In their early weeks and months in office, presidents and their advisers tend to commit the same structure and process errors, hobbling their administrations until they stop making such rookie mistakes. Nearly every major action by the Trump administration since Inauguration Day has shown both the naiveté and inexperience of the new president’s team, with its poor work product reflecting hasty drafting by a small political team that’s disconnected from the realities of implementation. You can see these errors in Trump’s federal hiring freeze, his ban on new refugee admissions, his border wall plan, and his shake-up of the National Security Council. In time, mistakes will undermine each of these orders, making it unlikely that Trump’s vision is ever implemented.
The Trump administration’s early errors fit into three broad categories. The first cardinal sin is a penchant for keeping the circle too small. A mixture of hubris and distrust is usually to blame for this error. Every White House team comes in with a healthy dose of ego, fueled by the thrill of winning America’s greatest competition. Alongside such hubris, most new White House teams also bring with them significant skepticism—even distrust or disdain—of the government they’ve inherited. This is particularly true for presidential teams that oust the opposition party.
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