Team of Vipers
Cliff Sims
Contributed by Shemika Thormahlen
Chapter 4

“More often than not, the first moments of each morning began with a suddenly racing heartbeat and a scramble for my phone to see if the President had fired off any tweets while I was asleep.” Sims introduces this chapter by describing what would later be a norm in the era of President Trump — specifically where he has a habit of making controversial statements on Twitter, and with some of them catching his team by surprise. Besides this, the prospect of working at the White House bothered Sims. He realized that living in D.C. was an entirely different experience from what he had expected: the cost of living is inflated; and it seems as if the residents of this region have lost touch with the rest of the country. “For me, the uncertainty was becoming a problem. If I was going to take a job in the White House, I’d have to sell two houses, divest from my company, move halfway across the country, and help my wife find a job—and I had to do it all in two months.” Transitioning to the new environment was always going to be a huge challenge to not only Sims, but also other members of the Trump campaign team.

Working for Trump is extremely difficult, and it would very much be according to his mood for the day. Immediately after the inauguration, as Trump was seated in his office watching his inauguration address on television, he indicated to his senior staff members that he was extremely unhappy with the crowds, as well as everything concerning the planning of the event.

Picking up a quote from a columnist in The New York Times, Sims illustrates the low public perception on the era of Trump. It appeared as if there was a significant portion of the country’s systems who did not appreciate Trump. “George Washington gave us the ambition of a quadrennial, peaceful, democratic transfer of power”, wrote one columnist. “Abraham Lincoln appealed to our better natures and our charity in the midst of civil war. Franklin Roosevelt gave us the strength not to be afraid. John Kennedy inspired us to serve our nation. Ronald Reagan talked of a prosperous America as a beacon of democracy around the world. And Barack Obama talked about the hope of which he was the living embodiment. Donald Trump gave us ‘American carnage’.” When Trump saw this, he became very mad — and he expected his people to handle this and project him favorably in the press.

While some of Trump’s actions did not help in building his public image, there are some instances where he was unfairly subjected to public scrutiny. One such instance was when a journalist fired off a tweet with the claim that “a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. that had been in the Oval Office during the Obama administration had been removed”. While Trump had always been seen by some people as racist, this kind of accusation could not help to build his reputation. However, it was unfortunate that the reporter did not have her facts right before delivering the tweet. In spite of this, the damage was already done. “Trump’s decision to remove the bust of an iconic civil rights activist from the Oval Office—as one of his first acts as President, no less—played right into the narrative that he was, at best, an enabler and tacit supporter of racists or, at worst, an outright racist himself. It was an irresistible story for eager journalists with itchy Twitter fingers. Except it wasn’t true”. Thus, while President Trump was fond of making statements which hurt his reputation, in this case he was innocent.

The election of President Trump was unlikely. Many people, including pollsters and seasoned political commentators, indicated that since Clinton had experience in government and Trump had none whatsoever, either in government or military, his victory would be difficult to realize. Even after his win, many people still did not — or could not — accept it. Thus, when The New York Times splashed the images of “Trump’s Inauguration Day crowd looking much smaller than President Obama’s in 2009”, Trump was immensely upset. Sims states that: “To him, these were attempts to humiliate him and perhaps even delegitimize his electoral victory. As noted, the President loved to tout his crowd sizes on the campaign trail.”


In this chapter, Trump emerges as an individual with an overblown ego. It is so delicate that it requires only a mere image on the front page of The New York Times to upset him. The office of the President of the United States is full of extreme pressures, and its holders must have the thick skins to absorb everything that gets thrown at them. In the case of Trump, this chapter indicates that he is either starting his presidency on the wrong foot, or simply unable to deal with the various situations. Furthermore, from this very early stage of the Presidency, Sims presents a situation where staffers are already leaving work under immense pressure and uncertainty, since it is impossible for them to determine how their boss would react to any situation.

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