Saturday, January 21, 2017

The worst cabinet in American history

If you woke up this morning in tears, I can understand. (“President Trump”?) But don’t put away your hanky quite yet. There are more tears to be shed when you contemplate the people who will surround Trump. Paul Waldman (Washington Post/Plum Line) lists the evidence for his claim that Donald Trump has assembled the worst Cabinet in American history. Below is my shorter version of Waldman’s list.
Any time a new administration comes into office, there will be some complaining about the new president’s cabinet picks. But we’re seeing something extraordinary happening now. Donald Trump’s cabinet brings with it a combination of ethical problems, inexperience, hostility to the missions of the departments its members are being called to lead, and plain old ignorance that is simply unprecedented.
This is shaping up to be nothing less than the worst cabinet in American history.
Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy: … Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state. In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal. … Perry advocated dismantling the Department of Energy as a candidate in 2012 despite having no idea what the department actually does.
Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury: Mnuchin has never served in government and has no experience in setting macroeconomic policy … Mnuchin “failed to disclose his interests in a Cayman Islands corporation as well as more than $100 million in personal assets.”
Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services: Rep. Price, a doctor who has taken a particular interest in legislating on health care, has a habit of trading in health care stocks that are affected by the legislation he writes; …
Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education: DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor, has spent much of her adult life attempting to destroy public education in America … she did opine that schools should be able to have guns in them to ward off grizzly bear attacks. (Scriber: I wonder how many schools have been assaulted by grizzly bears.)
Andrew Puzder, Secretary of Labor: If Trump had searched America to find the individual most hostile to the rights of workers, he could not have done much better than Puzder, the CEO of a fast-food company … his company has been repeatedly cited for wage theft.
Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: The former presidential candidate, who has precisely zero experience in housing policy, was apparently appointed to lead this department because he’s one of the few African-Americans Donald Trump has met.
Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Mulvaney was just revealed to have employed a nanny without paying payroll taxes for her …
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce: The billionaire investor just realized that one of the dozen or so household staff he employs was undocumented.
Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior: Rep. Zinke is a former Navy Seal whose career was hampered by the fact that he was caught repeatedly billing the government for personal trips home which he falsely claimed were for the purpose of scouting training locations.
Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Like Puzder and DeVos, Pruitt seems to have been chosen for his fervent opposition to the mission of the agency he’ll be leading. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA multiple times over its efforts to enforce environmental laws. In his confirmation hearings, he refused to commit to recuse himself from the cases among those that are still open, in the apparent belief that there isn’t anything wrong with essentially being both plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit. …
Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser: Flynn … was fired from his last job in government because of mismanagement.
Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State: Tillerson has no government or diplomatic experience, though he has been to many countries that have oil.
Nikki Haley, United Nations Ambassador: Haley’s foreign policy experience consists of going on a couple of trade missions as governor of South Carolina.
That’s not to mention the sub-cabinet appointments who are already in trouble, like the Army secretary who punched out a concession worker at a horse auction or the national security spokesperson revealed as a plagiarist, nor the fact that Trump’s senior adviser used to run a white nationalist web site and the President-elect intends to employ his family members, all while insisting again and again that ethics laws don’t apply to him.
Any questions? No? I’ve got a few. How can the Senate confirm these folks just on merit? Why is there a rush to confirm in the absence of background checks for financial and ethical problems? Since when do we employ cabinet-level leaders so hostile to the agencies they supposedly advocate for?
I’m betting that the Republican senators cannot help themselves in an era where honesty, transparency, and truth are vices and ignorance, incompetence, and gaslighting are virtues. You’re looking at the cabinet of Captain Chaos.

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