DJ Trump would like us to believe that he has unmatched people skills, that he can instinctively “read” the personalities, the innermost thoughts and motives, of the lesser talents he’s obliged to tolerate in order to conduct business affairs and affairs of state, generally in that order.
Nobody else can match his insights into human behavior, he will hasten to tell us.
For years, and no less during his campaign, T surrounded himself closely with people who subsequently emerged as convicted criminals and exposed liars.
Only when it comes to lying and criminal behavior does T lead by example.
Prior to 2015, T had already campaigned for office several times, and repeatedly informed the cameras that he was “considering” running. Teasing that he’d perform wonders he never intended to attempt, for years he manipulated the spotlight of publicity to focus on himself. Typical T.
He changed political parties whenever it seemed politically useful to do so. He once was a Democrat, but in 2000 he campaigned for President in California on the Reform Party ticket.
Posing as a political outsider during the 2016 campaign, T promised to “drain the swamp.” T presented himself as the only billionaire high-roller capable of championing regular people. He would eliminate entrenched Washington elites, replacing their self-serving abuses with his fresh new approach, no more politics-as-usual.
However, it’s not easy to motivate someone to upend a system that has consistently rewarded him with wealth and power. The wealthiest gators staked out their swamp plots using manipulation, subterfuge, and pay-offs. It has worked out well for them. Since we can’t reform them, maybe we should just fire them all, replace them with janitors.
But no. T’s “gilded Cabinet,” filled with opportunistic millionaires, billionaires, and corporate lobbyists, is poised to become the wealthiest presidential Cabinet ever. For once, T’s default use of superlatives might apply.
The people T invites into his inner circle provide us a clear picture of the sorts of policies and practices he wants to advance. (Cue theme from “Jaws”)
Confusion pervades T’s White House — or rather his “dacha,” after the summer cottages where his Russki amigos hang out when they’re on vacation too.
While T set about debasing the Presidency, many of his appointees ran afoul of his ego, or witnessed shameful deceits that even a badly eroded sense of decency could no longer tolerate.
Even the transient members of T’s crew still matter. His initial lavish praise for them wasn’t justified, but his choices themselves display his malign intent.
A billionairess who wants to replace public schools with Christian madrassas heads Education. A running-dog lackey for Fossil Fuel appointed to lead the EPA after building his political career trying to neuter the agency. Another Fossil Fuel bed-buddy, who couldn’t remember the Department of Energy during the campaign, is now running it. All foxes in henhouses.
In the first year of T’s presidency, one-third of his top White House appointees left — unprecedented among this nations’ previous CEO’s. Among the top dozen appointees, the rate was 50 percent. This past year’s internecine squabbles boosted the total turnover rate to 83 percent. No other president has come close in his first two years.
The self-proclaimed Artful Dealer either misjudged or mistreated his appointees so badly that he spends much of our nation’s executive time scrounging for their replacements.
During Obama’s first year, staff turnover was nine percent.
Several T appointees, including National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price had the shortest service tenures in the histories of their respective offices.
Mr. T began 2019 with a Cabinet populated by “acting” secretaries, raising concerns about the ability of agencies to implement policies effectively.
A unifying theme among T-gators is their rejection of genuine science input during policy-making, especially science that contradicts their personal economic or religious doctrines. Coincidentally, these are sciences that expose how rich donors’ corporate profiteering endangers public safety.
Most of those evacuating the Trumptanic simply resigned. Those who earned T’s scorn, but refused to knuckle under to his passive-aggressive tweets, were finally fired. State’s Tillerson was actually fired by tweet, a remarkably crude indignity for a public official at any level.
Some, like race-weasel AG Jeff Sessions, shouldn’t have been there in the first place, more of T’s poor judgment. At least Sessions mustered the integrity to recuse and finally resign. T’s management skills surface whenever he’s obliged to fire those who weren’t as nasty as he wanted, or didn’t have the decency to resign and spare him the awkwardness.
Did all those staff casualties result from their own incompetence, or T’s? After their departure, T often contradicted himself regarding their capabilities. The fantastic new appointee who was praised for his incredible skills turns out to be a no-good lying traitor. When a guy T publicly accused of dereliction finally resigns, we learn he had done a terrific job. Who knew?
Are we better off seeing T’s minions fleeing in droves, or enduring their ongoing malfeasance while they do his bidding?
Will some brave bureaucrat serve as the adult in the room? Will critical “leaks” reach a critical mass?
Orwell got it right. “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
Revolutionaries created this nation. Now, can they save it?
Jon Hauxwell, MD, is a retired family physician who grew up in Stockton and lives