Wed, Feb 22, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Chaos in the White House: ‘There’s never been anything like this’

After the fastest, most furious week yet for the Trump administration, veteran politicians say they have never seen such turmoil or ineptitude

By David Smith and Ben Jacobs  /  The Guardian, WASHINGTON

Meanwhile, Bannon’s allies continue to rise in prominence.

Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant and former editor for Breitbart, has become a vocal surrogate in a series of TV and radio interviews, telling the BBC this week that Trump’s press conference performance was “fabulous.”

Miller, too, earned Trump’s praise and widespread scorn for his zealous defense of the president and for peddling a baseless claim about phantom illegal voting.

“He says things that would make movie villains blush,” Tyler said.

The problems have been amplified by Senate Democrats doing their utmost to drag out the confirmation process on many of Trump’s Cabinet choices.

Trump is not the first president to hit early turbulence, and Bill Galston, a former adviser to former US president Bill Clinton, recalled that “hardly anyone” of the new president’s staff in 1993 had been in the White House before.

Before too long, he said, Clinton recruited political veterans Leon Panetta and David Gergen, who had worked with the former US president administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

“You need people there who know how overwhelming it is to be in the White House with ‘incoming’ coming at you from all directions,” Galston said.

However, Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank, said that the Trump administration is not normal.

“I’ve consulted many people in town about analogies and comparisons and nobody can come up with any,” he said. “We appear to have a president who cannot distinguish chaos from order.”

In contrast, Trump’s allies contend that, for a non-politician learning on the job, he is doing well and playing the media like a fiddle.

“It’s like the beginning of any administration,” said Christopher Nixon Cox, who is well acquainted with Bannon and other members of Trump’s inner circle.

He compared Trump’s first month with Clinton’s, observing that critics also called those weeks “a disaster.”

“Every administration has its palace intrigues,” Nixon Cox said. “It’s hard to say he has any more or less. Given that we have social media and he’s a social media president, it could be we’re just more aware of what used to be kept behind closed doors. There will be good days and bad days, but it’s way too early to say it’s going to go off the rails.”

Cox, a financial adviser and grandson of Richard Nixon, added: “Fundamentally he’s going to be judged on the economy and whether he keeps peace around the world. I think it’s going to be a big success. We have to give him time.”

Tom Stewart, a member of Trump’s national security advisory council during the campaign, said that the president was “cunningly” manipulating the media, so that “his strong Cabinet will have a chance to make some meaningful reforms.”

Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist said Republicans are making good progress on their conservative agenda.

“The press and a lot of observers in Washington DC like to stop and look at a car accident and they miss that the traffic is continuing to drive past at 50mph,” he said.

Nevertheless, as Trump enters his second month, there will be many praying for a steadier hand and fewer tweets ending with exclamation marks.

“This can’t just stand,” said Rich Galen, former press secretary to vice president Dan Quayle. “It was kind of fun in the beginning watching the kids run around and bump into each other. Now they’ve got the keys to the car and it’s dangerous.”

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