Thank goodness for the women bringing order to the White House

Thank goodness for the women bringing order to the White House
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Republican Senator Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE’s recent description of the White House as an “adult day care center” continues to spark conversations about who is running it. Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job Trump administration’s top European diplomat to resign in February Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE, despite being a member of what Albert Hunt calls the president’s “sane caucus” could be next on the president’s chopping block after NBC reported, and Tillerson did not deny, that he called the president a “moron” in a July Pentagon meeting.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war MORE has been in the hot seat for months. The president has accused him of disloyalty and reportedly called Sessions an “idiot” after he recused himself from the Russia investigation. Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Michael Dubke and Michael Flynn were all dismissed or resigned amid high drama.

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Absent from the sandbox are the top ranking women in the administration, who have outlasted and replaced many of their male counterparts. We are lucky they stayed. As Politico noted, while their male colleagues have been mired in crass insults, power struggles and scandal, the women of the White House have continued to do their jobs.

How have Trump’s female staffers managed to stay above the fray in a White House that seems to drown its occupants in petty politics? One possible answer can be found in political science research on women in Congress, which shows that women are more effective politicians than men on average. Women sponsor and cosponsor more bills, secure more federal funding for their districts, and are more likely to work in a bipartisan manner.

This is not because women possess traits that make them better lawmakers, but rather is a classic case of a statistical phenomenon called “survivor bias.” Because of enduring obstacles that women face in campaigns that prevent many from being elected, the women who do get elected tend to be the most qualified, ambitious and determined. These are great tools for success in politics.

The same phenomenon may be present in the Trump administration. Even though the women working in the White House did not run for office for themselves, they have faced an onslaught of sexist criticism. Politics is a tough business in general, but combine it with gender bias, and it is not surprising that only the competent staffers have survived.

Kellyanne Conway, the first woman to manage a winning presidential campaign, has dealt with remarks about her appearance since she first joined the Trump team. A Daily Beast reporter called White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders a “butch queen” her first day on the job.

In an article about Hope Hicks, at the time campaign press secretary, former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg said, “She was very cute…I joked with her once, like, you’re like my Peggy, I’m Don Draper.” Nunberg was fired in 2015 for posting racially charged comments on Facebook. Hicks is now White House communications director. How’s that for cute?

United Nations Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job United Methodist churches may cut ties with denomination over push to allow LGBT ministers Nikki Haley: ‘I’m too young to stop fighting’ MORE has received praise from both sides of the aisle for the way she is handling a job for which many argued she had little applicable experience. Other Cabinet rank officials have failed to satisfactorily fulfill roles they have been practicing for decades.

To be clear, these women have made mistakes. Conway’s “alternative facts” comment is perhaps one of the most defining and memorable gaffes of the year. But they also deserve credit for their apparent ability to eschew workplace quarrels and tolerate personal denigration for the sake of public service.

In the business world, one with which the president is intimately familiar, it is often necessary to make precipitous changes to leadership structures. Companies must be flexible and decisive to survive. But in American government, stability and caution, both real and perceived, is more important. The United States is the world’s most influential military and economic power, and the people running the government and the way the world sees them matter very much.

Yet, when we scrutinize the forces that contributed to the early ejections of top White House officials, who happened to all be men, we find childish feuds and selfishness. These are not acceptable reasons for attrition in the most important office in the world. They are embarrassments. The White House would do well to take some hints from a few of their longest standing employees.

Lauren A. Wright, Ph.D., is a lecturer in politics and public affairs at Princeton University and the author of “On Behalf of the President: Presidential Spouses and White House Communications Strategy Today.” You can follow her on Twitter @DrLaurenAWright.