Presidential aides should have no power to make decisions or issue instructions in their own right. They should not be interposed between the President and his ministers or heads of his departments. Their function, strictly, should be, when any matter is presented to the President for action affecting any part of the administrative work of the Government, to assist him in obtaining quickly and without delay all pertinent information possessed by any of the executive departments so as to guide him in making his responsible decisions; and then when decisions have been made, to assist him in seeing to it that every administrative department and agency affected is promptly informed.
It must be borne in mind that an Aide’s effectiveness in assisting the President is directly proportional to his or her ability to discharge their functions with restraint. Aides should remain in the background, issue no orders, and make no decisions.
The importance of choosing the right people for these positions cannot be overempasised. Choose the wrong aides, and you have a circus instead of a respectable presidency.
Thus presidential aides need to be carefully chosen by the President. They should be men in whom the President has personal confidence and whose character, attitude and, above all, loyalty is such that they would not attempt to exercise power on their own account, or to deceive the president by presenting what they believe is good for the President’s ears but which might hurt the president’s image later in the public or international eye. They should be possessed of high competence and intellect, great physical vigor, and a passion for anonymity.
Ultimately, the selections of aides determines how the presidency functions because aides provide a resource upon which the President can draw to make himself more efficient. Presidential aides should have enough reach and ability to sort of guide and direct the administration, to interact with the cabinet, to deal effectively with Parliament and to manage the President’s relationship with the press.
The President’s immediate staff structure and set up and how it functions as an organization determines whether or not the President is successful in the various political relationships that he inevitably forms. No matter how hard he works or how committed he might be, the presidency is such a lonely office that in truth, what makes or breaks an administration is not the president’s intelligence (or lack of it) per se, but his choices of whom to have around him.