Loy­alty mat­ters

Obama holdovers and dis­grun­tled Repub­li­cans im­pede Trump’s agenda

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Daniel Galling­ton

Don­ald Trump won the pres­i­dency be­cause of a key sec­tor of votes in tra­di­tion­ally Demo­cratic states — votes based pri­mar­ily on the dra­matic eco­nomic de­cline in these in­dus­trial-man­u­fac­tur­ing re­gions. In short, the elec­tion was an­other con­fir­ma­tion that, ab­sent a per­ceived and im­me­di­ate catas­tro­phe of some kind, most peo­ple, quite un­der­stand­ably, vote their eco­nomic in­ter­ests and con­cerns — i.e., jobs, jobs and jobs.

In short, Mr. Trump called it right, called it early and fo­cused his cam­paign on a win­ning theme — jobs — and in win­ning crit­i­cal heart­land re­gions. As such, he neu­tral­ized the Demo­cratic mes­sage and let them set up an “echo cham­ber” for their prom­ises of more “free stuff” — jobs were not part of the tra­di­tional Demo­cratic so­cial jus­tice mes­sage.

That Mr. Trump’s vic­tory stunned Wash­ing­ton is an un­der­state­ment — the town is still stunned. This can­not be overem­pha­sized: Ev­ery po­lit­i­cal and pro­fes­sional sec­tor of the town was stunned and still is. There has been noth­ing like it in re­cent po­lit­i­cal his­tory.

Most ev­ery pun­dit was wrong, and the col­lec­tive shock quickly turned from dis­be­lief to anger and ha­tred, es­pe­cially from the me­dia.

So-called “news re­port­ing” of all kinds has taken a bla­tant and con­sis­tent po­lit­i­cal spin against Pres­i­dent Trump. Watch­ing the evening news these days is like read­ing an edi­to­rial in The Wash­ing­ton Post or The New York Times, and they quote each other. The three ma­jor net­works hate Don­ald Trump so much they can’t hide their venom. In fact, you can ac­tu­ally hear and see the con­tempt in the news read­ers and talk show hosts — they can’t help them­selves.

OK, so Mr. Trump won and the me­dia hate him. Add that to a town where no­body ac­cepts blame for any­thing and you pretty much have the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in Wash­ing­ton.

Nev­er­the­less, and all things con­sid­ered, Mr. Trump has han­dled the me­dia sit­u­a­tion pretty well. Just look at what he’s done. As a well-ar­tic­u­lated na­tional mes­sage, he has shown us that the me­dia:

• Has be­come bla­tant ad­vo­cates for the left.

• Takes ob­vi­ous lib­eral po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions on most all is­sues. • Rede­fines news as opin­ion and spin. • Has re­duced their cred­i­bil­ity to an all-time low. On the other hand, it’s been the more tra­di­tional, petty po­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics in Wash­ing­ton that have in­flicted da­m­age on Mr. Trump. This as leaks and leak­ers seem ram­pant in depart­ments and agen­cies — much of it com­ing from the na­tional se­cu­rity sec­tors.

This is most prob­a­bly ow­ing to the Obama holdovers. Not only that, some, per­haps too many of the ca­reerists in State, De­fense and the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies are em­bed­ded for­mer po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees — or those brought in as ca­reerists by them — all of them with strong al­le­giances to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

And be­cause they had ex­pected (or been as­sured) “big jobs” in a Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion, they don’t mind be­ing con­fi­den­tial sources for most any­thing they can spin as neg­a­tive about Mr. Trump. This same dy­namic was also man­i­fest, but to a lesser de­gree, dur­ing the Clin­ton-Bush tran­si­tion in 2001. I wit­nessed it first­hand as spe­cial as­sis­tant to Sec­re­tary of De­fense Don­ald Rums­feld.

Re­mem­ber also that be­fore the elec­tion, more than a hun­dred for­mer Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion and Repub­li­can na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials signed on to vit­ri­olic per­sonal at­tacks against Mr. Trump. The pri­mary rea­son for this was prob­a­bly re­tal­i­a­tion for Mr. Trump’s well-placed crit­i­cisms of Ge­orge W. Bush’s ex­tended Iraq War as a strate­gic re­sponse to Sep­tem­ber 11.

Nev­er­the­less, some of these di­a­tribe sign­ers have had the post-elec­tion chutzpa to in­sert them­selves into con­sid­er­a­tion for se­nior jobs in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion — most re­cently, be­lieve it or not, as the FBI di­rec­tor. One asks: How could any­one who signed on to such a list of per­sonal in­sults ever be trusted in any Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion job, let alone as FBI di­rec­tor?

What should Pres­i­dent Trump do about this sit­u­a­tion? The very or­ga­ni­za­tion and struc­ture that he in­her­ited re­flects the poli­cies and per­son­nel de­ci­sions of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

It’s past time for a purge in the se­nior ranks. In that re­spect — and un­like some other com­men­ta­tors — I’m not so much con­cerned that higher-level ap­pointees are not be­ing placed in the na­tional se­cu­rity/for­eign pol­icy depart­ments and agen­cies. In fact, some of these or­ga­ni­za­tions should be al­lowed to at­ro­phy from the top.

What the pres­i­dent needs now is loy­alty, and it makes good sense that key agency or­ga­ni­za­tions be as­sem­bled very care­fully — along with what­ever re­or­ga­ni­za­tion is needed to im­ple­ment Mr. Trump’s poli­cies.

In fact, many pol­icy, pro­gram and anal­y­sis sec­tions or di­vi­sions of our na­tional se­cu­rity agen­cies and depart­ments may need to be elim­i­nated or con­sol­i­dated — then re­formed into new or­ga­ni­za­tions. And above all, se­nior man­agers should be se­lected and ap­pointed based their ex­per­tise, re­li­a­bil­ity and loy­alty.

Ev­ery past pres­i­dent has in­sisted on loy­alty from their se­nior peo­ple — Pres­i­dent Trump should, too. Daniel Galling­ton writes about na­tional se­cu­rity. He served in se­nior po­si­tions in the Of­fice of the Sec­re­tary of De­fense, the De­part­ment of Jus­tice and as gen­eral coun­sel for the U.S. Se­nate Select Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence.


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