(CNN) -- President Donald Trump, who is always looking for a quick fix, is hoping that John Kelly, his new chief of staff, will be the magic bullet.
But it won't work. Kelly will find himself extremely frustrated, and there will be limits to the kind of "order" he will achieve. He is working for a president who will continue to act in the same destructive manner. Unless there is a wholesale purge, Trump will still be surrounded by some calculating and strong-headed figures like Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sebastian Gorka, Jared Kushner and Anthony Scaramucci, who will not cede ground very easily.
Kelly also faces a political environment that is even more difficult than before. Republicans on Capitol Hill are angry and frustrated, while special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting an investigation that could prove damaging. The trifecta of the Russian sanctions legislation, the defeat of health care and the backlash against the idea of removing Jeff Sessions as attorney general suggests the Republican firewall on Capitol Hill is starting to weaken.
Although there are many examples where a new chief of staff brings good returns for the White House -- Howard Baker for Ronald Reagan in 1987, Leon Panetta for Bill Clinton in 1994 and Josh Bolten for George W. Bush in 2006 -- this is not likely to be one of them. The best comparison might be Gen. Alexander Haig, who became chief of staff for an embattled Richard Nixon in 1973.
Right in the middle of the Watergate investigation, Nixon turned to Haig when H.R. Haldeman resigned on August 30, 1973. The appeal was clear. The 47-year-old career military officer had worked as a senior military adviser to national security adviser Henry Kissinger and as Army vice chief of staff. Haig brought the kind of "can-do" attitude toward problems that the President hoped would help him. "He'll be superb in the new job. He'll get decisions made, orders implemented and papers flowing into the President's office," predicted President Lyndon Johnson's aide Joseph Califano, "He'll work 20 hours a day, and he knows how to get along with people." Haig, who had shown his scrappy character by earning enough money to pay for college by delivering newspapers and working in a department store after his father died when he was only 10 years old, was a compelling figure with strong convictions and an unyielding drive.
The problem for Haig -- and Kelly might want to take note -- was that there was little he could do to turn around the dire situation he inherited. By the time he was hired, Nixon was deep into battle mode, combating the multiple investigations that were taking place into his administration. The investigators were already exposing a deeply troubled president who had abused executive power and acted in vindictive ways toward his perceived adversaries. Nixon had allowed many people to work for his administration who didn't have a strong ethical compass and who had been willing to do whatever was necessary to achieve success. And, as the "smoking gun tape" recording would reveal, Nixon had been willing to obstruct justice in 1972.
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