James Baker on how to run a White House that works and why the world is so scared right now

Politico reports: Democrats and Republicans agree on one thing: James A. Baker III was the gold standard when it came to running a White House. And so far he’s not overly impressed when it comes to the troubled kickoff of the Trump administration.

In his first extensive comments on America’s controversial new president, the former chief of staff, campaign manager, diplomat and all-around GOP wise man offered a serious and substantive critique of the early days of President Trump’s takeover. His advice: Stop blowing up the U.S. relationship with Mexico, don’t expect them to pay for the wall, don’t act as “Israel’s lawyer,” don’t be an isolationist, support NATO and do a much better job of working with the other power centers of Washington — Congress and the Cabinet — before unveiling disruptive new policies like the temporary refugee ban. “The rollout here was deficient, we have to acknowledge that,” he says.

When we met in his Houston office last week for the launch of The Global Politico, our new weekly podcast on international affairs in the Trump era, Baker held forth for nearly an hour about how things are supposed to work in a West Wing that’s got its game on, the ways in which the brash billionaire in the White House is — and is not — like his old boss Ronald Reagan, and his disappointment in Barack Obama for leaving “the world in much worse shape than it was eight years ago.”

He also weighed in on Russia sanctions, taking a firm line that they should remain in place to remind the Russian President Vladimir Putin that “rolling the tanks” into neighboring countries like Ukraine will not be tolerated, worried that Trump will trade those sanctions away for “nothing” and argued that Israel is risking its future by building more settlements. “We have allies that are just scared to death,” he notes, as a result of Trump’s early rhetoric and unpredictable foreign policy. [Continue reading…]

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