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Can John Kelly fix the Trump administration? Can anyone?


Dara Lind and Andrew Prokop join Matt to talk about Kelly's record as DHS Secretary and Trump's bizarre Twitter feud with Mitch McConnell.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
In is always on always unlisted. You know places to go before global warming gets to ban, is this: where we talk about my brilliant strategy to save the polar bears by airlift in all of them to Antarctica and having to meet the penguins, also fuck penguins hello, want them to another episode of the weeds on the box media podcast network on Matthew, Iglesias joining me today. We have that broke up and DORA Lynde two of them, the best minds in our office on and political matters, we're gonna talk about.
John Kelly, knew what has chief of staff and his efforts to bring organization and coherence to the Trump administration which had been pretty successful so far right, wildly successful he's not at all in a twitter feud with the set of majority leader at you know. Obviously, part of sort of recent news from the Trump White has been there s Ding Twitter battle with North Korea EM. If you, if you're interested in like the real substance of the North Korea issue, I would really recommend yesterday's episode of Worldly, which does into this with some. We'll canna expertise on the military and foreign policy issues, as recline has a great interview on an issue with Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado about tuna dysfunction up there, but I think the three of us really want to talk about the Trump White House. How that operation is worth
king, what happened to me was tat. I was about to hand out the door and go on vacation when we heard that whence grievous was out as chief of staff, that John Kelly was coming in and the sort of immediate takes on that a kind of a general atmosphere- this was welcome, largely because I'm in previous was obviously not effective and that were also proposing with almost anybody seemed like a good idea. John Kelly is a general we deliver a lot of deference in respect to the uniform military. The United States, particularly its flag officers, and Kelly was also perceived as a real sort of whether you
like it or not. Trump administration. Success story, I'm on a lot of friends from his seem to be flailing, but I think the general perception is that Trump wanted a kind of harsh immigration. Foresman crackdown trump has gotten a harsh crack down. John Kelly up General was put in charge of homeland security and he did what a cabinet secretary is supposed to do. I e advanced the president's vision without creating too much of a but weird political head aches, so it kind of it. It seemed like a good fit. I think, for a lot of people in a lot of ways: Abbot, but DORA you usually cover immigration policy. Unlike most of the people who were so report for two opine Whitehouse Organization- and I think you ve- had a genuine innovation perspective, unlike what what actually
happened in romance agreement. How or where they able to accomplish this sort of effective implementation of the immigration crackdown great. So I think it's worth going back to before. Tromp was inaugurated when he was selecting cabinet officials, a theme that kind of came up I am again was the trump wanted people who look the part right. He wanted Rex, tillers and secretary of State cause Rex tellers and looked like a you know like solid diplomatic leader. He want these. These guys, not only who were generals, but who were the stereotypical you no real talk, don't take any guff from anybody. Independent minded generals, and that's really a personality assessment. It's not an assessment of Don Kelly's record. It's not an assessment of my cleanse record for that matter. I've who is kind of a similar mode
Maude, it's mostly a well. We don't know a lot about what these guys actually did when they were in the military by when they testify before Congress. There really combative with Congress, so that makes them seem, like their tough minded, an independent so that basically, the assessment that anybody had of John Kelly me included when he started as Homeland Security secretary bite. What became clear was that Kelly sees himself as a soldier's general. That was something he highlighted time and again when he was being confirmed it something that really became a dominant theme in his public. Your answers, because a lot of what John Kelly didn't as public appearances as Homeland Security Secretary was defending the work of the field, agents of customs and border protection officials who were too in people over the weekend of the travel ban of ice agent. Who were being accused of taking these very aggressive tactics to arrest and attain emigrants and yo
tell you step very easily into the mould of I just watched a few good man again night and there's a lot of you want me on that? Well, you need me on that wall in John Kelly's rhetoric, that there are things that need to happen to preserve the security of America and that any questioning of them the public sphere is tantamount to undermining the job that these people have set out to do, and so that meant that Kelly kind of came off as a good defender of the Trump agenda, which is one of the things that trumpet looks for in officials right. He wants people who the one to be and defend him, but it also was very distinct from leading an actual organization when you're just telling your people, you can do what you want. I will defend you after the fact that very very different from this the idea that people had when John kill you got taken into the White House that he was going to tell trump what he couldn't could not do an enemy,
there's something usual: alignment in Department of Homeland Security in the immigration Foresman agencies between sort of what the bureaucracy will do, if told that leadership will have their backs, no matter what they do, and what Donald Trump actually wants to see happen ride, so that, like Donald Trump, would not want Scott prove it to head down to EPA regional offices and be like you guys, are awesome, you're on the front lines of the war against pollution, whatever you go out and do work and have your backs that would be a trompe sounding sounding thing to say, but the policy results of telling EPA officials like the gloves are coming off is going to be like not what Trump wants, because he he wants. The gloves Remo
on environmental enforcement and lots of other areas. If you, if you go to you know, but rather that the rank and file people at some of the financial market, regulators- and you just tell them like hey guys- I go do whatever they're gonna just like not do that much reality. Just like do given. Agencies have different internal personalities and the the sort of back story of ice and border patrol had been that the Obama administration had been in some substantive conflicts, with the rank and file members and Trump Trump, as a policy agenda wanted to just sort of, cut them loose, but he doesn't it's only Trump once the whole government just because right now. I think that this also plays into the understanding problem right. It's not that the age ass is has more people in appointed positions Pino when Kelly is named chief of staff. There was a big question about ok, who was going to be the next Wednesday,
Secretary- and you know there is a deputy in place who was duly promoted, but there are still a lot of other positions in their include. for that matter, head of ice that are still not filled, but when you have you know, if you kind of allow agencies to proceed at their own momentum, In most cases, they are not that they are not going to eat or, as you were saying, a line with what the administration is wanted them to do anyway. I just I spent a bunch of last week down in Texas with border patrol agents and like they don't see themselves to be clear as a military or paramilitary organisation? They see themselves as a professionalized law enforcement agency by you know law enforcement as well, that there is definitely a step and of american thigh, including from President Trout from attorney general sessions, etc that the real way to allow law enforcement to protect communities is to give the maximum tactical latitude to go after the bad news, and so you know
when you think of Kelly successes as a matter of taking the gloves off again the idea that he was then going to be a disciplinarian is it not? It was not totally unfounded right. We have heard reporting since Kelly came into office, that he thinks of his job is controlling the aperture of information. They can get to the president that he is putting more restrictions on who can visit that he's, putting more restrictions on who can read. You know who can send things for the president to read, but it's not that he is he he doesn't have a reputation or if he does it's not from her when security of reining in people who don't want to be Randy. But can I just ask for people who are in in meshed in the details of some policy every day. There is this perception. At least a Kelly has been a success, speak that youth alluded to
and so how exactly would you define the success he has or at least why he is perceived as a success like what has he actually done too that reputation, so the Trump administration likes to throw out that apprehensions of people crossing the? U S, Mexico border without papers plummeted in the months after his inauguration. That's true! They are now creeping back up and it's gonna be interesting to see whether should that upward trend continue, the administration, knowledge. Is that or whether it just pretends that it? You know whether it just keeps using these now months old stats to make it seem like a success. But is that about fewer people coming in the first place? Or is it about some more kind of successful cracking down effort? And feared by John Kelly. So I think that he actually is fair to say that a lot of this was that Donald Trump before becoming elected and before getting elect before going on here. and then in the first weeks of his administration,
he was signing. All of these executive orders did lay out this very aggressive agenda for, if you, the: U S without papers, you will be detained, you'll be port it. You will not have a good chance to plead asylum. I do think that there is evidence that people were very area of coming to the? U S when they thought that might be the case and that part of the reason for it creeping back up, especially because a lot of the kind of movement both downward at the first part of the year and now upward, has been of family units of central american families. Come into the Eu S, almost all of whom please while in when they get here. So you know it's fair to say that there is an element of intimidation. Their vit hasn't been
followed through with policy in all cases, and that's not necessarily John Kelly's fault. There's a there's. This little thing called international law that really aggressively implementing the trumpet demonstrations agenda at the border with would have run a foul of, and they just haven't, figured out how to square that yet and if the metric is apprehensions following then, theoretically, it could just be more. People
could be getting it right area. That is very work that way that is being adequate. You I mean I could, if lake, if this were the weeds immigration addition, I would totally go into the split between the people who are trying to be caught and the people who are trying not to be caught and in our questions of effectiveness, rate of that, but, like its generally agreed that there really are fewer people coming in its generally agreed that trumps rhetoric and promises, VIT Kelly was, you know, was originally tasked with had something to do with that. I don't think that's John Kelly's job, but I think that its, I think that that's kind of where success is being measured. This week there has been a little bit of of noise because it is now coming out the actual deportations of immigrants have been down, and I think that a lot of people certainly a lot of people on the left, who are sceptical of Obama's record on immigration enforcement, felt he was overly harsh, have been used
to save it, there hasn't been a big change, an immigration policy. That is not the case. I think that it is definitely clear that there has been more tactical aggression, in arresting entertaining detaining people who are in the? U S who have been living here? Who may have old criminal records, who may have Pass deportation orders varies a big bureaucratic log jam that prevents people from being deported quickly once there rested. That is not even John Kelly's responsibility. That's because immigration courts are part of the Department of Justice and nobody funds, immigration, courts commensurate ties, because there, Department of Justice, but I think that it's going to be trusting to see whether the reputation that Kelly benefited from over the first six months, is something that his successor is going to have to contend with. You know people thinking NATO troops not really doing anything, Obama didn't do. This is all fake news. I mean, I think, that this immigration court backlog thing now to me is
helping an end is the kind of thing that people should have paid more attention to, has the reality is that putting in a chief who what they are going to do is have the backs of rank and file official because the president has decided that on both the politics and the substance he wants to have the backs of rank and file officials. That's like the easiest thing in the world right like what every agency head wants is for the president to want them to just want to support the. Urgency staff right, like Rex Tiller sins job is so hard because the president doesn't want him to just like have the backs of State department diplomats through these constantly in this agonizing such weight But the Department of Homeland Security does a bunch of stuff other then run around arresting immigrants.
And you know you would want to see. I think, like the mark of an effective department of Homeland Security Secretary, would be making some kind discernible progress on those things. We know that the secret service in the late Obama years was being plagued with a bunch of like kind of weird misconduct, scandal, was that raising on questions there hasn't been. Some like big secret service were form coming down from John Kelly's D. Ass. We had a member of vice president pensive security. Detail that arrested, visiting prostitutes in Maryland seems to indicate That's the kind of issues. Systemic cultural issues there are continuing I don't know tee essay seems as terrible's ever adena, whose fault that is exactly, but that nothing kind of fixed their FEMA very interesting, critical part of the mission. We don't really know at this point we sort of benefited from a lack of a giant, natural disaster, but an area where a like, a general, a government professional someone who pay
Superbly. Like knows more than Donald Trump about things could have played like a really big role would have been, I think, talk innocent people and age see coming to the conclusion the real, limiting factor on how many undocumented people we can support and removed from the country? Mr President, it turns out, isn't how many people ice and border patrols sweep up it's, how many people, the immigration judges move through the court system. So, in addition to kind of what you said on the campaign trail, we need to get some funding through Congress to get this done and work it out on the hill. I mean that this kind of his hard, like getting the political them to focus its attention on boring kind of like through order. Funding questions in obscure agencies is is difficult work but, like that's the work of an effective government official
and I wouldn't say that Kelly Like failed at that, but he also didn't succeed at right like the v. The help that Donald me, I'm sort of glad he hasn't gotten it, because I disagree with them on the merits, but like the help he needs is someone to walk him and his team through like what the real issue is here and like. How can he Open the floodgates to deportation just sessions seems to be kind of plugin away at it a little bit because he knows not about immigration policy, but it's not like getting. It hasn't gotten done We support the rose, super strenuously disagree with you on and then there's like the good point areas now. I do want to push back on the idea that it would be at all fair to assume that any, the age S secretary with six months is going to be able to deal with what are pretty clearly systemic cultural problems at the age ass. I d just was never
Consider this apartment a lot of the agencies that are there never wanted to be there there's a lot of duplication of mission. There's a lot of duplication of oversight is still extremely in a poorly considered as a department. J Johnson was regarded pretty widely as the best data secretary, whose existence, with the possible exception of first Data Secretary Tom Ridge like had to create this thing Ex Nihilo bet J Johnson spend a lot of time. Trying to improve operations. Improve morale. Do a lot of the lake on sexy stuff. And was gone out and Johnson and tell you reportedly friends it. It's not implausible that, given more time in the in the office, Kelly could have done that. The thing is that that's not really what Donald Trump wanted from Kelly right. He wanted him around in high profile settings. He wanted him go on tv to defend Am I dont know if Kelly would have done a better job, given a better mandate from about our president? He did in a job with
mandate that he had and that's what Donald Trump considered excellent in Europe you're totally right that the problem here is that tunnel truck need someone to sit down and tell him here. The things that you actually need Congress for here are the ways that you can get Congress to do those things, it's an incredibly clear that John Kelly is not person John Kelly, has an attitude that is very common in them. Military of like politics ends. You know at the water s edge and he's kind of ported that into his domestic courier. He really doesn't like politics here, and particularly appear to respect Congress he's. U is always very frustrated as the ages praetorian meetings on the hill, because he'd say it's not my fault, that these people are getting deported, that you don't want to get deported its congress, his job to fix the law, and then they say. Well, we have these bills. That would in fact, keep these people from being deported and he would not be.
Where of them and in his office would say that, because the president wasn't going to sign them, he didn't support them. There's a lot of refusal to engage with this stuff that makes a legislative executive relationship work that other chiefs of staff have really dedicated themselves to including are in progress, but also included. Like Brahma Manual of lake. doing their job as making sure that the executive branch, in addition to what the cabinet is doing, is engaging effectively with Congress and that's a big problem for the trumpet demonstration in. So many of us had especial teacher professor who inspired us at some point who made learning something special units for people who have that kind of lifelong love of learning degree courses places just a sort of an unreal
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dangerous in internally, as you know, is plugging away on the wall. They ve they ve set contractors for the prototypes, because its massive contract somebody's challenged at the prototypes are gonna get built until fall. The problem here again is You know that the White House, instead of being intelligent about negotiating for Wall funding has twice now put out the budgetary documents that asked for a whole lot of money for the wall. Congress has made it clear that it's not spending a whole lot of money. The White House said welfare. And we don't want, whatever you're going to send us and will let the government shut down Congress has said. No, you won't, and you know it The White House is not has not yet bent entire on the eve of the next round of funding over That's healing authorization in September, but it's there and a whole lot of belief in Congress at the White House, is really willing to shut down the government to get the wall belt. Could a bet
chief of staff, have figured out a better strategy to get Congress to spend. You know a bit and a half dollars on this thing that members of Congress, you know things about borders occur, Eddie dont see as the most important aspect of it not clear to me. This one thing, though, read like this is where I think the John Kelly Reputation or the early optimist takes Sunshine Kelly had gone wrong, which is that, like Kelly, was an effective kind of trumpets, enabler right leg de chess did a lot of work towards building a wall, they didn't do was like take the coming into office. They just gonna. Have this political problem, which was a dull trumpet ran around country Tiger and we wanted to build wall. The wall building promise did not really make since there was enormous scepticism of it, I'm Capitol Hill, and so what you will.
Me, it read is like a like a three sixty review of the whole war situation right like that. What are the equities here like? What? What do we, as Trump ease the? What part of this do we care about right like? Are we worry and that people will think were not really tough on immigration, like is the wall a campaign device, as New Gingrich said it was? Do we have some issue with the contractors or were counting on their support? Do we think this is what Congress once he you know like really like assess the situation and develop, plan to achieve some kind of goals, but instead the whole trump kind of discourse on the wall has seemed to be built around like nobody wanting to admit that this, like offhand thing, Donald Trump, said a lot because people cheered for it it really makes sense, even though it's not like on health care or on taxes or million other things, the troll
the house has seen itself is like strictly bound by everything that Donald Trump ever set it at a campaign rally. So Kelly is like doing what Trump wants, but not necessarily what's good for her, and then I think I think that's what we started to see right is that, like the new John Kelly ERA has not addressed sort of the Republican Party like concerns about Donald Trump and his behaviour in his approach to the job he's just unlike rents, previous, it seems like no way trump by kind of bringing a Capitol Hill Republican perspective into the White House. That would beg him, whereas Kelly has like a nice like tough guy, face and likes and on the sidelines at these poor sprays and is just like telling Trump that, like it's fine
So I do want to say that I think that the white has as quietly moving to accept that it doesn't have to be a literal, concrete wall and the the has anyone told Donald Trump so you might be seen hereby- would throw a sixty bound bag of heroin and which we, listeners know is not actually is unreasonable. A thing, if not for that reason is done, thinks it is, but you know aid. I think that the things that they want Congress to fund are actually like, largely uncontroversial, like levy wall, which has saved Self Texas cities from flooding. But you know, I think, that I think we're all. agreement that it's a little bit ludicrous to assess the success of a cabinet secretary, six months into a term where his department, Understaffed and b, to think that that that success is a cabinet secretaries going to predict successes achieved staff. What I'm a bit more interested in is question of what does it mean that Donald Trump wanted someone who had a personality? the disciplinarian, and who is actually being disciplined and here's where
Andrew as someone who has kind of mood, or understanding of not only the personnel he's in Kremlin ology. In this White House, but also how those are actually affecting how policy gets made, then I do I'd be interested in your thoughts about how that shift the power dynamics of the White House and who has the president's ear or does it to have this person either in charge, or at least a higher profile? Will I dont know if there really was a master plan? Of course, you know brilliant strategic rationale of any kind behind appointing cow,
as chief of staff. I do think that it seems to have been a simple as that tromp was ready to get rid of previous, as were several of his family members and top advisers, and he moved on previous, and then he looked around for someone who could replace him in thought that John Kelly Had- or at least he perceived him as having done a good job, or at least looking like he was doing a good job and that he had this perception that pre
This was weak and that that was previously problem and that the way to solve that problem is to appoint someone, who's, tough and strong. And that's where John Telecoms, enemies of former general he's for the past six months been saying a bunch, tough things about the border in and stuff like that. But I mean if you, if you try to think about it more strategically, and you ask what have been the biggest problems of the Trump administration so far and is John Kelly qualified to solve them. One big problem has been that the legislative agenda has failed and he pretty clearly has no real experience.
or knowledge of how to come up with some sort of way to restart trumps, initially anyone, horror, retired Marie in general to help crafty tax reform compromise where, as I said, that doesn't make sense. Yes- and you know I would say second major problem. Is this enormous scandal and I don't really think that Kelly has any experience it helping. You know crisis pr, scandal, politics or legal defence, or anything like that, and one thing that he has been doing little bit is kind of at least trying to cut down on the constant turf wars among White House advisers. He got ready
Anthony scare Muti very quickly and damn it still. I don't know how much you can do. This white House is just so dysfunctional with so many warring care spite it is at least possible that he was kind of six or or at least stem improved somewhat. The internal turf. wars, and then I would say the fourth problem is: is kind of trump himself, his tweets going off message in things like that, and what we ve seen this week is that that is something that you know. The president does not want solved. So, of course, Kelly is not going to try and solve it's just going to be something he's going to try and deal with two half the present tweeting making statements about- you know it could be any topic in the news, derailing strategy, messaging and so forth. So
I dont really see a incredibly rosy future for Kelly as chief of staff by them. You know, maybe Well, good, I actually think he he can't prove us right of young, because it here's the thing went to trim. Clearly Donald Trump ideal version of himself is that he will operate as a somewhat independent force right. The duke that the winds praetor- concept was too like bring the congressional Republican Party into the Trump White House, till Ike Anime, this sort of machine. The Donald Trump would sit on the head of an trump himself, which is not like personally comfortable with that, where he was, he was not willing to be like Paul Ryan, slight figure head president tried he wants to be in the mix. He wants to speak his mind about things he wants
set the agenda, how he wants to do it, so you have models for president site that right, whether that sort of Bill Clinton in the translation error or its Dwight Eisenhower the fifty You have presidents who sort of veto cut loose from their their congressional parties it and do their own thing, but Trump has like two like huge problems there one is that peace. He doesn't know anything about public policy, so he can't drive an agenda that independent of congressional Republicans agenda because he couldn't formulate idea swayed and Bill Clinton really did not have that problem. The bill Clinton White House was perfectly capable of like drawing up little schemes to do this or that or conducting negotiations at arm's length with both parties congressional leaderships, because Bill Clinton himself was like
long time, governor of Arkansas had a policy want kind of personality and he had a big staff of guys, like Bruce, read a gene sparkling and substantive experts to to do that stuff and then try. Other problems that he's he's corrupt, like insanely corrupt, and he has this hotel and you see this is washing posts. Article about other room rates are like triple any other a tree hotel in the district, so their empty all the time but trumps Bennett, secretaries and big lobbyists keep like paying these inflated fees, cause they're trying to bribe the president, joint Eisenhower could operate independently of the Republican Party base because he had one world war two and had like an unimpeachable public reputation but trump on both of these friends. He needs congressional republicans to be in his Corner, because he needs protection, and he also needs them to like give give life to his agenda,
and I would also say he needs Republicans to keep control of Congress RAG Doll, trumps electoral fortunes and the Republican Party electoral fortunes are linked right now and there's been a lot of sort of. You know her bringing in hair pulling about. Why aren't more republicans, turning against Trump criticising him in say that maybe they should. But I think the reason why they're not is very clear. They think that the success of Donald Trump would be good for them, and the failure of Donald Trump as a president and even aiming more criticism at Donald Trump, which would lead to a more divided party, will end up hurting them in the twenty eighteen mitya.
and both Donald Trump, and which were conall and Paul Ryan, really really want the Republican Party to do well in the twenty Eightth Midterms, and I think what we ve seen is that Trump still remains enormously popular among the republican base. He is an important figure when it comes to motivating base, turn out and things like that, and so Trump really. You know he might be motivated by personal peak to start a self destructive war with Miss Mcconnell, but when he takes a step back and thinks about it, he'll know that the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen to him is for Democrats to take control of Congress in twenty eighteen, which would mean many more serious investigations subpoenas flying everywhere, and this is where the corruption thing plays in. If he
He has a lot that Congress could really be taking a much more active role in investigating, and maybe we will see this all out war between Trump and the Republican Party, but they do have very strong self preservation. Incentives to avoid waiting nets up objectively went from needs is a team to make that partnership work. It seems to me that it is an awkward partnership, but is it is extraordinarily powerful incentive as as Andrew, was laying out for it to work right that there is no there's, no vision I can see in which trump is a successful presidency
based on triangulated away from a democratic house majority starting and in twenty. Ninety, unlike this, is no way he he needs to be working with the House republican Caucus on things that keep them in office. You know and like passing enough policy to keep conservatives feeling like this, is working and also not passing things that are like two hideously unpopular and not just to me does not at all seem to be the John Kelly Direction, you know. I mean it's like it's like off on some home like wrong access of considering what what the problem is, that I think Trump enjoy some kind of thinks. It's cool. How, when House Democrats would come up to digest Secretary Kelly and be like hey. Why are you doing it this way? The Kelly would just be like fuck, you guys is the law and that's.
as far as it goes to dislike, brush off back bench, House Democrats be disorder. Who cares, but in general it's like not rare, for some members of Congress to some kind of problem with the way some agency is doing something and You normally need a more polite, practically sort away way of working through these kinds of things and want to say that, like we don't really know his cause Kelly's new to this, but it strikes me is telling that we are now like leaning into dislike weird trump bashing of management. On all, because it seems like the new you, no more cortical disciplined era does not put any kind of emphasis on this idea of like getting along with capital, help people said, has this idea of like overawing them with with tough talk, and I don't
I don't see any way that that's gonna work out well, so I think the question here is really is Kelly. an impossible position because there is no such thing as a good chief of staff for this president or his Kelly, a uniquely bad pick for the position. I think both things are true to some extent right. It's very clear that the things they die Trump really didn't like about since previous, where that runs grievous, sometimes told him to do things. He didn't want to do and sometimes told other people to do things. Trumped didn't want them to do like from really likes it when anybody can walk into the oval office or he can walk and anything else. He really doesn't like any idea that his tweets should be considered. You know it some kind of reflection of the policy of the federal government and should maybe be considered, or at least people should be informed, before he goes and bends transgender people from the military on Twitter. Those are things that no chief of staff could do. They make the White House Dysfunctional right trump. Just yesterday said that he doesn't like intelligence leaks.
but when their White House leaks about whose in whose out that those are coming from people who just want to show how much they love him and he's kind of honour by that, like that's a recipe for it is found, no White House in it, something that has always been part of trumps management style. He cultivates Patsy cultivates people warring for his attention, but I think that mats also getting to something really useful, which is that Kelly is protected. early allergic to politics. He really does not want to be mean everything he said during his what Harry three or was that he never wanted to be doing the exacting that he's doing right now and it's not clear that he's changed his mind. It appears that his honor count. less requires him to be doing this job because he thinks it's better, that he do it, then that he not do it for the country back. What that means is that trunk think that of himself as a unique political genius, he thinks that, because he pulled out his surprise election when they,
He has his finger on the pulse of Real America and that no one knows better than he does. What is actually going to succeed politically, and it's not clear that anyone could tell him that he is wrong about but John Kelly has no not only no information but no desire to tell him that he is wrong about that, because John Kelly doesn't actually why to make arguments about. What's going to work politically or not he's when there were all these cabinet those who were generals or ex generals there was this concern about military civilian relations by generals. Think of themselves as subordinate to Vivian military leadership right, the president is the commander in chief and most six ass for generals in the last several decades have not been are not successful because they tell the White House no break do what we want to do so it makes a certain amount of sends. The John Kelly is going to see his job as taking the president's orders and
You know, making sure that there are implemented in the best way possible, but it's really hard. imagine a world where John They all of a sudden. Now that he's in the White House goes, I'm gonna get my hands dirty and do a bunch of politics, because it's in the long term interest of this person who doesn't care about long term interest, making next move with a beautiful website from school airspace, I don't know you know what it is. You do it, but if you, if you ve, got a small business if you got a restaurant, if your creative professional, if you ve, got some kind of project or hobby, that your launching if you just, I know somebody and organization to community that needs a website. Your answer for how to build a great looking website is right here and it's called square space. They ve got great profession, we'll templates that can make you a professional and design great, looking website and incredibly easy to use, It got, drag and drop. Sort of. What you see is what you get you don't need to know code, but it's also incredibly powerful. If you do have any little kind of things.
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its Mcconnell and Paul Ryan, and that he's he why to be seen as an outsider, and you know that's that makes sense if, if to fire the head of the hour and see as our chief of staff and bring in a general with no political experience at all, if you want to reposition yourself and be seen as an outsider. Furthermore, I think it also makes a lot of sense. That Trump is unhappy with the political judgment and strategy of congressional Republican. So far, the it wasn't Donald Trump who told Paul Ryan to write a hideously unpopular healthcare bill, and it wasn't our trump who came up with these
Gee that their that Congress should repeal Obamacare first and do tax reform. Second, he sat he sorted signed onto that strategy because it was presented to him by the suppose it geniuses of Congress that that was the strategy most likely to succeed, and I think he somewhat rightly feels burnt by relying on people like Ryan's previous Paul, Ryan and Mcconnell, and their political strategy and advice. So far, which seems to have just left him without major legislative accomplishments in and having yoke himself to a healthcare bill, that was really really talks, but this is why I too me the guy who Trump needed was problem.
Chris Christie right that. I think that the impulses that drove Trump in this direction makes sense, as you say, but the thin it certain effective way of addressing, because the problem, I think the problem as Trump has framed. It is that previous was like to soft unconventional Republicans and he needs till. I get tough with them. But if you look like why these things happen, read the tramp in his intuitive outsider anyway, correctly calculated that Paul Ryan strategy on this healthcare was wrong. That, if you listen to the unfiltered trump like he said they should do taxes before they do healthcare, and he correctly assess that this republican healthcare plan was mean and would be unpopular, but trumped do not
have the substantive knowledge to like a factor, wait his own ideas on these subjects. He seems to have gotten tracked by Paul Ryan into believing that there were some extrinsic reason that they had to do: healthcare first, which isn't true, but from said several times that Kennicott statutorily they had to do the healthcare legislation. First, like a politician would be able to tell Donald Trump like no down like that's, not right like your right. If you want them to do tat, one. First like we should say that we should find some back ventures who agree with you and like have them over for supper. You know like we should make this actually happen and on health care too. He was sucked into this healthcare framework because he did not have any ability to put forward ideas spread, so you sit there. He was like heave, he was
acting like a quorum court outsider in that he would offer this sideline commentary that were every once in a while with Papa. This is actually a terrible bell, but then he's like throwing a party on the rose garden to celebrate it. and what he needs is someone who can help him time. Some of these notions into like something you could do, but instead he's brought in someone who has a military background like he doesn't, have relevant expertise or or knowledge into these areas, or self confidence should even be stuck with the same kind of dependency. Righted Meanwhile, Trump is like a lobbying. These twitter grenades, that much Mcconnell demand doing anything to take the reins of the tax reform process and like make this, a White House led effort that will sir
trumps political agenda, their standing back their hoping that Congress sorts out this budget problem there maybe there's gonna, be a tax bill. Maybe they won't be. I mean I, I kind of think Republicans can live added together impasse attacks cut, but Trump is not like doing anything to to make that happen and you would never in a million years. Think of John Kelly as like the guy. You would choose to get this done. That's on at all his his professional ground- and there were moments when they were actually floating people who would be more suitable for this kind of thing likely Gary cone? Who I mean? I think there are a lot of problems with, but like a hundred percent, believe that Caricom could write a tax bill I don't know what I mean beyond like generating headlines like trumps and outside it. Now, since I go K, trumps, an outsider belike now, it's Monday, but what? What does that mean and Lincoln system means he's waiting for bills to suck
so, I think the Christmas sleeping is kind of blowing my mind here, and maybe I misreading this, and you can tell me if I have totally misunderstood New Jersey politics over the last decade, but why? When you're saying that trumpeted Chris Christie, you're actually saying trumped needed? First turn. Chris Christie right the dude, who was lake, going around being addicted teachers, but would then You know, at the end of the session, make sure that the democratic led letters Later- was passing a pensioner form Bell. Unlike actually you know getting that majority together in signing the bill over the course of his governorship Chris Christie. His kind of it looks like in love with this idea of himself as a culture war hero you know and is now at the point or lake he despite dismal. And popularity in total inability to get anything done. His leg fuck you guys I'm going to this other closed state beach, that you know it almost, seems as if the seductive power of being seen in
media. As a representative of the interests of a particular group of people and being seen as a charismatic figure, is so powerful vat even someone who understands the ins and outs of politics can be in a kind of it into believing that vice you're charisma, the things that they want to happen will happen or if they dont happened. Won't personally suffer the consequences of them. I think that its act a very useful comparison. When we think about someone like Donald Trump, who didn't have any experience with the ins and outs of politics, but here political career started with this wild charismatic success. I think Christie himself is probably too damaged right now, but
I think what mats getting at is something some sort of person in the Christie model, someone who has who understands politics, and yet who is not to yoked to the congressional leadership in Washington or two, The conservative movement in general, someone who is more of a creative thinker and and and the people who come to mind from that are sort of blue State Operative SAM there's another. Whose name has been tossed around David Urban as a potential Trump chief of staff. He said he's an operative,
I believe, Pennsylvania and dumb he's always sort of floating around out. There is a possibility- and I do think someone like that you know Christie is, as you say, not exactly a raging political success, but you know there are people out there in the Republican Party who fit that description. Now, what they would actually want to take a job with Donald Trump. In the White House, Sir, at this point, that might be a tough herself. So I think that this is about the merits or demerits of Chris Christie as a hypothetical Whitehouse chief of staff. I think this is about the question of. Is there anyone who can get Donald Trump to do things. He clearly needs to do for his agenda, to succeed and for his medium and long term political goals at the expense of his deeply cherished commitment to impulsivity unpredictability and two vengeance, and I think that
the arc of Chris Christie is a very you know it's it's a morality hail about how being loved by a certain group of people in getting a lot of media coverage for being combative. An impulsive can overshadow any intellectual understanding of what it actually takes to get politics to an end. So you know dont know if this is something in human nature of something in the nature of the Republican Party right now, if this is a media thing, but I think that its streamlining optimistic to think that Donald Trump, who has you know, inspired the feverish loyalty of some group of Americans, admittedly not as bigger does, he thinks and who has managed to you no success. Need above the establishment of the party who is now in Congress is going to be persuaded that anything he is doing is wrong. I mean
I care? I mean there is obviously a big just like from problems and in some ways is all just were caretakers. What I'm saying is it like Trump need someone who can compensate for his weakness in substantive political knowledge right that If it's not Chris Christie, Emmy may be Jen Brewer, I mean somebody, a republican governor who had a little bit of an anti establishment streak and has some familiarity with clashing with people, but it also has familiarity with like public policy, would help for even Sarah Palin for that matter, but Tom, I have to acknowledge weaknesses, z, right, like person all shortcomings and then pick someone who's going to help him compensate for those kind of shock.
things rather than someone who just kind of echo's personality traits tat. He personally kind of valorize is, but I think that the idea of the like disciplinary and chief of staff ride him in the thing that congressional Republicans want in their fantasy is achieved. Average gonna come in and like make trump behave, and that seems like totally totally totally impossible. When I do think is that you could have a president who, like still, does the weird tweets and stuff like that that free people out, but who is able to way in, Heaven administration that ways in online ongoing political controversies in a way that makes sense, sweat like one of the bizarre failures of the Trump administration. Is it he's
receiving legislative cooperation from the sort of four to pass. A dozen Senate Democrats who are holding incredibly imperilled seats in states where he's incredibly popular and like it's not a politics problem relic Heem remains very popular in West Virginia in Missouri and North Dakota Indiana. The Senate Democrats, who represent those states, have a strong incentive to work with him on something, but does he have to give them? You know you'd have to come up with something for them to work
with him on rate and his just like instinct to fight with people all the time is fine, but you just in a world where you need sixty votes to do things, and you have democratic senators who would like to work with Donald Trump on cloning quote something you have to be able to buy craft, something for them to work with you on. Otherwise, you can get anything done like just at all, and I dont trust is clearly frustrated by the spread of mean he could. He could use some help right and that's like you, gotta, have a meeting with clear mechanical. Unlike works of the now. Do something do a bill and instead
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vexations about how quickly things could get done in our democratic process. He hasn't been in this line of work before and Trump apparently saw those comments being played on tv a lot and got very angry and first, his social me The director sense a tweet at Mcconnell and then his sort of unofficial social media director Sean Hannity sent at Mcconnell also criticising hand saying that he had betrayed conservatives and then Trump himself started. In the mood of his criticism of Jeff sessions, tweeting that Mcconnell had failed him on repeal and replace, and he hadn't gotten anything done and then, when
He did a press pool spray. Yesterday he said that if maternal failed to pass healthcare taxes and infrastructure, then you should ask him whether Mcconnell should step down and so in one sense, this feud is a little fake trop, just endorsed Senator Luther Strange who's running in an Alabama special election next week and that this is. He is the candidate out of the top three that Mcconnell desperately desperately wants to win. He is appointed incumbent, but the real problem is that the other two candidates in the rain.
Have a reputation for being totally renegades and they have tried to position themselves as like the authentic trompe candidate against the Mcconnell stooge candidate. But jump is backing the Mcconnell stooge yet so it would have potentially been away for trumped to send a message to em all of Congress to endorse one of the challenges and try to put his ability to swing primary election, but instead he's playing ball and and doing the car
a solid and endorsed Luther strange in is hoping that he can win. And beyond that, I don't know if it's just as I mentioned before, there are just such really really powerful reasons. Fur Mcconnell and Trump not to have a real falling out. Mcconnell could make trumps life very difficult when it comes to getting his nominees confirmed. You know crafting legislation and the investigations, and then Trump could also make Mcconnell life really difficult, because Trump is more popular than Mitch. Mcconnell among conservative in Kentucky is a very conservative state where Trump is quite popular, Mcconnell isn't up for reelection until twenty twenty, but you could vision a world where a disappointed trump bum. You know key
need allowing these criticisms, maybe not even totally endorsing, primary challenger Mcconnell, but at least sending the message to the Trump base that the majority leader has failed in its time for new blood and and that sort of thing could be a real problem for Mcconnell. That's three years down the road. We have no idea. What Politics will look like then, but but it does seem that you know Mcconnell has chosen to pretend all year that he's living in a way where the president has no scandals and no tweets and he's been trying to sort of keep his eye on the ball in advance. The conservative agenda, as best we can, And this sort of thing, if Trump is really serious, about trying to position himself as an outsider, that could be a problem for Mitch because efforts to get things he lost on two to what extent.
This problem of the Republican Party is created for itself. I mean I remember in like twenty ten when the National Republican Senatorial Committee I would like pointedly not get involved in party primaries when their incumbents are being challenged from the right and near. This was at the time a big difference from the Democratic Party which was very prone company, and I you know what kind of position does it put the rest of the party and if you have president, who is affirmatively endorsing challengers to incumbents in Congress, were backed by their colleagues. It is that is that something that you know DNS Sea could could put an end to, or as it is, is this going to
hold the party as an institution, hostage to the personalities of Mitch, Mcconnell or Donald Trump, I mean, I think, the only real precedent of this that I can think of is when, in nineteen thirty eight, when Sdr was frustrated with a bunch of conservative southern Democrats who weren't voting for his big new bills and decided to campaign against them and he felt miserably it turned out that they understood politics in their state better than Franklin Delano Roosevelt id, but I think I'm not sure if it it's it's difficult to see how It will play out. You know trumps already been bleeding his base from earlier. In the year his his strong approval rating has dropped. His actual approve rating has dropped because People who used to say they approved of em in January M, are increasing
you're of them are still doing so. So you know if that continues to happen in twenty twenty and even next year, further round of primers that come up Jeff Flake as another Trump critic in Arizona. He just wrote a book about why Trump is bad and the White House has supposedly been exploring backing a challenge to flacon one of trumps biggest financial back. curse. Robert Mercer is now reported late, putting some money into super pack to challenge flake, so
We could see some really interesting conflict here and in part, that is because Trump does have this big megaphone and he still is quite popular among the people who vote in republican primaries and that strength hasn't really been tested. Yet we haven't really seen whether Trump can weight into a primary take down and incumbent who he criticizes as being insufficiently disloyal
but that threat is out there and it is hanging over many people in a republican party right. I mean an interesting thing if, if trumpeter try, it is that this is one of these weird things in american politics were empty, are definitely tried it and I did thirty eight. It definitely failed and says that nobody has done it because of this. This record a failure at the same time, I think, is fairly obvious that a lot has changed about american politics and party dynamics, since nineteen thirty eight and the world has been, I think, on some level waiting for someone. A self perceived outsider, a rogue disruptive actor whose can be like you know what just because trying to back a little
Primary challengers in the Deep South didn't work for empty are three generations ago like it does not follow that this won't work in Arizona in twenty eight t write like it's. It's a thing where that sometimes trump bucks things that are really really well, stab list, and it clearly was up in his face other times. I would say Trump put to the test aspects of conventional wisdom that are just based on very flimsy evidence, which we saw that in the primary that Trump showed that you know you can run a successful primary campaign. That's just based on common national media exposure, doing rallies that you don't need a labourer levels of local organization. don't need the party to decide right, but I mean in such fundamental ways right isn't that the party doesn't decide, but that, like you, don't need to court the big donors barely need to do anything. But if people here your message and they like it and
this idea that President's can't drive primary challenges to incumbents like it is true that that's what all of the evident says, but it's like still almost no evidence, and it would be interesting to see someone actually try it out. The fact that trumps numbers keeps slipping month after month makes it seem Desir than than it might otherwise kind of b. But you know, though, at times terrifying, I would say has been often a informative sort of figure for students or politics, because his interest in trying things that are a little bit different and I would be very excited to see him give this a try, but so fine Alabama. He said he selling out getting behind with a strange. So what I think I wrap it up. Thanks to DORA and Andrew for joining me. I thanks to producer Bird penguin.
And Riad, shall we our engineer. I thanks to all of you for listening, we'll be back next week.
Transcript generated on 2021-09-13.