Friday, July 28, 2017

The mind stuck in "now"

Reince Priebus is out as White House chief of staff. He's the latest Administration appointee to be canned because he couldn't (or wouldn't) make Dear Leader happy.

Dear Leader seems to be operating under the theory that you try out horses until you find one that can make it through the steeplechase; the ones who can't, you shoot. He will continue to look for horses who can clear the fences. They will continue to fail because he (1) ties their legs together, (2) feeds them moldy hay and (3) (metaphorically) weighs a couple of tons, most of it ego. (Can you imagine a less bearable jockey?) He therefore will continue to shoot horses until we kick him off the track, which I fervently hope will happen no later than January 2021.

He will try out his second horse in the chief of staff position: his current Homeland Security Secretary, John Kelly.

Trump supporters are apparently happy because they never liked Priebus (I get that) and because military leaders are perceived to be better at everything than wusses who never served in the military. Maybe Kelly will magically bring order to the seething entropic whirlpool that is Dear Leader's West Wing. I'm not betting on it, but anything's possible.

Still, was Kelly really such a good pick? Not because he's not a capable guy: nobody has said that. (Oh wait, actually Roger Stone did say that, though Stone was referring solely to Kelly's lack of political experience.)

No, the problem with Kelly is that he occupied a Senate-confirmed position. Dear Leader hasn't exactly done a bang-up job of finding, much less nominating, people that the Senate will confirm. The chief of staff position, however, doesn't require Senate confirmation: Dear Leader could have picked anybody to fill the job. It seems to me that by taking a Senate-confirmed appointee and putting him into a position that doesn't require Senate confimation, Dear Leader squandered an increasingly scarce resource.

So who will Dear Leader's new Homeland Security secretary be?

Newsweek says it will be Kelly's deputy, Elaine Duke, at least on an interim basis. She was confirmed to her current position by an 85-14 Senate vote.

Duke could probably be confirmed relatively easily as DHS secretary, but that would just push back Dear Leader's problem to finding and confirming her deputy.

Any way you look at this, Dear Leader has made more work for himself. Did this occur to him?

I don't think so. I don't think Dear Leader thinks about consequences. If he has an itch, he scratches it. If he sees an immediate advantage he takes it, regardless of the long-term fallout. He lives in a perpetual "now".

That may be fine for a private citizen but it's catastrophic in somebody who's supposed to be leading the country. You don't do stuff as President just because it feels good right now. Part of your job is to look ahead.

But just try telling that to Mr. Short-Attention-Span Theater.

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