UNDER the best of circumstances—when America has a president who is disciplined, willing to hear harsh but necessary truths and loyal to those he trusts—the post of White House chief of staff is “perhaps the second most powerful job in Washington”, according to James Baker, a political giant who held that post for two presidents, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Even under ideal conditions it is also the “toughest job in government”, Mr Baker has told interviewers, explaining why most hold it for less than two years (Dick Cheney, a chief of staff to Gerald Ford, is said to blame the job’s stresses for his first heart attack, aged 37).
Reince Priebus, the hapless establishment Republican ousted as chief of staff to President Donald Trump on July 28th, lasted a smidgeon over six months. After weeks of increasingly public humiliations and amidst near-chaos at the White House, Mr Priebus is being replaced by John Kelly, a former four-star Marine general lauded by Mr Trump for doing an “incredible” job as secretary of…Continue reading