The Presidential Personnel Office is responsible for the vetting and hiring of nearly 4000 government employees with 1200 requiring Senate approval. It is this office which ensures the government functions smoothly and properly under any administration.
However, recent reporting by the Washington Post suggests the office is operating with approximately one-third of the normal staff, describes those staffing the office as inexperienced, and says the office is filled with “chaos.”
Further, according to the Post:
“At the same time, two office leaders have spotty records themselves: a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking.”
But wait. During the campaign, didn’t Mr. Trump promise he would surround himself with “only the best and brightest people?” Yes, he surely did. So, where are those people?
Watch Chris Hayes review the kind of people Mr. Trump promised he would hire:
Max Steir, Chief of The Partnership of Public Service, partnered with the Post, stating:
“No administration has done it as poorly as the current one.”
Of course, Mr. Trump, through his Deputy Press Secretary, Raj Shah blames Democrats for the low levels of staffing throughout the administration. Shah states:
“Despite historic obstruction from Democrats in Congress, the Presidential Personnel Office is filling the administration with the best and brightest appointees who share the president’s vision for the country,” said White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah.”
Mr. Shah then alleges that “Staff work tirelessly and have experience consistent with the practice of previous administrations.”
Really? When is the last time the reader heard of any Administration, using that particular office as a hang-out, with as the Post reports, vaping and Happy Hour taking place?
Here is a more potent question: What does the reader think would have happened had these allegations surfaced during the Obama presidency? Let me answer: Investigations would have been launched, appearances on Fox News by republican leaders telling the conservative audience how this was evidence the former President doesn’t respect the Office, and hints at impeachment, right?
So, how in the world did we get to slow-walking presidential appointees?
And, what about Mr. Shah’s other claim; his claim that Democrats are holding up Mr. Trump’s nominees?
In November, 2013 Senate Democrats changed the Chamber’s rules allowing only a simple majority to advance an agency or lower court nomination to a vote, rendering the filibuster moot on then President Obama’s nominations, due to Republicans near historical obstruction.
This is what makes Mr. Shah’s allegation of Democrats “historical obstruction” all the more egregious. He is grossly inaccurate in his characterization and that is putting things politely.
If the reader will recall, prior to the former President even being sworn into power, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met with his caucus informing them “to vote in lockstep,” in order to prevent “Obama’s agenda from being passed.”
To make clear: McConnell had one goal and that was to slow down the former President’s clear agenda he had from the American people. In other words, Republicans “had it in for Obama from Day One.” Who can forget McConnell’s words: “My number one goal is to make Obama a one-term president?”
Furthermore, the reader will recall how fourteen republican lawmakers met down at The Caucus Steak House, located no more than one mile away from the Inaugural Ball, as the former President and First Lady were preparing to dance their first dance.
In that meeting, republicans devised a plan of obstruction to simply block any and all legislative initiatives by Mr. Obama, this despite his running his campaign on merely “Hope and Change.”
Question: What were Republicans so against at that time since they did not know in advance specifically what Mr. Obama was going to advance while in office? While I will allow the reader to decide the answer, suffice it to say that it was this meeting which set in motion near historical obstruction in the Senate for appointments and initiatives through the republican filibuster.
Yes, Democratic Senators did away with the filibuster regarding Mr. Obama’s nominees for courts, however both parties allowed other measures in place and moreover, Republicans have done little to change those measures. Furthermore, they refuse to give the nuclear option which Trump persists in demanding of them through his Tweets.
Left in tact however, and effective to this day, is the ability of the minority party to refuse unanimous consent on nominations, while allowing Democrats to extend the nomination process by submitting questions, extending debate, while moving to cloture, allowing additional debate on the nominee.
Needless to say, the delay in Mr. Trump’s nominees for positions within the government, has caused him great consternation. As a result, he has blamed Senate Democrats – despite their holding the minority and republicans neglecting to change the rules – for the delays while not sharing the full story.
Furthermore, several of Mr. Trump’s nominees have struggled with background checks, questionable reputations accompanied by failures to pass the security clearances needed for their respective role.
In other words, it is Mr. Trump and his inability to obtain “the best people” coupled with no change in the rules of the Senate which have caused his Administration to be woefully inadequate.
Perhaps this is what makes Steve Schmidt’s slam of Mr. Trump and his administration so priceless when he appeared on Nicole Wallace’s show; Deadline last Friday.
Addressing Wallace’s question about the Presidential Personnel Office, Schmidt provides an epic slam of not only the office staff responsible for staffing Mr. Trump’s administration but Mr. Trump himself.
'Crooks, weirdos, wife-beaters'@SteveSchmidtSES weighs in on the new @washingtonpost report detailing the dysfunction & chaos within the White House Presidential Personnel Office
w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/BhflPemlp9
— Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) March 30, 2018
While it is true Democrats are using cloture to extend debate on several of Trump’s nominees, it is abundantly clear that Mr. Trump’s caliber of nominees and the associated problems they present, his current Presidential Personnel Office’s lax policies, and he himself are to blame for the deficit he currently has.
Instead of Mr. Trump accusing Democrats of holding up his nominees, perhaps he should remember his own words when asked about agency appointments. You said in a Tweet to Fox and Friends:
“We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government.”
A social psychologist by day, political analyst and journalist by night, Dr. Mark Bear has built an established audience by printing facts, without click-bait, sensationalism, or hyperbole. He is married to his wife of 34 years, and both he and his wife, Susan, have a Schnauzer named Shadow. Follow along by connecting with Doc on Facebook or Twitter under the handle Dr. Progressive!