It is amazing to consider how much Donald Trump has accomplished in his first term despite being under constant assault from the administrative state, the Left, and Democratic media propagandists from day one. It has to be one of the most successful first terms for a Republican president in generations, from tax cuts to judges, to overall economic numbers. This outsider came in and accomplished more in three years than the D.C. crowd accomplished in decades—above all exposing the system rigged against the American people and also highlighting the corruption and incompetence of Washington, D.C.
Now we have to accept that Trump will always be under attack while he’s in office—from the Left and the MSM—and there is nothing that can be done about that. But Trump certainly can do more to stem the tide of the attacks that come at him from within his own circle. In his second term, if he wants to be more successful or even just get some relief from the grind, Trump needs to focus more on staffing.
All of the kerfuffle about John Bolton’s book manuscript has highlighted, yet again, the Achilles heel of the Trump Administration: personnel.
Just think about how many of the problems we’ve seen unfold over the previous three years, especially in the Ukraine controversy, might have been avoided through better personnel decisions.
Think about the situation with the miserable human giraffe, James Comey. Trump could have, should have, fired Comey the very first day he was sworn in. He didn’t. And the decision to keep him on led directly to the witchhunt led by Robert Mueller and his partisan pack of wolves. The Trump team was advised, early on, to clean house at the NSC, but didn’t like it should have and here we are with Lt. Colonel Humpty Dumpty Vindman, Dr. Fiona Hill and others working to undermine the duly elected President of the United States. Repeatedly, time and time again people being brought in to testify against Trump were people that should never have been there in the first place.
How did this happen? First, let’s face it: Trump’s strongest selling point was and remains his status as an outsider. He is absolutely correct in denouncing the swamp and the status quo inside the D.C. ecosystem, which is rigged against the American people. But by being an outsider, there was a steep learning curve in understanding how to navigate the place. I can say with a certain amount of assurance that Trump knew enough to know that D.C. was very bad, yet he did not understand quite how bad. I think that he is firmly convinced now that D.C. is far, far worse than even he imagined.
There is a massive administrative state that is set firmly against Trump; he is an existential threat to its existence. But he did not fully understand that when it perceived him as a threat it would viciously attack and seek to destroy him, the duly elected head of the executive branch.
But add to that dynamic the fact that Johnny DeStefano was installed as the head of presidential personnel. I’ll be there first to tell you that Johnny is a nice guy, that you can have a few laughs over a drink with him. But conservative? Not even close. It’s hard to even define him as a moderate, but you can be absolutely assured that DeStefano is not America First. Never has been, never will be. He is an establishment Republican, a swamp creature. And for years he was running personnel decisions at the White House for the various departments and for ambassadorships (we have him to thank for Gordon Sondland).
Consider there were 7,000 Plum Book positions, of which a certain percentage were low-level appointees. How many rockstar America First types do you think were let through during DeStefano’s tenure? Not many.
This entire personnel dynamic needs to change in Trump’s second term. It must be the president’s top priority on the first day of his second term. He needs to appoint an America First ally at the Presidential Personnel Office and let that person clean house. That person needs to bring in his or her team and be empowered to audit every remaining appointee throughout the Administration. Decisions about who to fire and who to retain need to be based on that person’s recommendations and conversations with the president.
It is only in this way that Trump can then reshape his personnel so that he is absolutely in control of it. There should be no more unforced errors on the personnel front.
Now imagine Trump does this. Imagine this impeachment farce completely blows up in Democrats’ faces (which seems likely) and they are punished at the ballot box in November. Republicans regain the House, keep the Senate. and Trump starts placing more America First types inside the various departments and agencies. Just imagine what he could accomplish with all of those dynamics in place.