Wednesday, December 28, 2016

who's in charge?

Franklin Roosevelt famously ran his administration with a half dozen aides to whom he gave assignments, often with overlapping authorities. The system worked for him because he knew his people, knew politics, knew Congress, knew the levers of power in the government -- and was lucky.

Donald Trump, however, lacks such knowledge and such experience in government. Yet he is creating a Wite House staff and cabinet filled with confusion and disarray. David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy raises the legitimate question of who will really be the president? He suggests it might be the chief of staff, or perhaps the co-equal counselor, while President Trump tweets and speaks, and worries about his "brand."

Rothkopf notes the built-in rivalries in the new administration:
So, we now have four major interagency councils in the White House — the NSC, the NEC, the NTC, and the HSC. We have at least five entities that now feel empowered to take the lead on U.S. international trade policy: the NEC, the NTC, the new special representative for international negotiations, USTR, and the Commerce Department (whose incoming nominee for secretary, Wilbur Ross, has asserted that he will have a leading role in this regard). You have the overlap between the NSC (which, for example, might handle a terrorist threat where it originated) and the HSC (which might handle a threat where it manifested itself). You have the historic rivalry between the State and Defense departments over national security policy leadership, exacerbated by the move to add even more clout within the White House through the creation of the international negotiator job and the return to two security-focused interagency leadership groups residing there (the NSC and HSC).
It sure looks to me like a bunch of accidents and foul ups waiting to happen.

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