The mayhem at the White House is continuing as Donald Trump’s behavior gets ever more frantic and irrational. in the past few hours he has fired his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the State Department’s top diplomacy aide, Steve Goldstein, and his personal assistant, John McEntee. There are rumblings from insiders that Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Veterans Administration director David Shulkin are also on the chopping block.
As these vacancies open up, Trump will have the opportunity to name new appointees that will be better supplicants to his will. That has already played out with his nomination of current CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson. And the news on Wednesday is that Trump has picked CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow to succeed the fired Gary Cohn as his chief economic advisor.
By selecting Kudlow, Trump is continuing a pattern of bringing television personalities into his administration. Mostly they have been from Fox News and include K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastian Gorka, Richard Grennell, and Jonathan Wachtel. Former Fox and Friends co-host, Heather Nauert, was also tapped by Trump to be the State Department spokesperson last year. And now she has already been promoted to replace Goldstein. Her entire career has been with Fox News and she has no diplomatic experience whatsoever.
The departure of Trump’s communications director, Hope Hicks, last month has set off a flurry of speculation as to who would fill her shoes. Among those being considered is Fox News co-host of The Five, Kimberly Guilfoyle. She has been on deck for a Trump slot for quite a while. And another Fox and Friends host, Pete Hegseth, is reportedly being wooed to lead the Veterans Administration should Shulkin get tossed. Prior to joining Fox, Hegseth headed up a Koch brothers front group that pretended to advocate for veterans. But he has zero experience running a massive bureaucracy like the VA, nor has he ever worked in the health services field that comprises much of what the VA does.
Trump’s National Security Advisor, McMaster, is also teetering on the brink. His successor is rumored to be another Fox News contributor, John Bolton. He served in George Bush’s state department and as Ambassador to the United Nations. Consequently Bolton played a major role in the fabricated weapons of mass destruction excuses to invade Iraq, as well as in the disastrous administration of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obviously Trump is most comfortable working with TV personalities. It seems like his entire pool of possible job applicants come from the ranks of people he’s seen on Fox or other programs. His experience is so bereft of substance that he can’t possibly know anyone that has actual credentials in the jobs he needs to fill. And he wouldn’t want them anyway because they might not be photogenic. As a result, America will be burdened with shallow, unqualified amateurs running government agencies whose work affects us all. But at least they’ll look good when they sit down for softball interviews with Sean Hannity.
This is what Fox’s Laura Ingraham considers Trump “hitting his stride,” and “getting a really strong team in place.” And coincidentally, that’s exactly how Trump sees it. On Tuesday he explained to reporters that these White House shake-ups were just the normal fine tuning of personnel. “I’m really at a point,” he said, “where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet, and other things, that I want.” That’s after a year in office where all of his original appointments were also his choices, but apparently not what he wanted. Ironically, not having the leadership one wants is something most Americans can relate to right now.
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President Trump: I'm close to having the Cabinet that I want pic.twitter.com/RSgnUyJn3T
— Axios (@axios) March 13, 2018