Trump’s long march problem
been with him for a very long time.
Now, Trump’s style has led to an acute staffing problem across the administration and also to high-profile infighting in the White House. The former means that Trump cannot assert full control over a massive federal bureaucracy that is already inclined to resist him. The latter has led to an almost comical situation in which the president has piled portfolio upon portfolio on trusted son-in-law Jared Kushner -- now commonly referred to as one of the most powerful men in Washington -who had no preparation for the responsibility.
On the question of the federal bureaucracy, many Trump supporters are dismayed by the slowness with which he is hiring for the various government departments and agencies. According to a database compiled by the Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post, out of 553 important positions that require Senate confirmation -and that is by no means all the political appointments Trump has to make -- only 22 Trump nominees have been confirmed, while another 53 have either been formally nominated or are awaiting formal announcement of their nominations. That leaves 478 jobs with no nominee at all.
Even though that slow start across the bureaucracy is probably more consequential, the White House palace intrigue has received the lion’s share of press attention. Lately, the spotlight has focused on friction between Kushner and top adviser Steve Bannon. And that, too, is partly a function of the lack-ofloyalists problem.
The president himself suggested that in a recent interview with the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin. When Goodwin asked whether Trump still had confidence in Bannon, Trump said: “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve.”
It doesn’t take a mind reader to interpret that as a vote of no confidence. Members of the Bannon coterie in the White House were said to be shocked.
Veterans of earlier White Houses faulted Bannon for not trying to build relationships with people who could be his allies in the West Wing. When trouble came, who would go to bat for him? But a bigger problem was revealed by Trump’s observation that Bannon had only joined Trump late in the campaign.
In the China of Chairman Mao, veterans of the Long March held a special place; they had been with the Great Helmsman for the entire