President Trump has received well-deserved praise for outstanding cabinet appointments, after installing well-qualified figures at major federal departments. His White House staff selections, however, have been far less appropriate, contributing to a lack of focus in the administration’s early days.
Thirty years ago, my comprehensive history of key presidential aides, THE SHADOW PRESIDENTS, laid out key rules for White House staffers; unfortunately, the Trump team has violated all of them. For instance, successful aides always pursue a “passion for anonymity” whereas assistants like Steve Bannon and Kelly Anne Conway display a passion for publicity. Successful aides must possess the stature to stand up to the boss, telling him “no” when appropriate, but Trump’s inner circle can’t curb his unhelpful instincts to wage distracting twitter wars.
In order to succeed with his ambitious agenda, the president needs more formidable assistants with stronger backbone behind the scenes, who draw less attention to themselves in the media.