"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Donald Trump Ruined Ronny Jackson's Career

It's really quite simple.  Trump first said Dr. Jackson was qualified, but he shouldn't have to go through any kind of examination process to head a major government agency:

“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” Mr. Trump said. “The fact is, I wouldn’t do it. What does he need it for?”

What he meant was, Jackson hadn't gone through any vetting process by the White House, so why should he face one now?  Trump appointed him, that should be good enough for the Senate.  But this is government, not one of Trump's enterprises.  He still doesn't understand he's not in charge of a privately owned business.

The process Dr. Jackson was subjected to is really no more rigorous than the examination a business employee goes through when interviewing for a job.  But the position Dr. Jackson was appointed to was a public job, and that invites public comment.  There's a reason the Senate has advise and consent power; it's to give the people, through their representatives, a voice and a chance to examine who is running their government.

Now the allegations against Dr. Jackson were so new and unknown NPR refused to even mention them when the Senate began preparing to take his testimony and the stories started to tumble out.  They came out because the Senators couldn't believe what they were hearing and reading, and they were frankly amazed that the White House, playing the role of a "headhunter" consultant recommending a new hire to the client, had failed so badly to investigate the background of the person they were putting forward.  Were the allegations against Dr. Jackson true?  He denies all of them; but this is not a court case, or even a "#MeToo!" allegation.  This is not a celebrity or a powerful Hollywood figure being driven from a position of power or privilege because the public persona and the private person were so much at odds, and the private behavior so damaging to individual employees.  This was a man being appointed to an important government position, accused of drunkenness, DWI, and handing out opioids like Percocet as if they were Hallowe'en treats.  In the context of a Senate hearing to approve a nominee to a government position, these allegations were never going to be tried through an due process hearing or even an FBI investigation.  This man should never have been subject to this kind of public scrutiny over matters that will never be proven or disproven.

And the person responsible for this happening is Donald Trump.  Ted Lieu says:

Put simply, the Trump administration is embarrassing itself and wasting precious time and resources that would be better used nominating serious candidates for the multiple critical vacancies that still exist throughout our government.

But it isn't the Trump Administration that is embarrassed here; it is Dr. Jackson.  By failing to vet him, they put forward a candidate who was going to be destroyed by these stories, whether they are true or false.  And the person who sets the standard of conduct for that administration is only one person: Donald Trump.  The New Yorker argues that Trump's appointments, like Scott Pruitt and Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos:

send messages consistent with the themes of Trump’s never-ending Presidential campaign: he sees the U.S. government as a “swamp” that is best drained by destruction.....We seem to be learning the lesson that Trump wants to teach us: that not only is Washington rotten but it has always been, and will always be.
Or perhaps we're learning that competence in government does matter, and putting incompetent people in the White House destroys the careers of everyone involved.  Are the allegations against Dr. Jackson true?  Is he proof Washington is a swamp and everyone there corrupt?  Or is the lesson that Washington does things in a certain way because that's the way government works best, clanking and creaking machinery that it may seem to be.  Because this is not government working at all; this is government flying apart, with the springs splaying out and the gears flying off and the mechanism shuddering to a halt.

While the man behind the curtain blames the dog for tugging at the cloth and the electricians for the failure of the light show and the plumbers for the lack of steam, when the idea of Trump the Great and Powerful was the problem all along.  Put simply, the Trump Administration is incompetent to organize a three-car funeral, because the President is an ignorant boob who thinks working more than 4 hours a day is too stressful, and that learning about what government actually does and how it actually does it is far too much trouble for his magnificent brain.

When Jeff Sessions tells the House Appropriations Committee:

“Look, I think the American people are concerned, and the president is concerned,” Sessions said. “He’s dealing with France and North Korea and Syria and taxes and regulations and border and crime, every day, and I wish — this thing needs to conclude,” Session said. “So I understand his frustrations, and I understand the American people’s frustrations.”

You just have to look at Trump's Twitter feed or his mishandling, no, his abusive mishandling, of Dr. Jackson's nomination, to know that the President isn't concerned with anything except his poll numbers and his electoral college victory.

“Remember, we won the election. And we won it easily. You know, a lot of people say ‘Oh, it was close.’ And by the way, they also like to always talk about Electoral College. Well, it’s an election based on the Electoral College. I would rather have a popular election, but it’s a totally different campaign,” Trump said. “It’s as though you're running — if you're a runner, you're practicing for the 100-yard dash as opposed to the 1-mile.” 

Oh, and his obsession with Hillary Clinton:

It's been two years, he can let it go now; except he can't.  Worse, his Twitter voice is bleeding over into meatspace.  It took him 48 hours to tweet this much incoherence; he managed it all in 30 minutes on Fox & Friends.

Yeah, that's what everybody is saying.

 Nor, of course, can he take any responsibility for this:

“He’s a great man,” Trump said of Jackson at a White House event Wednesday. “He got treated really unfairly. He’s a hell of a man, too.”

Yes, he did get treated unfairly; but not by the Senate nor by Senator Tester.  Dr. Jackson was treated most unfairly by Donald Trump.

The problem is not government, or Washington.  The problem is who is the head of the government, and working, if only occasionally, in the Oval Office in Washington.


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