Voters seem to love it when candidates for public office proclaim “I’m not a politician.”
I always wonder if those voters take their car repairs to businesses proclaiming “We’re not mechanics!” or get their cavities filled by “dentists” who never went to dental school. Probably not; evidently, however, there is a widespread belief that anyone can “do” governing.
Hey, America! How’s that working out?
Michelle Goldberg, the new New York Times columnist, considers the consequences of electing a profoundly and proudly incompetent President.
A little more than eight months ago, the United States inaugurated one of its worst people as president, a nasty showbiz huckster whose own staffers speak of him as if he were a malevolent toddler. Yet the country has held up pretty well, considering.
Yes, there were emboldened Nazis marching in the streets, and crucial intelligence on the Islamic State casually passed to the Russians. Striving young immigrants who’d been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have seen their lives upended and trans people have been barred from enlisting in the military. Yet most of the institutions of American governance continued to function.
Then came hurricane season, and the stunning devastation of Maria. After detailing multiple administration failures in the wake of that disaster, Goldberg makes the obvious point:
For months now, observers have been noting that all the crises in the Trump White House have been self-generated, but that eventually the president would be tested by external events. Now a test has come, and he has performed about as badly as his worst critics could have feared. Hurricane season isn’t even over, and more catastrophes are surely on the way.
Maria should be a lesson: We need a working executive branch.
Our need for competent governance–or at the very least, elected officials with some idea of what government is and how it is supposed to operate–was also highlighted in a recent post by Robert Reich, in which he asserts that America really doesn’t have a President. Sure, Trump has the title,
But he’s not actively governing the United States. That work is happening elsewhere – in Congress, the courts, the Fed, the career civil service, lobbyists, and in the states. Or it’s not happening at all.
It’s not just that Trump lost the epic battle to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump never understood the Affordable Care Act to begin with, and played no part in developing Republican alternatives….
Meanwhile, Trump has run out of Obama executive orders he can declare void. Major regulations, such as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, can’t just be repealed. They have to go through a legal process that could take years.
Trump doesn’t seem to be aware of this. He told a cheering crowd in Alabama recently that he had ended the Clean Power Plan by executive order. “Did you see what I did to that? Boom, gone.”…
Trump’s Cabinet secretaries don’t seem to have a clue. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos still wants to spend taxpayer money on for-profit schools and colleges that cheat their students. Won’t happen. The EPA’s Scott Pruitt is trying to strip the agency of scientists. Another brainless scheme.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin still has no idea how to deal with Congress. He tried to persuade Republican House members to support Trump’s budget deal with the Democrats by asking them to do it “for me.”…
By the start of September, more than a third of the leadership positions at the Federal Emergency Management Agency were still vacant. Not a good way to begin hurricane season. Puerto Rico, anyone?
As of mid-September, out of 599 key government positions that require Senate confirmation, Trump had made only 159 nominations, according to The Washington Post. Trump had yet to submit nominations for 320 positions.
Both Goldberg and Reich include much more detail on the cluster**** that is today’s Executive Branch.
It is really past time for Americans to grow up and accept that we live in a complex modern society that requires a functioning government, staffed with people who understand their jobs and have the specialized skills and technical knowledge that today’s public sector administration requires.
America isn’t amateur hour, and it definitely isn’t Reality TV.