The White House has always been a high stress work environment, but the Trump White House seems like a poisonous snake pit. It is best avoided by anyone hoping for a career post-White House. Before John Kelly took his current position as chief of staff, he was a widely respected Marine General who’d devoted his life to serving his country. Now, he is the man who allied himself with wife beaters and white supremacists, who called young immigrants “lazy,” and who helped wage a public relations battle against the mother of a fallen soldier. One has to imagine he is not thrilled by these additions to his future obituary.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a middling Republican strategist who mostly worked for her father before sliding into her current role as the administration’s defiant water carrier. Her short-lived predecessor Anthony Scaramucci worked for an investment banker before he cemented his reputation as the profanity spewing White House spokesperson. Then, of course, there was Sean Spicer. Poor old Spicer was never cool enough for the job. The formerly affable mid-level Republican communications wonk became best known for his red face, his short temper, and that time he hid in the bushes to avoid answering questions from reporters. I mean, where do you go from there?
So when Kelly is fired or forced to resign over the Rob Porter mess, who will take his place? Who would want to? Working in close proximity to the president seems destined to destroy whatever career or reputation a person has earned. It’s not a sacrifice worth making if you are an honorable person hoping for a distinguished career. Maybe that’s why the administration is filled with so many dishonorable people. Rob Porter probably looked pretty good compared to the other people willing to work as White House staff secretary.
The best this administration can do is to hire the best of the worst. Sure, John Kelly holds some abhorrent views, but his resume is solid and he projects the appearance of discipline. Sure, Sarah Huckabee Sanders seems to have the moral convictions of a mud puddle, but her voice never wavers and her face never turns red. Sure, Rob Porter beat his wives, but he was organized, polite, and photogenic.
If Kelly goes, I can’t imagine who will take his place. There’s a list of possibilities being floated by the media and, presumably, explored by the White House. I’m sure there are many qualified candidates and good people among them, but I doubt any good person will take the job. Why would they? Anyone can see that taking a job with this administration is a career killer. Only a person with limited options would choose to serve in this White House. Let’s wait and see who slithers into the snake pit next. We can hope for a person of honor, but I suspect we’ll only get another snake.