With the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen from the Department of Homeland Security, it’s apparent that the Trump regime is intentionally keeping many critical department and administration positions staffed by “acting” heads rather than permanent positions who have to be confirmed by Congress.  Here is a list of positions filled with “acting” heads:

  • Secretary of Defense
  • Secretary of the Interior
  • Secretary of Homeland Security
  • White House Chief of Staff
  • Ambassador to the UN
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Head of the Small Business Administration
  • FAA Head
  • OSHA Head
  • FDA Head
  • CPSC Head
  • EEOC Head
  • FEMA Head
  • ICE Head
  • Secret Service Head

It’s a shameful list.  And it seems to be part of a strategy.  Acting heads don’t need to be approved by Congress, so they can avoid scrutiny and avoid saying anything in a confirmation hearing that may come back to haunt them.  Acting heads also have a tougher time getting resources and properly staffing, especially because good people won’t want to work for them if they turn out to be temporary.  So a cabinet full of acting heads is a weaker and less effective cabinet, consolidating more power in Trump himself.

While campaigning Trump said: “We want experts, our finest people, we don’t want people that are B level, C level, D level, we have to get our absolute best.  In our cabinet we’re gonna have all the best people, we’re gonna find out who they are and it’s not going to be a politically correct choice, either.  We’re gonna use our smartest and our best, were not using political hacks anymore…”

Translation, based on his actions:  “We want toadies and ‘yes’ people, and if they know nothing about their agency we don’t care, we have to get the absolute most loyal.  We can’t attract A or B or C level people so they will all be D level, expert at nothing, and they will mostly be white men, mostly nationalists.  They won’t be smart or capable but they will all be craven political hacks.”

Trump’s hiring blunders have been on full display from the start.  In the first three years of Trump’s term, fifteen cabinet level appointees left the administration, itself a staggering statistic.  His tenure has been marred by crime, chaos, scandal, turnover and turmoil.  And the people in his orbit who were convicted of or plead guilty to crimes were all “the finest people” and “good friends” until they made Trump look bad by their misdeeds and/or incompetence, at which point he pretended he barely knew them.

Trump acts like a petty tyrant and wannabe dictator, and he staffs his administration the way tyrants do.  Congress should be a check and balance on the President, but his “acting head” scam makes a mockery of the Constitution and the balance of powers.  It’s yet another way that Trump, under the guidance of malignant nationalists like Stephen Miller, is damaging our institutions and destroying norms for the sake of power and, ultimately, greed.

All we can do is keep working against his lies and corruption, and keep resisting…

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