump’s best political strategist.