Is John Kelly the man to rein in Donald Trump?
This is the question now that Mr Trump has brought in the retired four-star Marine Corps general to run his White House.
If anyone is going to establish a proper chain of command it is Mr Kelly, runs the argument. He is about the same age as Mr Trump and comes with the chestful of medals that suggests he is the sort of leader the president admires, and may even see as a peer.
The early reports suggest he has already won battles to ensure that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner cannot breeze in and out of the Oval Office, has ensured the Mooch is fired and has begun making sure that the president has access to the best research and intelligence briefings (not just the clippings that assorted officials with a hobbyhorse left on his desk).
But consider this from the New Yorker….
A hint of Kelly’s potential influence on Trump emerged two weeks ago, in Aspen, Colorado, when Kelly made a startling revelation. According to several sources who attended a private briefing that included some of the nation’s most senior current and former national-security officials, Kelly sought to ease their minds about one of the most controversial and famous Trump proposals: the border wall with Mexico. Many of the current and former officials were deeply skeptical of Trump, and surprised that Kelly, a respected Marine Corps general, would even take a job working for him.
Kelly explained that he had spent a great deal of time talking through the issue with Trump, and he believed he had convinced the President that he didn’t actually need to build a physical wall along the entire nineteen-hundred-mile-long border between the United States and Mexico. Instead, the use of sophisticated monitoring technology, air surveillance, and fencing could secure the border with what Trump could start calling a “barrier.”
So how’s that going you ask? Well consider this email that arrived a couple of days ago with the subject line BUILD THE WALL (caps not mine).
Maybe this is just for supporters, the true believers who are signed up to these updates. Maybe during more neutral occasions Mr Trump may begin to use the softer language.
But given that it was Ryan Lizza who wrote the New Yorker article, the same Ryan Lizza that wrote the key piece on the Mooch, it is hard not to think that Mr Trump wanted to discredit the piece.