Anyone who has worked in the White House knows the job ain’t easy. People who get White House jobs generally come to the office with experience in issue areas or politics or both.
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks had neither, and she is about to be out of a job.
Hicks had a successful career as a public relations fashion agent for President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and she was a model before that. But, despite often being described as an “emotional crutch” for the president, she had no apparent understanding of how to manage her White House portfolio to gain an advantage for her president or herself. White House duty strains the capabilities of even the most seasoned pros. An amateur is doomed from day one.
The real story about her White House exit is shrouded in mystery, a bit like the woman herself, but we can guess the immediate triggers. She had been dating another White House aide, Rob Porter, whose ex-wives say he beat them, and one of whom had pictures, thrusting the administration into crisis mode. Hicks’ loud and proud defense of Porter deepened the turmoil by turning the initial White House response into a support group for spouse batterers.
Then came her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, just before the news that she would be leaving. What did Hope say about what the president knew and when he knew it? No one outside the committee knows but what’s trickled out is that she copped to telling “white lies” for Trump and that he reportedly berated her for doing so.
Whether it was his anger that spurred her resignation or she’d already been tired of the all too-real reality show that passes for a presidency, one thing is clear: No Hope at the White House leaves the president more isolated than ever.
Perhaps, like Nixon in his final days, he’ll start talking to the portraits of former presidents. (My money’s on late-night conversations with Andrew Jackson.)
The Trump White House has been a disaster, and the repetition of bad news for the past year was enough to drive Hope away. At the young age of 29, perhaps she’s simply ready to return to the good life of corporate PR and away from the tortured life of political PR.
Anyone who has worked in the White House knows one sometimes feels tortured, but a good staffer keeps fighting and never gives up until a boss screams: “You’re fired.”
Is that what Trump said, while letting her say that it was her choice to talk away? It’s a line he always used on The Apprentice, though in real life he’s often been a coward when it comes to making that call.
Perhaps Hicks, with some time and distance between her and her disastrous experience in the White House, will have insights to offer, in her own voice or speaking through reporters, on an administration racked by nonstop scandal. For now, her legacy is as the most formally uncommunicative communications director in modern White House history.
But that’s not surprising—she served the most unpresidential president ever to occupy the Oval Office.