Team of Vipers
Cliff Sims

by

Karim Chandra

Chapter 5
Summary

Reports in the media indicate that Trump is not happy with the White House. While Trump was known to have a taste for the finer things in life, it was unprecedented that he would ever call the White House a ‘dump’. Sims records that “the President received a lot of criticism for press reports that he called the White House a dump—a charge he later denied. In this instance, both Trump and the media were telling the truth”. He also states that during the time of President Obama, some of the offices in the West Wing had been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, where most of the facilities in the offices were in terrible shape because of poor maintenance. Going by the standards of Trump, it is understandable that he was displeased with the facilities. Be that as it may, calling the place a ‘dump’ was an overstatement.

Credit to Trump, he made a significant level of effort to change the appearance of these offices. He always prided himself on the new look, and he would not hesitate to remind anyone who cared to hear. ““This place was a disaster when I got here,” he said, “hole in the wall and many other problems”. He’d had the room stripped down to its studs and refurbished in spectacular fashion. He purchased a giant crystal chandelier with his own money—which he called his “contribution to the history” of the White House—and had it hung above a table that was usually covered in crisp white linen”. Fortunately, Trump had a taste for beautiful things. He personally chose the materials, colors, and even supervised the staff members who used them to decorate the offices. However, from this narration, Sims makes it clear that during this early period, there were many other things which ought to have attracted the attention of the President. However, Trump was overly concerned with the appearance of the White House and “he loved showing off the residence, too, and seemed genuinely awed by the sheer coolness of living at the world’s most illustrious address”.

Sims moves on to describe the nature of work in the White House. It is an incredibly busy working environment, and people looking from the outside rarely understand what it is like to work there. Sims describes, in no uncertain terms, what it takes to work in the White House, stating that: “It occurred to me pretty early on that the presidency is like an iceberg. The parts you see—the speeches, the ceremonial duties, the interviews, the walks out to Marine One, the photo ops before or after meetings—those are like the tip of the iceberg sticking out of the water. The other 90 percent of the job exists out of sight in the murky depths below. Intelligence briefings, policy briefings, legislative strategy briefings—briefings, briefings, and more briefings. And mountains of paperwork.” Here, Sims has indicated that the work of the United States Commander-in-chief is not easy at all. The President’s schedule is always a plan for what he is supposed to do over a period in the future. However, in an unprecedented move, Trump was not impressed with the mountain of paperwork that awaits him. At one time, when he was presented with some papers for his attention, he commented: “You’ve never seen somebody have to sign as many documents as me—big ones, little ones. It never ends.” While this statement might have been innocent, it speaks a lot about the readiness of Trump to undertake his responsibilities.

Sims describes Trump’s management style as ‘chaotic’. He says that, in many instances, when Trump was faced with genuine questions about either his conduct or issues facing the country, he termed them as “fake news” when he was supposed to address them. “During our early days in the West Wing, there was an entire genre of reporting devoted to Trump’s “chaotic” management style. This was not “fake news”. A lot of it, anyway.” Sims says that while there were many times when the issues were overblown by the media, the truth is that there are many instances when people had genuine concerns for the President to address; yet, he simply brushed them aside.

Analysis

It is not a secret that Trump’s management style did not please a significant number of his staff. For example, when a president openly complains about having a lot of paperwork to attend to, it raises a lot of questions about his preparedness for the task. Additionally, his unpredictability is a real cause for concern among many of his staffers. Sims mentions that most of the people who work for Trump are always caught flat-footed whenever he makes controversial posts on his Twitter account. In these instances, it becomes difficult for the employees to craft a workable strategy to defend Trump, especially when he is in trouble with both the media and the public. Having an unpredictable leader is dangerous, specifically when they are making decisions which may endanger the peace and stability of a country. Trump’s approach to leadership is controversial, and is causing anxiety amongst those in his administration.

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