Non-elected staff who elect themselves “president”
As someone who occasionally falls on the conservative-libertarian side of the world, I always want President BidenJoe BidenHouse Passes Trillion Infrastructure Bill, Advances Social Spending Plan Virginia Democrats Admit Loss of State House Liberals, Moderate Strike Deal on Order of Biden day, paving the way for MORE votes succeed, because if he succeeds as president of all Americans, then our nation succeeds.
At this point, during his inaugural address, Biden said, “Yet listen to me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunity. And I promise you this: I will be a president for all Americans. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as I do for those who did.
I sincerely believe the chairman meant what he said. The question is, do all of his staff and within his inner circle agree with this unifying American sentiment? We are now living in increasingly toxic political times, so it would be safe to assume that some of the President’s closest do not want to be part of this Pollyannaish, this sweetness and would metaphorically prefer to walk down the throats of those they are in. ‘oppose.
Since this is a possibility, two other questions logically come to mind: What influence do these people have on the president? And what autonomy do they have to enact policies?
I suspect that even most Democrats, at least privately, would admit that Biden’s White House has been sailing rough waters lately and that the president doesn’t always come across as the captain of his own ship. If he removes his hand from the bar every now and then, who grabs it – and does that person believe in his mind that he knows better than President Biden?
Without a doubt, since the administration of George Washington, there have always been members of the presidential staff who believe themselves to be smarter and more capable than the President himself. Leaving aside this usually delusional pride, we come to the most relevant fact: The elected American people have said selfish staff members to absolutely nothing.
But, given that this thought process apparently takes place every now and then in the West Wing, we have three relatively recent examples to ponder.
The first took place when, on March 30, 1981, Ronald Reagan was shot dead during an assassination attempt. As Richard V. Allen, National Security Advisor to President Reagan at the time, correctly told the Washington Post on March 25, 2011:
“In the hours following the shooting, as medics fought to save the president and journalists demanded information, Secretary of State Alexander Haig repeatedly insisted – wrongly – that he was at the head of the federal government.
“Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, vice president and secretary of state, in that order, and if the president decides he wants to hand over the helm to the vice president, he will,” Haig explained. to reporters in the White House press room, apparently forgetting that the Speaker of the House and the Speaker pro tempore of the Senate come before the Secretary of State in order of succession. And then, in a dozen words that would become famous, he said, “From now on, I’m in control here in the White House.
“… That blurted out statement became a classic moment in Washington – and one that would end Haig’s own presidential aptitude. A powerful Cabinet Secretary had made a shocking mistake during a national crisis that demanded his calm and command. “
Worse than that, Haig appeared as a “Dr. Strangelove” to a number of Americans during this surreal moment, and likely petrified many of them.
Next on the list, we stay with the Reagan White House and return to the feud between Chief of Staff Don Regan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. Unsurprisingly, it was a battle easily won by a first lady who knew exactly how to protect her husband from overly ambitious staff. (Clearly, I worked in the Reagan White House during this time as a writer. While I was there, some thought Regan believed himself to be either the “co-chair” or the “prime minister of the country “.)
Before Nancy Reagan kicked him out of the White House, the besieged chief of staff attempted to tell the media that she was the one with too much power. Ms Reagan immediately shredded this charge with humor when, in front of an audience of editors, she said with a laugh: “This morning I had planned to clarify the US-Soviet differences on intermediate-range missiles, but I decided on Ronnie’s Sock Drawer instead. Game, set and goodbye Mr. Co-President.
Finally, we come to an anecdote from Bob Woodward’s bestseller of 1996 recounting the election between the president Bill clintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonVoters oppose Joe Manchin infrastructure hostage and blue collar exodus Georgia Secretary of State: Trump “had no idea how elections work” MORE and Senator Bob Dole, titled “The Choice”.
While I’m not impartial – I worked for Dole, after the Senate, as Director of Communications and got to know Clinton and Woodward – I truly believe the book captures some of the best political back and forths. all time.
And in this book, we learn that Clinton had his share of staff members or close guys who apparently believed they could do his job much better than him. Woodward said: “Many of his relatives had rebelled and denounced him, providing the media with unflattering accounts of his decision making. … It was one thing that this advice was given in private. It was quite another for it to appear in print, as those unflattering tales and too many others had done. In fact, the harshest and most authoritative criticism of his administration had often been provided not by his opponents or the Republicans. It came from those around him, even his wife and sometimes vice-president. Clinton told a friend that he was paying a terrible price because of the frustration of others who had their own ideas of how to do his job. Who could he trust? “
Who could he trust, indeed?
Conservative, libertarian or not, I think Clinton is the most successful president of the modern era. And yet, even with his exceptional brain power and communication skills, he was still plagued by this Washington White House-born disease: staff members and friends around him who believe themselves to be smarter than the President and who may be inclined to unilaterally make decisions based on this belief.
Like Nancy Reagan with her “Ronnie,” there is no doubt that the first lady Jill bidenJill BidenOvernight Defense & National Security – Washington Gathers for Colin Powell’s Funeral Son Pays Emotional Tribute to Colin Powell in Trucker Service Overthrows longtime NJ Senate Speaker with next to nothing – here’s how MORE has her husband’s back – as she should.
While history has recounted a number of “legends in their own mind” about White House staff, there can and should only be one President of the United States at a time. Right now it’s Joe Biden.
Douglas MacKinnon, political and communications consultant, was a White House writer for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, and a former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.