It’s no state secret that no one is safe in the White House.
John Bolton, former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, learned that the hard way Tuesday, as Trump accepted his letter of resignation, ending his tenure as national security adviser.
While it’s generally accepted that presidential staff and advisers serve at the pleasure of the president, it’s also custom that presidential advisers serve as “honest brokers.” Trump’s firing of Bolton reveals the flawed logic Trump uses to lead his White House, underscoring his inefficacy when it comes to making national security decisions.
Stephen J. Hadley, the former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, argued in an address at the 2016 Scowcroft Legacy Conference that honest brokers must be capable at “running a fair and transparent process for bringing issues to the president for decision. It means maintaining a ‘level playing field’ in which ideas and views can compete with one another on an equal basis, without ‘stacking the deck’ in favor of one or another approach”.
Trump’s removal of Bolton from the White House seems to defy Hadley’s case supporting honest brokerage, as Trump indicated via Twitter that he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions as did others in the Administration.” Trump’s request for Bolton’s resignation was publicly rooted in disagreements along policy lines between the two. This highlighted Trump’s lack of appreciation and respect for diversity in thought, an essential facet of effective leadership and decision-making.
Through Bolton’s departure, it is clear that presidential advisers in the Trump White House serve only to advance the interests of the president, not the interests of the country in the name of national security. Trump’s flawed logic of removing advisers simply for advising highlights the instability of the administration and adds to the growing list of concerns regarding Trump’s ability to lead with a steady hand and clear mind.
This instance, however, is not the only demonstration of Trump’s flawed logic and irrational decision-making when it comes to hiring and firing. Bolton’s removal just adds to the extensive list of White House outcasts who have either departed willingly or left under the request of the president.
Denise Lu and Karen Yourish of the New York Times note that Trump has set the record for highest turnover rate in the White House, which then adds a level of uncertainty and instability within the bureaucracy. Removing department heads, exiling White House advisers and forcing out members of the Cabinet due to disagreements over policy drastically curtails the ability of the Oval Office to consider varying perspectives and stances on critical issues facing the nation, demonstrating the need for stability and structure within the walls of the White House.
Facing criticism is not a constitutional requirement to run for president in the United States. Taking criticism with an open mind, however, should be a skill that all presidents must possess.
Trump’s removal of Bolton from the White House and his practice of exiling those who stand in disagreement with the president emphasizes the illogical nature of Trump’s leadership. Our country needs stability and structure. Under Trump’s leadership, stability and structure are nowhere to be found.
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