Most of us accept that we’ll finish with thrills or agony, whenever engaging in competition: sports, spelling bees – and political campaigns. Somebody wins, somebody loses. We try to be gracious, win or lose. We value sportsmanship, agreeing character is important. We teach our kids, “don’t be sore losers”.
Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos.
– Will Durant
General James Mattis’ reportedly resigned as Secretary of Defense to avoid being fired, after many disagreements with President Trump. Mattis tried for two years to counsel the temperamental President on MODERATE courses of action – to no avail.
Their disagreements included Trump shredding the Iran nuclear weapons treaty, barring transgender citizens from military service, sending troops to the Mexican border, withdrawing troops from Syria and possibly Afghanistan (the kind of Presidential action Trump and Republicans skewered President Obama for), and alienating allies, while praising adversaries like Russia and China.
Mattis’ departure left the Pentagon in chaos – nothing new in this Administration. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward’s book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” described senior aides worrying about the President’s erratic behavior, ignorance and lying. Mattis (called “the last adult in the room” by some staffers) allegedly said Trump understands issues at the level of an elementary school student.
Without Mattis, a rumored gentlemen’s agreement between him, former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would have no gentlemen left to keep it, after Kelly’s and Mattis’ departures in January and Tillerson’s firing in 2018. They agreed one of them would remain near the volatile Trump at all times – to stop him from doing something dangerous in a fit of rage.
Nicknamed “The Voices of Reason” within an administration often devoid of it, they join a record number of Cabinet officials (13) who have left within 2 years – more than those in the first 2 years of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations COMBINED.
Those departed officials include:
- H.R. McMaster, National Security Advisor (disagreed with Trump’s approach to foreign policy);
- Jeff Sessions, Attorney General (recused himself from Justice Department investigation of Trump’s campaign, since he assisted the campaign – and Trump never forgave him);
- Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary, and Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator (both accused of ethical violations).
Several departed appointees, including National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, had the shortest-service tenures in their offices’ history.
Constant personnel churning at high levels of the Administration (and lower levels, such as Brett McGurk, envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS, who resigned and said it was “reckless” to consider ISIS defeated) reflect Trump’s management style: chaos.
But is chaos, defined as “complete confusion and disorder”, effective leadership?
Moderates, ask yourselves, could you work effectively if:
- You were in constant fear of losing your job?
- There was frequent turnover among leaders in your organization?
- Your senior executive was under investigation for lying (Trump averaged 15 false claims PER DAY in 2018, according to Washington Post’s Fact Checker), sexual harassment, infidelity (paid hush money to alleged mistresses), and possible treason (accused of colluding with Russia to win his election)?
If the answer is NO, we must conclude chaos is NOT an effective – nor Moderate – leadership style.