General John Kelly is a Marine. One of things you learn about Marines if you hang around enough of them is that one can be a former soldier, but there are no former Marines. One either is or is not a Marine and if you are not a Marine, you have either been dishonorably discharged or have never served in the Marine Corps. Kelly is a Marine.
Marines are the tough men in the shadows we send from the shadows to the beaches. They storm beaches, they kill bad guys, and they impose order. That is General Kelly’s job in the White House. It is a testament of how others view him that CNN is now running with a leak that Kelly expressed his outrage over President Trump’s firing of James Comey and that he considered resigning. That was a leak to undermine John Kelly and it should actually help him. The President now knows he has a Chief of Staff who is prepared to walk and that it will be a reflection on the President’s administration if Kelly does walk.
As much as General Kelly is a Marine, he is also a reset button and one that we hope will work better than the one Hillary Clinton gave to the Russians. He has ousted Anthony Scaramucci before Scaramucci even officially began. Others will probably be ousted. In the meantime, he is beginning the coordinated restructuring of the President’s life to include more limits on access to the President.
The downside for conservatives is that it will be hard to restrict access from people like Ivanka and Jared Kushner, who are both liberals. It will likewise be hard to restrict access from people like Gary Cohn, the economics advisor and also a liberal. The upside for conservatives is that Mike Pence’s voice will not be as diffuse nor will it have to compete with so many schizophrenic voices echoing around the Oval Office.
The test of General Kelly’s effectiveness may very well be measured in the President’s twitter usage going forward. As of this writing, the President tweeted three times on July 31st and retweeted Fox & Friends once. None of his tweets were hyperbolic or stirring the pot. What will happen by the morning is anybody’s guess.
If the President can make it through August 1st without a series of tweets that disrupt the White House message, perhaps General Kelly is making progress. If the President can make it a full week, we will know the General is making progress. But if the President continues his regular pattern of disruptive tweets that undermine his own progress and policies, we will know General Kelly’s efforts are in vain. The proof will be in the tweets.