#downhill | #WhatTheyVotedFor
There is a moment in the New York Times’ account of “Turmoil at the National Security Council” in which the Trump administration pitches apparent incompetence as an asset:
In a telephone conversation on Sunday afternoon, K. T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, said that early meetings of the council were brisker, tighter and more decisive than in the past, but she acknowledged that career officials were on edge. “Not only is this a new administration, but it is a different party, and Donald Trump was elected by people who wanted the status quo thrown out,” said Ms. McFarland, a veteran of the Reagan administration who most recently worked for Fox News. “I think it would be a mistake if we didn’t have consternation about the changes―most of the cabinet haven’t even been in government before.”
It remains uncertain just how that should make anyone feel any better, but at least we know why McFarland is there.
The NYT report continues:
There is always a shakedown period for any new National Security Council, whose staff is drawn from the State Department, the Pentagon and other agencies and is largely housed opposite the White House in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
President Barack Obama replaced his first national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, a four-star former supreme allied commander in Europe, after concluding that the general was a bad fit for the administration. The first years of President George W. Bush’s council were defined by clashes among experienced bureaucratic infighters―Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell among them―and by decisions that often took place outside official channels.
But what is happening under the Trump White House is different, officials say, and not just because of Mr. Trump’s Twitter foreign policy. (Two officials said that at one recent meeting, there was talk of feeding suggested Twitter posts to the president so the council’s staff would have greater influence.)
Something about going downhill from there, but those are paragraphs nine through eleven; the first seven are extraordinary in their own right for being what they are, and number eight is the McFarland passage. In any case, twelve and thirteen require a safety warning for the precipitous drop.
Image note: Photo by Associated Press.
Sanger, David E., Eric Schmitt, and Peter Baker. “Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down”. The New York Times. 12 February 2017.