Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jared Kushner might benefit from Trumponage but the nation certainly will not

Let’s start with a definition:
trump·on·age
ˈtrumpənəjˈ/
noun
the power to control appointments to office or the right to privileges.
“recruits are selected through political patronage, not on merit”
synonyms: power of appointment, favoritism, nepotism, preferential treatment, cronyism, pork-barreling “political patronage”

Robert Reich blogs about Trump’s Business of Government.

The White House has announced that Trump will name his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to run a new Office of American Innovation – described as a SWAT team of strategic consultants staffed by former business executives, designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington and help make government work more like a business.

He already installed his daughter in the west wing.

That’s Trumponage. It may be good for Trump but it is not good for the nation.

It’s good to have fresh thinking about how government might function more efficiently. But it’s important to remember that government is not a business. The purpose of government is not to show a profit. It is to achieve the common good.

Precisely because there are many different views about the common good, government leaders must be capable of listening and responding to many different opinions and perspectives.

They must also be public educators – telling the public the truth, explaining the consequences of different options, and conducting public deliberation about what is best for society.

Above all, presidents should enrich and strengthen democracy – building trust in democratic institutions, avoiding conflicts of interests, and promoting tolerance and social cohesion.

So far, Donald Trump has done the opposite. He doesn’t need more business advice. He needs more advice about how to lead a democracy.

This is a lesson that picks up no orange hair as it flies over Trump’s head. He shows no respect of our democratic institutions and is on record saying that most people do not deserve his respect.

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) weighs in on Trump giving broad new powers to his inexperienced son-in-law.

Jared Kushner has long been a curious choice to serve as a senior adviser to the president, but his apparent promotion within the White House is even tougher to explain.

Donald Trump relied on his son-in-law as a confidant during last year’s campaign, so it stood to reason that Kushner would have a role in the White House, but he’s a 36-year-old lawyer with a background running his father’s real estate business. Kushner’s background in government and/or politics is effectively non-existent, and there have long been questions about whether his job is at odds with existing anti-nepotism laws.

But in a striking new piece, the Washington Post reports that Kushner’s power and portfolio are poised to expand.

President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises – such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction – by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.

The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.

Kushner told the Washington Post yesterday, in reference to the office he’ll apparently lead, “The government should be run like a great American company.” Anyone who actually believes this nearly always fails to understand why the two are very different, which in turn creates regrettable results.

… perhaps most important is the fact that Trump seems to be positioning his 36-year-old son-in-law as a sort of Shadow Vice President. Kushner was already playing the role of trusted White House consigliere, while also playing the role of diplomat and adviser on international affairs.

Here’s an example of why this is dangerous: Benen reports ‘a State Department official told The Atlantic that Trump insiders are ignoring the department because “they think Jared can do everything.”’

Now, Kushner, just two months into his career in public service, will add control over the White House Office of American Innovation to his expansive to-do list.

My suspicion is that Trump, increasingly paranoid and frustrated, is tightening his circle of trust, which in turn limits the number of loyalists who’ll have real authority in the administration.

And that paranoia would lead to Trumponage, a practice that admits no qualifications or experience.

… the truth is, no White House can expect to succeed if the president’s inexperienced son-in-law has a portfolio that includes domestic and foreign policy

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