C’est comme ca as the French say, or simply, that’s the way it is.
You name it. The firings or resignations of top White House personalities, the absurd tariffs, the unfilled executive positions, the knee-jerk diplomacy (heart-to-heart with Rocket Man, anyone), the appointment of a new National Security Advisor for whom military action is a default response to almost any conflict—the list goes on and on.
Where to begin. Well, the revolving door of senior personnel coming and going offers little comfort. So far Michael Flynn, K.T. Mcfarland, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucchi, Steve Bannon (who should have never been anywhere near the oval office) Sebastian Gorka, Tom Price, Dina Powell, Omarosa Manigault, Rob Porter, Hope Hicks, Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, and H.R. McMaster, to name a relative few, have been shown the door.
Then there are also vacancies for key positions in the Administration that have been vacant for the entirety of the Trump Administration. There are too many dark offices in federal agencies that need leadership to function efficiently. Sure, we know Congress can and does, for a multitude of reasons, slow-walk some top candidates that require confirmation, but there are hundreds of key jobs for which this Administration has not gotten around to even nominating anyone. One assessment by the Brookings Institution showed about one-third of key management positions were vacant for want of anyone being nominated. President Trump can say “who needs them,” but the truth is simply a dysfunctional transition team that simply wasn’t up to the job of preparing for a turnover of government. We are without hundreds of management personnel, including assistant secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsels, heads of agencies, and other leadership positions. We have gone a year-and-a-half without ambassadors to many major countries. We are without ambassadors to such important countries as Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and, of all places, South Korea.
According to the Brookings Institution, 34 percent of Trump’s most senior staffers had quit, switched roles or were forced out in his first year as president. And now, two months into Trump’s second year in office that statistic has now climbed to 43 percent. That’s more than double every other administration in the past 30 years.
The Trump tariffs are another chaotic freak show. Let us be blunt. They will do nothing for our economy or for the working men and women of the country. We doubt, over time, they will do much, if anything, for the iron, steel and aluminum workers either. Foreign products made, in part, with steel or aluminum will be cheaper than American products using these same raw materials. In fact, President Trump, now acutely aware of the folly, has already exempted from his tariffs, countries that actually produce over half of the steel and aluminum we import. We suspect, if President Trump had known ahead of time that his tariffs would not save Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th blue-collar congressional district, he wouldn’t have rushed to sign the executive order instituting the ill-advised tariffs just before the election in the first place.
Having just witnessed the grand spectacle of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, we may soon witness the scary spectacle of a diplomatic Olympics in North Korea. We do not look with optimism to the prospect of a Trump-Kim Jung Un summit. It can be no more than an ultimatum delivery session; sort of a prelude to a shoot-out at ok corral. This will not be Reagan at Reykjavik, which Gorbachev credited with ending the cold war. This will be a bully facing off with a bully.
Uber-hawk John Bolton has just been elevated by President Trump from Fox News commentator to National Security Advisor. This is a very key post in the White House. The National Security Advisor is the President’s chief advisor on all national security issues. Bolton is smart, cunning, muscular, consistent and predictable, but he is ill-equipped for this position. He talks war frequently but has managed to personally avoid fighting in our wars himself. Military action has been his answer to our frequent confrontations with adversaries. His modus operande is bellicosity. Now, we happen to agree with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright—what’s the use of having a mighty military if we’re not willing to use it. Given our current military deployments, no one should, today, accuse the United States of shrinking from using its military muscle. The National Security Advisor to the President should not be best known for his advocacy of military action. He should be best known for his ability to assemble for the President all options related to national security, and not for a well-honed preference for military action.
Ironically, with John Bolton as National Security Advisor, the nation will have to rely on a former Marine General nicknamed “Mad Dog” for rational deliberation.