Chris Whipple: How the Trump White House Is the Most Dysfunctional Ever


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Mar 09 2018 37 mins  

I’ve just got one thing to say: Thank goodness for John Kelly! I bet that’s not the one thing you expected me to say. But here’s why:With Kelly so much in the news – for the Rob Porter disaster, inexplicable non-existent security clearances, insulting the congresswoman who supported a gold-star widow from Georgia, his supposed role as a so-called “adult in the room” – for all those reasons and more, people are actually aware of and talking about what is arguably the most important White House job after, of course, the top one: Chief of Staff.I mean before Kelly, if I wanted you to turn off this podcast right now, I’d tell you that today I talked with the author of a book positioned as the ultimate analysis of the historical role of the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States.But that characterization vastly shortchanges the appeal and importance of Chris Whipple’s outstanding book “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.” After all, do you realize how much of a political junkie you have to be to care about the tactical approach of Hamilton Jordan or Mack McLarty or Ken Duberstein?This book is so much more than that. This book is less a “how to” than a “how it happened.” It’s story telling theater. Political inside baseball at the high and low points of history. It’s a fun and fascinating read. It’s also a work of history.You’re there when Ronald Reagan opens the door of his Pacific Palisades home two days after the 1980 election and warmly welcomes his former political enemy James Baker as his new Chief of Staff. You’re there when Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld gets Gerald Ford to let him hire his new deputy, despite the two DWI arrests that young Dick Cheney had.And most relevant to right now: You’ll hear some thoughtful analysis about why – in Chris Whipple’s opinion having studied four decades of how White Houses both function and fail – why the Trump White House is, in his words, the most dysfunctional in history. As you may know, Whipple is the guy who got the first on the record interview with Reince Priebus after Priebus left the White House.Whipple brings these incredible historical moments to life, making them feel like little movies. Which makes sense, because making movies is a big part of what Whipple does for a living.Whipple is a writer, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and speaker. A multiple Peabody and Emmy Award-winning producer at CBS's 60 Minutes and ABC's Primetime, he is the chief executive officer of CCWHIP Productions. Most recently, he was the executive producer and writer of Showtime's The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs.