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High government officials are not 'apprentices!'

Within the past couple of days, President Trump has contradicted White House spokesmen Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer about the reasons for the Comey firing and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster about his blurting out of sensitive classified information to Russian diplomats on May 10. He also embarrassed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whom he ordered to put together a report on James Comey's conduct and then told reporters that he had been going to fire Comey no matter what the report said.

Trump's imperious way of treating "the help" may be a carryover from the private sector. But in government- and especially in an administration that seems to be having a remarkably tough time staffing itself- you just can't do that sort of thing. Qualified potential government officials are not so thick on the ground that you can disregard their feelings and publicly humiliate them with abandon. Doubtless, the president's personal arrogance plays a role here. Doubtless, too, to some extent, it's simply another manifestation of his habit of running off at the mouth and thinking about the consequences later, if at all.

John Hudak of The Brookings Institution asks a serious question: in light of his track record of belittling and embarrassing his subordinates, is the president going to be able to fill all those vacant positions in his administration with top-notch people? And how in the world is he going to keep the ones he has if he continues to send the message through his behavior that he doesn't value them?

This president places a premium on loyalty, even inappropriately asking former Director Comey of a personal pledge of loyalty when the director's duties required him to maintain a certain amount of independence from direct White House control. But he seems to forget that loyalty is a commodity which works both ways. If he doesn't give it, he may find it increasingly difficult to get.


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