Here’s why Stephen Miller is exactly what Trump’s White House needs right now

  • Stephen Miller appears to be the last man standing after a series of purges to key White House advisers.
  • Miller brings an ideological clarity and better political experience on the job.
  • But he'll have to tamp down his combative nature and also prove he's not just another member of the "swamp."
Senior Advisor to the President for Policy Stephen Miller
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Senior Advisor to the President for Policy Stephen Miller

Let's face it, it's been a rough first nine months in office for the Trump administration. Whether you love, hate, or judge President Trump on each individual case, no one can deny this has been an extremely volatile first year.

But now, it's Miller time.

That's Miller as in Stephen Miller, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, who now seems like a lone survivor of sorts after the firings of everyone from former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to former senior counselor Steve Bannon.

And despite Miller's youth, (he's only 32), combative political nature and history, his ascendancy could mean the end of the most serious problem for the Trump team: Policy inconsistency that borders on incoherence.

Miller has the advantage of pushing a consistent series of policy messages at least since he was a college student at Duke University. His most consistent cause, one that led him to a prominent position in Jeff Sessions' Senate office, is illegal immigration and border security. When then-candidate Trump made illegal immigration the kickoff issue for his campaign in 2015, Miller understandably launched himself into Trump's orbit. And when the Trump administration seemed to be wavering on illegal immigration toughness, Miller is credited with getting the team back to its roots on the issue. That shift back to the original course is more evident this week, as President Trump has started to mention border security and the wall in tweets that sound like something right out of Miller's old playbook:

If the return to some sort of consistency and clarity on immigration is any indication, perhaps Miller will help the president do the same on taxes, infrastructure, and North Korea.

But consistent messaging isn't where Miller's positives end. He also has good experience working in Congress, and we all know the Trump team's ability to work with the congressional GOP has been lacking. Priebus represented the establishment of the Republican Congress a little too much and never seemed to believe in some of Trump's key messages on immigration enough to push them properly with his former colleagues on Capitol Hill. Miller brings a contrast to that; he's familiar with the corridors of Congress and is also a true believer.

And compared to Bannon, Miller brings two other positives. First, he's more of a seasoned policy ideologue. Bannon understood good communication tools and imagery from his days in Hollywood and running the Breitbart website, and that was pure gold for the campaign. But the campaign is long over, and now it's time to execute policy and Miller is the better man for that.

Not everything about Miller is a total positive for the White House. Miller's been extremely combative and seen things from something of a siege mentality since he was writing essays about how he feared Osama bin Laden would feel comfortable at his Santa Monica high school. It's doubtful that a kumbaya-promoting senior adviser would work in this administration, but President Trump already has the combative thing down and doesn't need any more of it.

Another negative is that for all his ideological differences with most of his peers in Washington, he has basically the same background as a child of upper middle class parents who went on to graduate an elite school and then came directly to work in D.C. He's not quite a true outsider to organized politics like Bannon and President Trump himself.

But Miller's positives outweigh his negatives for the Trump team. With new Chief of Staff John Kelly tasked with plugging leaks and other intramural mischief, consistent thinking ideologues like Miller can help keep the administration's policy goals on target. And then these goals can either succeed or fail on then own merits, and not because they keep changing or never make any sense in the first place.

Commentary by Jake Novak, senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

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