Working for the White House is always tough, and working for President Donald â€śYouâ€™re Firedâ€ť Trump must be a nightmare. He repeatedly undermines his Cabinet secretaries - criticizing them in public, blindsiding them with impulsive policy changes, and far too often ignoring their advice.
Itâ€™s surprising that competent people can put up with it - and, contrary to a popular line of thinking, very much in the countryâ€™s interest that they should.
A variety of former top officials, agency insiders and pundits across the ideological spectrum have accused advisers such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly of enabling Trump. They have urged them, for the good of the country, to resign.
Itâ€™s bad advice. Against the odds, these officials are having some moderating effect on the president. If they were to go, they could well be replaced by a cadre of less qualified Trump enthusiasts and sycophants.
Thereâ€™s plenty of evidence that cabinet members are tempering Trumpâ€™s worst instincts. Mattis persuaded the president not to cut and run from Afghanistan. Coats has been pushing to keep sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea. Pompeo has fought against rash efforts for â€śregime changeâ€ť in North Korea. And Kelly, whose job is akin to herding cats, may be the only thing keeping the White House from descending into utter chaos.
Sane voices are needed all the more now that Trump is getting more confident in the job and letting his instincts rule.
Asked why he stays in the job, Mattis has talked of an â€śobligation to serve.â€ť The fact that Trump is an unusually bad president only makes this obligation more vital to the nation. His long-suffering, independent-minded advisers should be thanked, not shamed, for discharging it.