The phrase “most jaw-dropping thing I’ve read about Donald Trump” is, might we say, subject to debate. There is just so much to debate and the real answer is My God, how did we let this happen? Nonetheless, allow me to submit a dark horse candidate:
Nor did Trump realize he had to hire a staff. The Wall Street Journal wrote that Trump aides “were … as unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term.”
Jaw, meet floor. (I have laundered the quote through Vox to avoid WSJ’s paywall.) Given that we just had what I will reluctantly describe as a dick-measuring contest about crowd sizes, this relatively small thing might seem a distant contender. But consider for a moment that we are to believe that the President of the United States did realize he had to hire the people who worked for him until after he got the job. They just forgot to hire thousands of people. And predictably they ran out of time once alerted to this fact. Thousands of posts sit empty now.
It should be noted that Obama did not have everyone on lock down on day 1 either. In particular, some countries spend some time without an ambassador, but consideration is given to key allies and some ambassadors are allowed to extend their appointment. lol Trump just fired all of them without readying replacements. It is a breathtaking oversight, especially when considering how important questioning the handling of our diplomatic mission in Benghazi was to attacking Clinton. Then, just today, the entire non-partisan staff at the top of the State-department resigned.
It’s hard for me to get a handle on the exact size of the problem; there has not been much centralized reporting about what posts remain open as journalists typically focus on the play-by-play actions in Washington. But the steady bleed of top officials with no plan to fill them is gutting the high levels of the Executive Branch. It will soon start to impede the administration of government in the United States.
It might be tempting to cheer this along if you are worried about what Trump might do if he were, you know, essentially competent, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is also going to impede the functioning of things we agreed to do in the two centuries before we elected a feckless Cheeto to lead us. Sticking to the State department, our Ambassadors maintain relationships by making nuts and bolts requests and amassing knowledge of the political landscape where they are. Except, presently they don’t. Because the only Ambassador from the United States is in New York City at the UN.
You might also be tempted to think this is a ploy to give Trump’s close advisers more power, and you might be right. Honestly, though? They don’t have the hours in the day to pull it off. Unless Bannon has a Time Turner from Harry Potter, he cannot hope to run all the State Department from the West Wing. The Executive isn’t decentralized for philosophical reasons, but for practical ones.
But it does make you wonder: who is flying this thing right now?