Sometimes President Trump's endless cycle of hiring and firing seems like a White House in chaos. And sometimes it is. But this current round of musical chairs is intentional, needed and a wise response to the changing atmospherics surrounding the Trump presidency.
When he took office, Trump needed to appoint reassuring figures who would calm the financial markets and the international community. With a reputation of a bull in a china shop (or a China shop), he needed to appoint Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster as national security adviser so as to tell jittery NATO allies that he was not about to upset the alliance and radically change our foreign policy. Similarly, he needed to name Gary Cohn as his top economic adviser to calm Wall Street and send a message of continuity.
But those needs have now passed. Everybody has adjusted to the fact of the Trump presidency. Now it's time to move ahead with his agenda for change.
So it makes perfect sense he replaced Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo to encourage a tougher policy toward North Korea on its nuclear weapons; China on its dismal record on trade and intellectual property; Iran on its support of terrorism; and Russia on the long reach of its KGB into foreign countries. Likewise, if Trump replaces McMaster with the likes of John Bolton, what a strong message that will send to our adversaries!
On domestic policy, Trump has gotten the best out of Cohn. His aide's skill and wisdom were essential in crafting the tax reform bill that is saving his presidency. Now, he can pursue a more explicitly conservative, free market economic agenda with Larry Kudlow in Cohn's place. A change like this is not reshuffling but updating his administration to meet the needs he now possesses.
When he fired former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and former chief of staff Reince Priebus, it was an indication of early chaos in the White House. But the replacement of Tillerson, Cohn and, hopefully, McMaster is the outcome of a deliberate and wise policy initiative.