The Secret To Success in the Whitehouse


I am so impressed with Chris Whipple, the author of the book, The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency. An in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the men who have been the president’s closest advisers, whose actions and inactions have defined the course of our country. As an outsider president tries to govern after a bitterly divisive election, The Gatekeepers could not be more timely.

Through extensive interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, Whipple helps us understand presidential history showing how James Baker and Leon Panetta skillfully managed the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and, conversely, how Jimmy Carter never understood the importance of a chief, crippling his ability to govern. From Watergate to Iran-Contra to the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the Iraq War, Whipple shows us how the chief of staff can make the difference between success and disaster.

Because of Chris Whipple, I read with great interest this article in today’s New York Times: In House Health Vote, Reince Priebus Sees a Much-Needed Reprieve.

He is quoted in the article: It’s been the most dysfunctional White House in memory, and a lot of it is on Reince. Priebus has made rookie mistake after rookie mistake, and he started by making the biggest one of all: not insisting he be the first among equals. Fatal mistake. I’m not sure anybody could make that demand, but he didn’t even really try. At some point, the president is either going to embrace failure or pick a grown-up, like a C.E.O. or maybe Mattis, as his chief.


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