With Reince Priebus out as White House chief of staff, and General John Kelly in, Trump and others are probably hoping that things will quickly fall in line. But Kelly doesn’t see his biggest job as managing the White House staff – he sees it as managing Donald Trump. Specifically, one of his biggest jobs, in his view, is controlling Trump’s Twitter habit.
Trump uses his Twitter account to tweet everything from childish temper tantrums over the Russia probe and “fake news,” to lying in order to appear totally great and awesome and like he’s the best person ever to walk the Earth, to creating actual policy. The most recent example of his problems with creating policy on social media is when he tried to reinstate the military’s ban on transgender people serving via Twitter, catching the Pentagon off-guard despite his lie that he’d come to that decision after heavy consultation with his military generals. In fact, lawyers from the Department of Defense had repeatedly tried to warn him off that ban while they worked on the best way to do things. Apparently, he was impatient and thought he would force the DoD to work faster if he just came out with it.
He’s also insulted our allies and made blatantly false accusations on Twitter. Despite that, Sean Spicer said back in early June that Trump’s tweets are official White House statements. Some say that Trump is blurring the lines between opinion and policy whether he’s making official statements or not.
And this is what General Kelly sees as his biggest job – reining this kind of behavior, or at least “pushing his tweets in the right direction,” as it was put to Politico. Kelly has given up on trying to keep Trump off of Twitter entirely, but he does believe he should work to keep Trump from using Twitter like a spoiled rotten toddler who’s mad that he’s not getting his way on everything.
In other words, his biggest job is taking on the role of parent or babysitter working to limit what a poorly-behaved child can do. And he’s taking on this role for a 71-year old man-baby.
Kelly wants to know what Trump is going to tweet before he tweets it. He wants to put a system in place where aides and advisers don’t find out about policy decisions via Twitter. But Trump’s worst, most frustrated, and most damaging tweets often come late at night or early in the morning – times Kelly says he can’t monitor. So he’s got his work cut out for him if he thinks he can rein in Trump’s tweeting.
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