Having said that, these two co-incidental events were graphic evidence of the total breakdown of the Checks and Balances framework that is designed to be the core vehicle of effective governance and oversight in the US Constitution. If the system was functioning properly, erratic behaviour of the President and the wild swings in policy directions would have been the subject of Congressional investigations and legislative safeguards to ensure the smooth running of the Republic. Instead, Congress has sat on the sidelines like a fascinated by-stander watching a slowly unfolding train wreck.
In its place, a palace coup has been in effect whereby the inner circle surrounding the President have undercut and blunted his worst impulses. It doesn't always work, as evidenced this past summer at the G-7 and in Helsinki, but one can only imagine what might have happened without it. However, even if we have been inadvertently saved from nuclear annihilation, it is in actuality a real failure of governance practices which are supposed to protect stakeholders (in this case American public) from catastrophe!
Unfortunately, such an abdication of fiduciary responsibility is often evidenced in the actions (or lack thereof) of Boards of Governors or Trustees in schools and school districts across the country. Rather than maintain an active oversight role with respect to the effective operation and administration of their schools, Boards are often made complacent by glowing reports by Senior Administrators about how great things are or, conversely, become convinced that things are going to hell in a hand-basket when they receive concerns or complaints raised by parents or faculty.
There is no greater evidence of this kind of governance breakdown than the sudden dismissal (or face-saving resignation) of a Head or Superintendent. Without a clear process of performance review, or the monitoring of key performance indicators on a governance "dashboard", it is often difficult for a Board to effectively execute their oversight function. Instead, things go along "great", until they don't, and without clear evidence to back up their decisions, Boards are often swayed by highly critical and vocal minorities of parents or by petitions and complaints from faculty members. The easy solution is not to investigate and admit that they have dropped the ball, but rather to act "decisively" and get rid of the flashpoint in order to buy themselves some time and to take the heat off. However, if their own behaviour and approach to governance doesn't change as a result, they are only setting up the school or district for an endlessly repeating cycle with the same outcome.
This week, I actually find myself feeling a little sorry for Donald Trump. Even though he clearly lacks the skill set and temperament for the job; and even though he has deliberately surrounded himself with sycophants who act as his own personal echo chamber; he was elected to the position and should have been constrained not by guile and flattery, but by governance and oversight. The current President is a comic-tragic figure who is destined to live on as a standing joke long after his term in office is over. But, the real failure here, lies in the hands of Congress. They have abdicated their responsibility in return for short-term personal gain and, like Boards that let incompetent Heads do significant damage to the school that they govern, it is they who will be held accountable by history.