Everywhere you go these days you’ll see “Help Wanted” signs. It seems every retail establishment and restaurant is looking for workers. Not to mention trucking companies and even airlines. A whole lot of people left the workforce about 18 months ago and for whatever reason have not yet returned.
Some former employees may feel they had been underpaid (or underappreciated). Others may be using the pandemic as a time to look for greener pastures. I would think that most job seekers today would put together a list of fantasy tasks and not-so-special gigs with the hope of finding something somewhere in between rewarding and financially acceptable.
CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation might seem enticing, but very few of those positions get posted on Indeed. Something such as alligator wrestler may appeal to more adventuresome souls but would probably be low on the list of dream jobs for most.
One position I’ve thought about recently that sounds pretty good in theory would probably be a huge headache. So even were it to be offered, I believe I’d decline any offer to be Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, regardless of who’s in the White House.
I kind of see that job as a thankless task. Sure, you get to hang around the Oval Office and hobnob with D.C. big shots (or at least those who think they’re big shots), as well as with world potentates, and you probably get a nice desk with the gig. But extensive research shows that the average tenure for a C of S is about 18 months. Shoot, sometimes it takes that long to find out where the best copier in the building is in a regular job.
You know, that job is actually fairly new historically speaking. Harry Truman really named the first Chief (John Steelman). Presidents since then have pretty much had a Chief of Staff even if the person wasn’t called that. Some who have held the office have made quite a name for themselves. Those of a certain age will remember Bob Haldeman and Alexander Haig in that role when Richard Nixon was having some issues. Dick Cheney was Gerald Ford’s last C of S. James Baker assumed the position twice, once for Ronald Reagan and then again for his good friend George Bush (#41).
More recently, Barack Obama had five Chiefs, and Donald Trump four. Ron Klain is President Biden’s current White House guru. As his predecessors did, Klain basically oversees the WH staff, manages the President’s daily schedule, and, as “gatekeeper,” usually decides just who gets to enter the Oval Office at any given time.
The Chief, I believe, also is one of, if not the, first people to fill in the President on just what’s going on in the world every morning. And that’s where the job may have some pitfalls. On any given AM briefing, the President might be in a really good mood until he asks, “What’s new?”
Mr. Klain may have to reply, “Well, sir, we seem to be getting more and more undocumented people trying and succeeding in crossing the border, and we really don’t have anywhere to put them.”
Or perhaps, “Cuba is revolting.”
Now, at first the President might say something positive about Cuba like, “Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. The leaders aren’t very nice, but I’ve always heard the people are great.” Of course, the Chief would have to say, “No, no, they’re actually revolting. As in protesting in the streets,” which would undoubtedly give the President pause.
Anything a Republican lawmaker or the latest diatribe from any members of The Squad may have said the previous night might cause great consternation. And then there’s the recent skyrocketing uptick in Covid cases, not to mention an equally alarming spike in murders and violent crime in big cities. And that’s just in the first five minutes or so of a daily briefing.
It’s probably a good bet that Mr. Klain keeps the name Donald Trump out of his summary every day. Kind of a red flag there. No need to raise the blood pressure unnecessarily.
President Biden has a long reputation of being a nice guy, even among those who don’t think much of his politics nor decisions. So perhaps he asks for some good news too, after hearing the woes of the world and uttering a “C’mon, man” or two along the way.
At which point, the C of S might say, “Well, your son Hunter’s paintings are selling well.” But even that news may be deceiving.
Eighteen months as Chief of Staff may seem like an eternity. It might even make alligator wrestling seem safe and appealing.
©MMXXI. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer