The installation of a new chief of staff and the firing of a communications director on Monday could reflect continuing chaos in a White House run by novices. But we have decided to hold out the hope that the latest moves, the installation of Gen. John Francis Kelly in the West Wing and the firing of Wall Street bomb-thrower Anthony Scaramucci, represent the introduction, at last, of order.
Scaramucci needed firing. The only argument against it was the weak one that he'd been on the job less than two weeks. The hedge fund millionaire was quick-witted and sharp in his press briefing, but otherwise did the exact opposite of what his job is supposed to do. He made it impossible for the White House to produce a clear message, and he promised to make it harder for the media to get answers.
He drowned out any coherent White House message with his intemperate, vulgar, and utterly idiotic interview with a liberal reporter at the New Yorker. He showed animosity towards transparency by decrying the "leak" of public information (his financial disclosure) and promising to fire most of the communications staff in an overzealous scorched-earth war on leaks.
Scaramucci also carried ethical baggage into an administration that doesn't need any more questions about foreign influence. The price Scaramucci got for selling his investment firm to the Chinese raised eyebrows and smelled of access-buying.
Kelly, by firing Scaramucci on his first day as chief of staff, gives us hope that he is the disciplined, and discipline-demanding Marine he has been made out to be. More importantly, we hope that Kelly took the job on the condition that he was actually in charge of the staff, and that he has the power to crack down hard and as he judges necessary on counterproductive drama.
Scaramucci was a damaging drama. So is the president's Twitter habit. Given the president's evident reverence for military brass, Kelly allows us the retain the hope that he can get the president to delete the Twitter app from his phone, and push his boss into using Twitter only as part of a controlled communications strategy. This would help Trump's agenda enormously by keeping him from getting in his own way, and stumbling badly, which is what happens in such situations. It would also help the country by keeping Trump from causing national or international incidents in 140 characters. Trump doesn't drink, but that doesn't mean temperance is one of his qualities.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday that "everybody at the White House" reports to Kelly. This is good news, as Kelly can, we hope, provide the "adult supervision" Reince Priebus could not, but which the Trump White House desperately needs.