For all of the Trump administration’s successes, his administration could be many times more successful if it weren’t for two key shortcomings.
A reporter’s question to President Donald Trump on Sept. 1 sounded innocuous: "Do you have a message for Poland on the 80th anniversary of World War II?"
"I do have a great message for Poland," Trump replied in front of TV cameras. "And we have Mike Pence, our vice president, is just about landing right now. And he is representing me. I look forward to being there soon. But I just want to congratulate Poland. It’s a great country with great people. We also have many Polish people in our country; it could be 8 million."
To clarify: The president appears to have congratulated Poland on the anniversary of its invasion by Nazi Germany.
For all of the Trump administration’s successes so far — chief among them a robust economy — his administration could be many times more successful if it weren’t for two key shortcomings: Trump can’t keep a solid staff of experts, and he speaks more than he listens.
A 2016 article in Politico magazine, during the election campaign, tried to delve into Trump’s skill and technique as a boss. Among the findings: He was a good boss. Blanche Sprague, a former Trump executive, called him "very empathetic" and "one of the kindest, most considerate people in the world."
Barbara Res, a project manager for Trump Tower, called him "very smart" and "very, very confident," and he weighed the expertise of others in his decision-making.
Trump’s intelligence, instinct and sheer energetic drive propelled him to success in the business world. Voters looked forward to how he would apply those skills to governing. While those same skills might work in certain situations, if Trump is to successfully run the most powerful nation on the planet, he must rely more often on a team of reliable experts.
Perhaps the most disconcerting departure so far was that of retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as the nation’s defense secretary, but last week there was another departure — National Security Adviser John Bolton. Regardless of how you feel about Bolton, he’s become another staff-turnover casualty.
The Brookings Institution, while obviously left-leaning, has kept an accurate track of which White House employees have been leaving and as of last week, Trump’s "A" team — identified as 65 senior-level advisers in the executive office — has experienced a 77% turnover rate.
While the president has every right to hire and fire whomever he chooses, he has an obligation to keep an expert staff — and one he will listen to.
We can understand the difficulties in working for and with a force of nature such as Donald Trump. But the current chaos in the White House is fueled in no small part by the president himself.
It doesn’t have to be like that. It shouldn’t be like that. For the sake and success of our nation, order must be restored.
This editorial first appeared in the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, a sister paper with GateHouse Media.