DonkeyHotey / Flickr trump pleading caricature...
DonkeyHotey / Flickr

For most administrations, White House officials serve as an extension of the president’s goals. It’s their job to bring the central vision to their respective offices and turn plans into actions. That’s most administrations. But according to the Washington Post, with Donald Trump the cabinet has found a role in being the walls of his padded cell.

… in the White House, when advisers hope to prevent Trump from making what they think is an unwise decision, they frequently try to delay his final verdict — hoping he may reconsider after having time to calm down.

When Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) described the White House as “an adult day-care center” on Twitter last week, he gave voice to a certain Trumpian truth: The president is often impulsive, impetuous and difficult to manage, leading those around him to find creative ways to channel his energies.  

Creative ways to channel his energy. Have they tried macramé? Crayons? One of those little kits for making a leather billfold? 

Some Trump aides spend a significant part of their time devising ways to rein in and control the impetuous president, angling to avoid outbursts that might work against him, according to interviews with 18 aides, confidants and outside advisers, most of whom insisted on anonymity to speak candidly.

When people think that a crisis involving the 25th Amendment is unlikely, it’s worth remembering that much of Trump’s cabinet already doesn’t think of themselves as his enablers. They’re his keepers.

Situations like this happen in the most pernicious of corporate environments. Ones where the energy goes into avoiding wrath from the executive while the actual company falls into ruin. And yet—because far too many people mistake bullying for leadership—these same executives all too often find another company to destroy.

Trump Airlines. Trump Steaks. Trump Water. Trump America.

The descriptions of the Trump White House reflect scenes from the worst excesses of corporate America.

“If you visit the White House today, you see aides running around with red faces, shuffling paper and trying to keep up with this president,” said one Republican in frequent contact with the administration. “That’s what the scene is.”

And of course, all those red faces come complete with a horrified, fixed smile and automatic compliments for the chief.

One defining feature of managing Trump is frequent praise, which can leave his team in what seems to be a state of perpetual compliments. The White House pushes out news releases overflowing with top officials heaping flattery on Trump; in one particularly memorable Cabinet meeting this year, each member went around the room lavishing the president with accolades.

This is an absolutely toxic situation; one in which good decisions can’t be made because everything is being run past a screen of “What will keep Trump from exploding?” rather than “What would be the right thing?” It’s not even an effective environment for pushing out the wrong policy. It’s just a mire of false praise and real fear. It’s also the kind of environment where coming to work every day feels like a Sisyphean boulder-roll. The best you can hope for in a situation like that is that people simply quit.

The worst is that they get tired of spending their energy getting in Trump’s way … and let him do what he wants.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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