John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

Seven Things I Would Do If I Were In President Trump’s Shoes

Posted on February 15, 2017

By Office of the President of the United States [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s entirely predictable.  A new President comes in.  The press attacks.  The opposition forms.  The hands wring.  Panic sets in.  Somebody or sometimes, a whole bunch of somebodies gets fired.

And eventually, a correction comes.

It happened with Bill Clinton.  It happened with Barack Obama (except for the press attacking part).  It happened with George H.W. Bush (remember the failure of the budget summit).

We are still waiting for the correction to come from the new Trump Administration.

It’s hard to say if this start is the worst in history.  It might be par for the course.  We won’t know until we see how it all shakes out.  It seems like it has been a hundred days or a hundred years, but it has only been one month.

Here are seven things I would do if I were in President Trump’s shoes.

  1. Give more power to Reince:  Priebus is the life-line to all corners of the Republican party and he is the only one who has the maturity and know-how to be the key gate-keeper to the President.  Reince was tested during the campaign and he delivered for Mr. Trump, bigly.  He needs to be the last guy the President talks to before he makes any momentous decisions, or any fun tweets.  He needs to control the flow of paper and the guest-list into the Oval Office.  He also needs to be the one guy who can tell the President no.  Every political figure wants the ability to do whatever he or she wants to do, damn the consequences.  The reason they have Chiefs of Staff is to keep them out of trouble, and that often means being the bad guy who has to say no.  Reince needs to have that power.

  2. Give Bannon Something to Do:  Talk of friction between Steve Bannon and Priebus are overstated.  They get along fabulously.  But Mr. Bannon is a man without a portfolio and that can be dangerous in any organizational structure.  Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  I would put the senior strategist in charge of spending a trillion dollars to rebuild our country’s crumbling infrastructure.   I would also put him in charge of finding the money to do it.  Trump is a builder and this could be a legacy worthy of his career, but somebody high up in the organization needs to be in charge of it.  That’s Bannon, who believes firmly in the project.

  3. Promote Sean Spicer:  Nobody can do both the job of Communications Director and Press Secretary.  I have done both jobs in my previous life on the Hill.  One job is long-term strategic planning.  The other job is drinking from the fire hose of press inquiries.  The long-term planning job is more important for Trump.  He needs a plan to get him from point A to point B.  And he needs to get to point B as soon as possible.  I would put Sean in the Communications Director job and I would have Stephen Miller replace him as the day to day spokesman.  Miller is better at staying on message than Spicer because Miller probably believes the message more than Sean.  Plus, putting Miller in as Press Secretary gets him out of his role in the policy arena, where he is a complete disaster.

  4. Set a time-line for immigration reform:  The President has yet to make a decision on what to do about the so-called Dreamers, kids who were brought here by their parents illegally when they were very young, through no fault of their own.  Most Americans believe that some accommodation should be made for these non-citizens citizens, many whom have grown up to be very successful and valuable contributors to American society.  If I were President Trump, I would keep the current program in place until a certain point in time, maybe two years, with the understanding that Congress would pass a comprehensive plan to fix the broken immigration system.  Giving the Congress a deadline is always important and this could light a fire on both sides to get something done to fix this broken system.

  5. Focus on tax cuts:  This kind of goes without saying.  Cutting taxes for working class Americans and for the American business community is an essential part of the President’s plan to make America great again.  Congress has been focused on tax reform.  It needs to focus on tax cuts.  Rich Americans don’t need their taxes cut.  Working class families do, especially if they are struggling to take care of their children.  And American corporations are fleeing this country because our corporate rate is too damn high.  This needs to be fixed and pronto.

  6. Announce Support for Voting Rights Act Renewal:  This might seem to be out of the box thinking, but one way to prove to the African-American community that you support them is to guarantee that they have a right to vote.  The Supreme Court ruled recently that certain parts of the Voting Rights Act need to be updated to reflect where we have progressed as a society.  I think the President should get credit for making those updates happen.

  7. Highlight Mike Pence: Right now, the best thing about this Administration is Mike Pence.  He needs his own forum to talk about issues he cares about.  His portfolio presently is dealing with the Congress and as a former Member of the House, he is well-suited for that role.  But he is also a former Governor and he should be the emissary to all of the governors and his message should be pretty simple.  We are returning power and money to you so you can take better care of your constituents.