During Thursday's edition of CNN’s New Day, political analyst Brian Karem compared the White House to a "dysfunctional day care center." The Playboy magazine correspondent made the comparison after co-host Alisyn Camerota brought up the “game of musical chairs” at the White House, consisting of the actual impending transfer of the CIA Director to the State Department and wild speculation about more potential cabinet shake-ups to come.
As part of Karem’s metaphor, he compared the middle management at the White House to “the nannies who have to manage up and down and are trying to implement a message from the President but that message changes on a daily basis.”
He continued his criticism of the Trump administration: “This looks like a guy...who’s feeling his oats but at the same time, he’s really a guy that would rather be on the back nine kicking his Titleist out of the rough than actually dealing with some of the important issues that are facing the country.”
Karem ended his rant by arguing that President Trump sees his job as a sort of reality show where he can “kick people in and out any way he wants”, adding “the simple fact of the matter is government doesn’t run that way and he’s loathed to...reach the learning curve where he understands the job, although he thinks by his actions that he does.”
Cuomo asked Karem’s fellow panelist A.B. Stoddard what she thought about the idea that President Trump’s style was deliberately “different and disruptive”, intended to mess with “these people who are stuck in their bureaucratic ways.
Karem, apparently deciding to change his name to A.B., responded by saying “we’ve seen method, we’ve seen madness but we’ve seldom seen the two meet”; arguing that the Trump administration is “flying by the seat of the pants” with “no real message other than the message of the moment.”
Stoddard then had her chance to criticize Trump; she chose to do so in a much more measured fashion, saying that “all this disruption” the President creates “destabilizes the U.S. government at a time when the economy’s fine at home doing quite well.”
She then parroted the standard liberal talking point about how the rest of the world no longer looks at the United States in a favorable light because of “the way he dumps his Secretary of State” and threatens to “pull troops out of South Korea at a very, very grave time and consequential time.” She closed by saying “This undermines us long term, not only now, but later, and that’s what’s so scary is that it’s not just a style. It really has consequences.”
The co-hosts of New Day gave Karem the last word, although they really didn’t have much of a choice since he started talking immediately after Stoddard finished making her points. Karem’s closing argument warned about how “Russia is running rampant right now and freely and unchecked” and called the White House staff’s competency into question by declaring “these people do not understand the issues facing this country.”
The media have taken the “White House in chaos” narrative and ran with it, seeing it as the most effective way to convince Americans to vote out President Trump in 2020.
CNN's New Day
08:06 a.m. Eastern
ALISYN CAMEROTA: I mean, listen, he does have a lot of the people he’s chosen are from cable news that he’s gotten familiar with over the years and we see that happening with Larry Kudlow. But I’m fascinated by this, Brian, in terms of this game of musical chairs. I mean, here are the, here are the list, the revolving door as our reporting shows all of the people who may or may not be on the chopping block. It goes from David Shulkin, Jeff Sessions, as we were talking about, H.R. McMaster, I mean who fills in for him? You know, Betsy DeVos, I mean John Kelly, Ryan Zinke, Ben Carson...says Sarah Sanders but I think that we can take that off the list at some point. But in any event, are people just interchangeable in that way?
BRIAN KAREM: Well, first of all, we have to understand what the White House is right now. It’s a, it’s a dysfunctional day care center. There’s no other way to look at it. And at the bottom, you’ve got people who are barely professional who really shouldn’t be where they are. In the middle, you’ve got the middle management, the nannies who have to manage up and down and are trying to implement a message from the President but that message changes on a daily basis. And then the top management, you’ve got people that are competing with the President who loves conflict, who loves to pit people against each other and thinks he’s getting a handle on his job now. This looks like a guy who’s, who’s feeling his oats but at the same time, he’s really a guy that would rather be on the back nine kicking his titlest out of the rough than actually dealing with some of the important issues that are facing the country. So yeah, he views it as a reality show so he can kick people in and out any way he wants. And the simple fact of the matter is government doesn’t run that way and he’s loathed to, to reach the learning curve where he understands the job, although he thinks by his actions that he does. That’s the White House.
CHRIS CUOMO: A.B., what do you make, what do of the criticism that his style is different and disruptive as a way of messing with these people who are so stuck in their bureaucratic ways and that there is progress, there is method to his madness, he is getting things done because of how he is. Does anyone buy into that down there?
KAREM: No. We’ve seen method, we’ve seen madness but we’ve seldom seen the two meet. There’s, the method is madness and the simple fact of the matter is, if there is a message it’s often lost by the simple fact of the way he conducts business. While he may want to shake things up, look there have been...I’ve been coming and going since Reagan. Okay? I’ve seen people who like to shake things up but this is shaking things up without...it’s flying by the seat of the pants. There seems to be no real message other than the message of the moment. And that’s the difference. And the people who are professional, and there are some like McMaster, like I told you before, Chris, I think he’s a great guy. I think Mattis...some of these people actually are, are good people, sound professional people, are having difficulty dealing with it. And then of course, on the back end, there are people that are afraid that if they leave this Administration, they’ll never find work again.
CAMEROTA: A.B., your thoughts?
A.B. STODDARD: Yeah, I mean, I think that, it’s, I’ve heard the conversation this morning and we have it often about whether or not Trump’s base, you know, will support all this chaos and whether they’ll leave him. They don’t care about Stormy Daniels and that’s fine but this is governance and governance is a process. And so while he creates all this disruption and he enjoys it, Brian’s right, and it is his style and it was in the New York real estate business, it actually destabilizes the U.S. government at a time when the economy’s fine at home doing quite well. He has a great story to tell there. He got a tax bill through Congress and he’s presided over massive deregulation that the business community loves and Wall Street adores but overseas, we’re in a perilous situation and so while the world watches the way he dumps his Secretary of State, the world watches people working close to the President handling classified and sensitive and secret information without security clearances and then being whisked off the property without their jacket on. The world watches all this dysfunction, him bragging about lying to the President, the Prime Minister of Canada, one of our greatest allies and thinking that it’s funny, threatening to pull troops out of South Korea at a very, very grave time and consequential time. This undermines us long term, not only now but later and that’s what’s so scary is that it’s not just a style. It really has consequences.
KAREM: Right and the real consequence, the bottom line, in the piece that you saw that Jim put on, that you were talking about earlier, is the Russian question. Russia is running rampant right now and freely and unchecked. And last Friday in that briefing room, I asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I said, listen, in the last three weeks, this President has said he’s going to increase our, our involvement in nuclear arms, he’s going to back away from the leadership role this country has taken in nuclear disarmament. The following week, and I think it was OMB Director Mulvaney said, we’re going to spend $50 billion upgrading and enhancing our nuclear arsenal. A week later, Putin comes out and says he’s got a first-strike weapon that can render our defenses useless. Now, those are the serious issues this President must deal with. And when I asked that question, I was told by the White House that their problem, quite frankly, isn’t that. It’s false narratives and fake news. These people do not understand the issues facing this country.