by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
In 1965, a new television comedy debuted, Get Smart, starring Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, and Barbara Feldon as Agent 99.
This insane comedy was invented by Buck Henry and the fabulous Mel Brooks who is famous for his movies, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, and the standup routine the 2000-year-old man with Carl Reiner. Maxwell Smart was the quintessential bumbling secret agent who in spite of his goofiness would capture the bad guy. The criminal organization that Max always fought was Chaos, spelled K-A-O-S (which stands for nothing in particular). The Trump administration reminds me of Get Smart and KAOS.
Donald Trump ran a campaign that was based on nothing. He basically had no campaign organization and no campaign staff. His campaign consisted of him flying his personal jet to some location. He would then ad lib (give a speech) for 60 to 90 minutes. He had no prepared remarks. There were no policy discussions. He would just stand up in front of an audience and throw out ideas randomly. He would move off of a topic or he would dive into that topic depending upon the response of the audience. He was funny. He was incoherent. He was visceral. He was KAOS. (This should be no surprise to anyone because this is exactly the way he runs/ran his business organization.)
The Trump White House is in complete disarray. This is standard operating procedure for President Donald Trump. Reince Priebus, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was chosen by Donald Trump to be Chief of Staff. This was kind of an odd choice. He didn’t seem to be particularly close to Donald Trump. He didn’t seem to have a lot of gravitas with the legislators on Capitol Hill. He never really seemed to have control of the White House. He was fired or resigned after less than seven months on the job. He has been replaced by former four-star general John F. Kelly, another odd choice.
The list of names that have been fired or resigned from the White House and/or the Justice Department is long. It is a revolving door. From former FBI director James Comey to the marvelously incompetent Sean Spicer, former press secretary, the Trump White House is replaying the worst episode of The Apprentice.
One of the best examples of the dysfunction of the Donald Trump White House is Donald Trump, Jr. and the formal statement he released about his meeting with a Russian intermediary in June 2016 during the presidential campaign. The Washington Post reported that in late June and early July 2017 Donald Trump Jr. and his lawyers noted that Junior had a problem with this Russian meeting. They spent several days trying to craft a strategy and develop answers to questions which they knew would be coming soon from Capitol Hill and from the press. It appears, from the article, that the lawyers were pushing Donald Trump Jr. to move towards full transparency. As a matter of fact, there was some discussion about releasing all of the information including emails to the press in order to get ahead of the story.
A lot of these discussions were occurring while the Trump team (including the President and Donald Trump Jr.) were at the G-20 meeting in Germany. Just as they were formulating a plan for full transparency, the president got wind of the idea and scrapped the whole thing. He stated that he would craft a statement and it was done. As we all now know, the statement was misleading at best and a huge lie, at worst, designed to throw off investigators.
The repeal of ObamaCare has imploded because of a lack of leadership, vision, and a unified plan. There was not one Republican with a solid plan about how to repeal and replace this massive healthcare program. The good news, if we can call it that, is that President Trump has multiple bad ideas which look like they should probably go down in flames.
Trump would like to curb immigration. There is current legislation in the House which will cut immigration by half. Yet, economists tell us that our economy is almost at full employment and the president wants the economy to heat up to 3% or 4% growth every year. Where are these additional workers going to come from? By cutting immigration and tightening the labor market, wouldn’t that force wages up and cause inflation to increase which would drag the economy to a halt?
Oh, let’s not forget that the president wants a comprehensive tax reform. Businesses are getting “crushed” by our “old and archaic” tax system, according to conservatives. With businesses raking in record profits, it’s hard for me to understand this argument.
Chaos will continue to reign as long as we have a president who will not sit down and actually think about policies. Trump is great at shooting from the hip; he has yet to prove that he can really sit down and formulate policy. If you’re going to continually shoot from the hip you might hit your target every now and then but, for the most part, you’re going to miss wildly.
Maxwell Smart would say, “I missed it by… that much,” as he would hold up his thumb and index finger to indicate the narrowness of his miss. Maxwell Smart was hilarious. Unfortunately, we are living in reality. The dysfunction that surrounds President Trump is not good for the White House or the country. I do miss the thoughtfulness of “No Drama” Obama.