Why Priebus was destined to fail

The former RNC chairman was the low-key leader Trump thought he needed, but quickly viewed as too weak to serve him.

Bill Clinton chose his boyhood friend Thomas “Mack” McLarty, a pliable figurehead, because he wanted to function as his own chief of staff. Richard Nixon chose the crew-cut enforcer H.R. Haldeman to instill fear and deliver the bad news that Nixon himself often shrank from imparting.

.. In Priebus, Trump first tried the kind of low-key, steady hand that what’s left of the GOP establishment thought he needed as a novice politician.

Surely the longest-serving national chairman in the Republican Party’s history, who had held the Republican Party together through fractious years and helped it reclaim the presidency, could be a calming, rational manager in the White House.

.. Priebus had repeatedly beseeched Trump to modulate his message and play well with the other candidates in the crowded Republican field. Trump, who has always been his own chief strategist, communications guru and political director – and who was winning by running his way — saw that as a sign of weakness, and responded accordingly.

.. In retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, Trump has now turned to the kind of military strong man he thinks he wants, one he hopes will kick keisters and take names. But the president might want to be careful what he wishes for. There is a model for that kind of chief of staff, and it’s probably not one that Trump would be comfortable with.

.. “Wouldn’t it be awful if Sherman Adams died and Eisenhower became president?” There will never be any doubt about who’s the real boss in the Trump White House.

.. Each day brings fresh evidence that the most unpredictable, undisciplined figure in this administration is the president himself. The very manner of Kelly’s surprise appointment – announced without warning in a presidential tweet – might give any new chief of staff pause.

.. But if he is to be an effective quarterback, his president has to give him the ball. It seems far from clear that Donald Trump is willing to share the football with anyone. Will Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump report to the president, or to Kelly? Scaramucci has already said he answers directly to Trump. What does that portend for Kelly’s authority before he even takes the job?

.. But when Ford left office, his powerful chief of staff, Dick Cheney, got a going- away present from his own aides: A bicycle wheel mounted on a piece of plywood with every spoke between the hub and the rim broken – except one.

.. Donald Trump’s rise, if not his presidency, represents everything that Reince Priebus had argued against in the wake of his party’s 2012 electoral defeat, when he commissioned an autopsy for the Republican National Committee that concluded the party had to attract younger, more diverse swing voters if it were ever again to be competitive in presidential elections

 

Israelis cheered for Trump. But they may miss Obama more than they expected.

Policy vs. personality in Middle East politics.

Real policy differences over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran caused innumerable disagreements, many of them quite public. But during my time representing the United States here, I found that the caricature of universal Israeli hostility to Obama was overstated.
.. the arrival of a president who “at last” would support Israel unconditionally and not pressure the country to limit settlement growth or make concessions to the Palestinians.
Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, declared, “Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state.”
.. revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations toward a two-state solution, with the support of key Arab states
.. With Obama, Israelis may not always have gotten everything they wanted. But they always got consistency. Obama held as a firm principle the idea that the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security was unconditional.
.. relationship mature enough and durable enough to withstand such differences — but they needed to know that the United States was a reliable ally when it mattered most. And he delivered
.. they came to appreciate was Obama’s style of leadership: steady, thoughtful, knowledgeable.
.. he had the maturity, the discipline and the judgment to reach well-informed decisions that benefited Israel’s security.
.. The result was a period of unprecedented intimacy between our militaries and intelligence services.
.. I was struck by the depth of appreciation that senior Israeli military officers and intelligence officials expressed for Obama’s contributions to Israel’s security, often drawing a contrast with sentiments expressed by their politicians or the public.
.. Amos Gilad, a longtime senior defense official.. told me: “It’s easy to criticize Obama. But on the military front, the relationship was incredible.”
.. His unpredictability .. was already a source of anxiety
.. Israelis now have to ask which Trump will show up for work each day — the friend who pledges his loyalty or the adolescent who can lash out at allies such as Australia and Canada, and perhaps one day Israel?
.. His lack of knowledge, compounded by his aversion to reading and short attention span
.. His carelessness
.. shaken the confidence of the Israeli intelligence services in the reliability of the United States as a partner
.. indifferent to democratic values and institutions and enamored of authoritarian leaders is harming the United States’ standing globally, which is never good for Israel.
.. off the record, officials are beginning to acknowledge that something has changed.
.. erratic, unreliable leader?
.. David Ben-Gurion, gave President John F. Kennedy
.. The best way you can help Israel, Ben-Gurion told him, is “by being a great President of the United States.”