Today, no one embodies the contemporary version of the "tangled web" notion more than Donald Trump and his Game of Thrones-style White House. In its current state, the Trump White House will be judged by history as the most disorganized and disjointed White House in modern times.
Its top leadership is a group of people -- Bannon, Priebus, Conway, Spicer, and Miller -- who don't know or trust each other. I've seen better coordination among five young guys at a pickup basketball game in the neighborhood than this gang of five political piranhas. Theirs is not a battle-tested team who have worked together in the trenches; it's just a campaign "trail mix" of people who want their share of the political bounty and spoils from the pirate ship Trump.
There's a problem with this dysfunctional group being led by someone with no experience in government: Mr. Trump seems to think that government comes with "out of the box" solutions.
Here's the rub: understanding government and having real responsibility are vastly different from running a business. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was very good at both running a multinational business and a large government, was the exception -- not the rule.
Mr. Trump, I did this for eight years -- you've been trying to do it for five weeks. I urge you to talk with some serious experienced people who have actually run a local, state, or federal government. They will probably tell you much of what I'll point out to you now.
One of the most disturbing aspects of your approach so far is its complete lack of respect for any semblance of process and procedure in making policy, or awareness of what true public service means. Just saying you're different or unconventional or that you plan to shake things up is not enough. That's not a strategy for policy change -- that's a philosophy of behavior. Your communications director, Sean Spicer, is starting to remind people of "Captain Queeg" with his crackdown
on White House leakers. Who really did take those strawberries?
Here is some real talk. Your administration is not "running like a fine tuned machine
" -- it is belching fear, leaking information, and backfiring like a clunker. You and your administration are at risk of getting tangled in the web you're weaving. Sir Walter Scott was a great poet, but only Shakespeare could have written a more compelling tragicomedy for our times. Alas, he only wrote for the stage, and while you are an impressive performer, unfortunately, you seem not to have figured out that governing is real life.
I have some advice, given in sincerity and taken from my years as the mayor of one of our country's leading cities, about basic government management.
1. You got your crowd therapy rally and ego boost in Florida
. You addressed the faithful
at CPAC. Now please, get back to work.
2. Please take a step back for reflection, conduct a real assessment of what has actually happened, with real news, in your first month in office.
3. Listen to some people outside of government, close friends or family to fully assess and reassess your top staff. I know loyalty is critical for you, but competence, team spirit and compatibility are equally important in government.
4. Admit to yourself that some campaign die-hards may be ill-suited for government work. You may need to make some tough decisions and changes to your team.
5. Admit to yourself that the buck stops with you. You chose your appointees, and if they don't perform well or get confirmed, you must accept full responsibility (no matter how unfair it seems). It's not the fault of the news media or Democrats or the people who didn't vote for you.
6. Take full stock of the situation and realize you may need to shuffle some staff people out of their current positions (this happens all the time in government after campaigns) and into new positions, while also bringing in some new and more experienced people that you may not fully know, or who may have differing opinions from you.
7. Settle yourself down, get into a daily work routine (with your staff and with Congress members of both parties), develop a legislative agenda with both parties (you can't just keep issuing Executive Orders every other day) and figure out a less bombastic and volatile way to communicate with the press and the public. It's frightening to many people who worry every day about what you might say next.
8. Re-read #1-7 every day.