Examining how the White House works—or doesn’t—before and after Trump
Donald Trump has reinvented the presidency, transforming it from a well-oiled if sometimes cumbersome institution into what has often
seemed to be a one-man show. But even Trump’s unorthodox presidency requires institutional support, from a constantly rotating White House staff and cabinet who have sought to carry out—and sometimes resist—the president’s direct orders and comply with his many tweets.
Nonetheless, the Trump White House still exhibits many features of its predecessors over the past eight decades. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated, the White House staff numbered fewer than fifty people, and most federal department were lightly staffed as well. As the United States became a world power, the staff of the Executive Office increased twentyfold, and the staffing of federal agencies blossomed comparably.
In the fourth edition of Organizing the Presidency, a landmark volume examining the presidency as an institution, Stephen Hess and James P. Pfiffner argue that the successes and failures of presidents from Roosevelt through Trump have resulted in large part from how the president deployed and used White House staffers and other top officials responsible for carrying out Oval Office policy. Drawing on a
wealth of analysis and insight, Organizing the Presidency addresses best practices for managing a presidency that is itself a bureaucracy.