Annie Lowrey writes: It was a quick turn for 26 hours’ time. On Tuesday morning, President Trump blasted Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive officer of Merck Pharmaceuticals, for leaving a White House advisory council in protest of Trump’s equivocating statement on the white-nationalist violence in Charlottesville. On Wednesday afternoon, after more than half a dozen CEOs joined Frazier in publicly refusing to work with the White House (and others reportedly quietly indicating they might do the same), Trump abruptly disbanded two advisory panels.
The question of who dumped whom aside, the breaking-up of the two panels did not make for the best optics for an often chaotic White House. That said, the development seems unlikely to change the course of policymaking in Washington. The panels were largely ceremonial, and the Trump administration has shown a remarkable willingness to heed the demands of big business, even if big business has this week shown a remarkable willingness to chide the Trump administration.
Both the manufacturing council and the strategic and policy forum—a group of top executives from a broad range of industries, representing Boeing, General Electric, and JPMorgan Chase, among other firms—were launched with significant fanfare. In a statement, the then-president-elect said that “pioneering CEOs” would help “create new jobs across the United States from Silicon Valley to the heartland.” Soon after, the White House held a few splashy events with the corporate executives who signed on, eager to get the president’s ear.
But it was never clear exactly what the councils were doing other than providing photo opportunities. [Continue reading…]