In an opinion piece published by David O’Connell, the accomplished author compares President Trump’s first six months with Bill Clinton’s first days as POTUS, finding them to be remarkably similar in tone and action.
“When Clinton arrived in Washington, he decided to bring the ‘FOBs’ — Friends of Bill — with him. These individuals knew the Clintons from their days in Arkansas. They were intensely loyal to the president, but they were also woefully unprepared for the jobs they were asked to do. One of those FOBs was Mack McClarty, a friend of Bill’s since kindergarten, who was appointed chief of staff despite his submissive personality and lack of prior experience. Little surprise, the administration struggled with basic tasks of governance — like submitting nominations and getting security clearances. Tasks that, not coincidentally, the Trump White House hasn’t exactly excelled at, either,” he wrote.
He then compared President Trump having ousted chief of staff, Reince Priebus, “a man who, like McClarty, was selected mostly for his loyalty, but a man who was also equally in over his head.” He then noted that it took Clinton nearly two years to replace McClarty, so Trump deserves credit for acting quickly.
O’Connell also noted that Clinton struggled with the media in the first half-year of his presidency. “Clinton’s first communications director was one of his campaign aides, George Stephanopoulos,” he recalls, noting that “Stephanopoulos was responsible for handling press briefings, but he wasn’t very good at it. Stephanopoulos couldn’t effectively deal with tough questions about controversies like firings in the White House travel office, and he wasn’t as aggressive in defending Clinton as the president wanted. Sounds like Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, doesn’t it? Like Spicer, Stephanopoulos didn’t last through the summer of the administration’s first year.”
The writer then explains that if you look at Clinton’s dismissals of McClarty and Stephanopolous, you’ll see that the current “Trump administration exodus” going on is actually par for the course. “Clinton chewed through two communications directors, four deputy chiefs of staff, two congressional liaisons, two political directors and two schedulers in his first year in office alone. And that’s just a handful of all the hirings and firings.”
And when it comes to getting things done through legislation, O’Connell recalls that despite the fact that his party controlled both houses of Congress, Clinton couldn’t get much passed early in his administration, either.
Both men campaigned on promises made about job growth, “Yet Clinton failed to pass a meaningful economic stimulus bill, and he abandoned his plans for a middle-class tax cut. Trump’s plans for tax reform are likewise stalled,” wrote O’Connell, pointing out that both presidents promised to reform the country’s healthcare system. “Trump’s attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act went up in smoke late last Thursday, while Clinton’s healthcare dreams were also starting to vanish at the same point in his own term. Both presidents announced unpopular, restrictive military personnel policies that caused a backlash on the Hill. Both were dogged by past scandals that followed them to D.C. Both had problems picking an attorney general.”
He also recalls how Clinton’s approval in June 1993 stood at a lowly 36 percent. Trump’s hovering around that number right now.
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