Team of Vipers
Cliff Sims
Contributed by Shemika Thormahlen
Chapter 7

The relationship between Trump and GOP leaders was not good. Just a few months ago, Trump has been abandoned by his party and was not the type of man to forget about such things. Sims records, “There was also a personal concern, shared by many of the men in the room. They had all but left Trump for dead a few months earlier. And Trump didn’t seem like the kind of guy who’d forget something like that. How was this going to work?” In the United States political system, the President needs his party to offer him full support if he is to succeed in executing his agenda. However, this relationship can only be defined as fractured, at best. Sims writes about one of the consultative meetings: “They responded in kind, but their body language was stiff, uncomfortable, especially Paul Ryan’s. If there was any Republican in Washington who looked to be Donald Trump’s polar opposite—at least in personality, temperament, and background—it was the trim, earnest forty-seven-year-old from Janesville, Wisconsin.” The relationship between Trump and his party was not good and that was going to affect his performance. It is important to note that for the successful implementation of his agenda, the President needs his party to help him in legislative matters.

Sims continues: “The President’s relationship with Republicans in Congress developed through a series of fits and starts. In reality, the reasons they had trouble working together were deeper and more personal than differences in political ideology. They were cut from totally different cloth, not just as politicians, but as people.” There is a sense in which Sims passes an indictment on Trump. As a president, it was expected that Trump would rise above personal differences and offer leadership. But by Trump allowing his personal differences to affect his relationship with the leaders of Congress and Senate, Sims sees it as a sign of political immaturity. It is not a good thing when service delivery is hindered not by ideological differences, but by personal differences.

Sims goes on to describe some of the personality and leadership weaknesses that characterize Donald Trump as a person. “To really understand how Trump sees the world, you have to layer multiple lenses on top of each other. Trump believes he alone, often through sheer force of will, can solve certain problems. That’s one lens. Layered on top of that is his belief that all of life is a negotiation, and that every negotiation is a zero-sum game. There’s no such thing as a “win-win”; someone will win and someone will lose.” There is no doubt in this statement that Trump is not a team player. Perhaps, as Sims explains, this is the reason why Trump made some unilateral decisions and some went terribly wrong for him.

While there are professionals who are employed to advise Trump on a wide range of issues in the country, would usually ignore them. Sims explains that Paul Ryan “…was a brilliant guy, a serious policy wonk. He had an affinity for the granular details of complex issues and could go on—and on, and on—at length about the nuances of legislation. In contrast, Trump was a big-picture guy, the captain who charted the course and expected his sailors to navigate around the smaller obstacles.” Any political leader needs to listen to professionals who are being paid to help them. In the case of Trump, however, he fully believe in his own abilities and does not make it a point to consult the professionals who have been appointed to help with the decision-making process. Sims makes it clear that there was no shortage of competent staff and advisors around Trump. Ultimately, the professionals were deemed underemployed — since they got paid but did not execute their responsibilities.


It is clear that Trump has not provided an opportunity for professionals to execute their professionalism. Furthermore, he believes that he knows everything, and there is no advice which he needs from his advisors; whether in military, public policy, immigration or in any other governance field, Trump believes that he knows everything. In many cases, Trump ended up making mistakes that cost him, being the result of his failure to consult. There is no doubt that Trump is experiencing an increasingly strained relationship with his handlers, with the problem arising because of his failure to appreciate the need to allow these same people to put their professionalism into practice.

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