While President Trump finally named Mick Mulvaney as his acting Chief-of-Staff on Friday to replace John Kelly, the long, drawn-out process of finding a replacement willing to take over the undesirable position from the departing Kelly still merited cynical commentary from the media, even from hosts on Trump’s de-facto state broadcaster, Fox News.
After initially being turned down by his top choice for the job, Nick Ayers, the former Trump campaign consultant who went on to become Vice-President Pence’s Chief of Staff, Trump was publically humiliated by multiple candidates who announced their disinterest in working at a job with little upside to compensate for the multitude of difficulties that even a Chief-of-Staff for a conventionally competent president would face.
With even nominal Trump allies like Chris Christie and Rick Santorum begging off the “honor” of serving the president, Fox News‘s Brit Hume was forced to compare Trump to the “guy who couldn’t get a date for the prom.”
Asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace whether the extended search and multiple negative responses for John Kelly’s former role was “getting a little embarrassing” for the president, Hume did his best to praise Trump’s decision to add the acting Chief of Staff position to Mulvaney’s portfolio that also includes heading the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“He was like the guy who couldn’t get a date for the prom and he finally got Mulvaney, who was already on board to join in,” replied Hume. “But Mulvaney is a good choice. He’s a very able guy, seasoned and experience, knows the issues, knows the policies, knows the government.”
While Hume’s Monday morning quarterbacking of a low-tiered draft pick in the most optimistic light possible fits right in with Fox News’ unrelenting boosterism for Trump, his prom date comparison paints a more realistic portrait of a president beginning to realize that his boorish behavior and his failure to stem Republican midterm losses has led to an ostracism within his own party that will make it difficult to attract “only the best people” as he promised and provides an ill augury of the support the GOP will be willing to offer him as his legal predicament intensifies.
If any doubt about that interpretation still exists, consider the quote, cited frequently since Mulvaney accepted the additional responsibilities that theChief of Staff job requires, that Mulvaney gave before Trump won the 2016 election:
“Yes, I’m supporting Donald Trump,” Mulvaney said according to a video obtained by The Daily Beast. “I’m doing so as enthusiastically as I can, given the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being, but the choice on the other side is just as bad.”
If the only person you can get to work for you in the most important role on your staff is someone with that low an opinion of your character, you know you have an HR problem of your own making.
That Mulvaney can hold that opinion and still work within the administration tells you everything you need to know about his character as well. Perhaps that indicates a match made in heaven. The months ahead will give us the answer to that question soon enough.
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Original reporting by Joe Concha at The Hill.