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Trump White House Under New Management


U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with John Kelly after he was sworn in as White House Chief of Staff in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, July 31, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House is under new management. Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly has taken over as White House chief of staff after serving as the secretary for Homeland Security. Trump supporters and critics alike are wondering if Kelly, who was sworn in on Monday, can bring a sense of order to a White House that has been rocked by turmoil in recent weeks.

“He will do a spectacular job, I have no doubt, as chief of staff,” Trump said as he sat next to Kelly in the Oval Office. Trump later told a Cabinet meeting that Kelly’s appointment will get his administration back on track. “It is all about making America great again."

Kelly replaces Reince Priebus, who clashed with the president’s then-communications chief, Anthony Scaramucci. After fewer than two weeks working at the White House, Scaramucci was fired on Kelly’s first day on the job, a move seen as a signal that Kelly is serious about ending months of White House infighting and instituting some order and discipline in how the senior staff goes about its business.

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus takes his seat for a ceremony recognizing the first responders to the June 14 shooting involving Congressman Steve Scalise, at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 27, 2017.
Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus takes his seat for a ceremony recognizing the first responders to the June 14 shooting involving Congressman Steve Scalise, at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 27, 2017.

Empowering Kelly

Analysts and staffing experts believe Kelly’s appointment potentially could turn out to be a positive development.

“You can’t run the White House the way you run a Manhattan family real estate firm, with a whole bunch of advisers coming and going and no chain of command and nobody empowered to carry out your agenda,” said author Chris Whipple on a recent edition of VOA’s “Press Conference USA.”

Whipple is the author of The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency. He said that historically, the most effective chiefs of staff were empowered by the president they served.

“Every president learns, often the hard way, that you cannot govern effectively without empowering your White House chief of staff as first among equals in the White House to do a whole host of things,” Whipple told show host Carol Castiel. “But most importantly, to execute your agenda and to tell you what you don’t want to hear.”

WATCH: Trump Turns to Kelly to Take Control

Seeking a Turnaround

The president maintained in a Monday tweet that there was no chaos at the White House; but, during his first six months in office, Trump has been plagued by low poll ratings, the Russia investigation and a stalled congressional agenda that includes the recent health care defeat in the Senate.

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll found that only 10 percent of the voters surveyed believe that the administration is “running very well.” Sixty percent of those polled said the Trump White House was running either “very chaotically” or “somewhat chaotically."

Despite the weak polls, Trump continues to diligently court his political base, and many remain loyal.

“We just need to support President Trump. He is doing the best he can,” said a Trump supporter in Youngstown, Ohio.

A Tizzy over Twitter

Some analysts suggest Kelly may try to rein in the president, especially his habit of venting on Twitter; but, on Tuesday, the president tweeted that he sees it as “the only way for me to get the truth out.” Trump said the only ones who wanted him to quit social media were “the Fake News Media and Trump enemies.”

Trying to break the president of his Twitter habit could be a real challenge.

“President Trump feels he can get directly to the American public and share his thoughts,” said Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. “But he doesn’t quite grasp the many unintended consequences, legal and political, that those statements may have.”

Some analysts note that the president’s approval rating improves slightly when he stays off Twitter.

“If he could ever sort of discover some tranquility, I suspect that the public might be a little more forgiving of him, but that has not happened a whole lot during his presidency,” said University of Virginia analyst Kyle Kondik.

Kelly’s appointment comes a time when even some Republicans are expressing alarm about the course of the Trump presidency. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush’s top political strategist, argued that Trump's recent criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was “unfair” and “stupid.”

Rove warned that if Trump continued his “self-destructive behavior,” he could “blast his presidency to bits” before the end of the year.

Kelly now joins Trump in the public spotlight as the 45th president looks to regain his political footing after a difficult first six months.

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    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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