By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders
What can you say about a guy who breaks all the precedents, smashes conventions and blazes a totally new path? Well, you could say that person is an innovator and a risk taker. But in the presidency? And with a man with absolutely no government experience? Thus far, Donald Trump has refused to
hold any press conferences, release any of his tax returns, or be held accountable for his vast business entanglements. And given his international business relationships, an understanding of where conflicts of interest exist is essential.
The President of the United States is supposed to be free from any external influence that might taint his decision making.
But Trump says NO to releasing information about his outside businesses or his taxes, something that no President has refused in 40 years. Trump further breaks with tradition by declaring that he will not disengage from his sprawling private real estate empire by divesting or placing them in some form of a blind trust. Instead he says that his closest family members can run them with no impact on his presidential decisions.
I guess the public is to be soothed or lulled into the belief that his daughters and sons will refrain from doing anything that might benefit their father and vice versa.
But then again Trump is not coy about working another job “in his spare time,” as his campaign manager put it, by continuing to have a controlling interest in his TV reality show “The Apprentice.” Never has a person who has become president asserted that he could work another job while running the country… no problem.
But fortunately Mr. Trump is freeing up time in his evidently not so busy daily schedule by eschewing the routine of daily briefings from national Intelligence advisors. I guess he feels that given the assessment of the CIA and FBI regarding possible Russian mischief during the elections are not to be believed, why take briefings from them every day?
As for his cabinet picks. With a very few exceptions Mr. Trump is surrounding himself with persons who have as little government experience as he does. Many of his picks actually oppose the mission of the agencies that they have been tapped to run!
To wit: His choice for secretary of Health and Human Services opposes Medicaid which serves the poor, has questioned the need for Medicare for the aged as we know it, and wants to abolish universal health care for the rest. His choice for labor secretary opposes a higher minimum wage for working people. His choice for director of the Environmental Protection Agency does not believe in the science of climate change. His choice for secretary of energy wanted to abolish that agency. The person who would run the Justice Department as attorney general has opposed civil rights for gays and lesbians and criticized the NAACP.
Mr. Trump’s pick as his chief Intelligence advisor has actually distributed fake and malicious reports about a possible Hillary Clinton child sex ring. You cannot make this stuff up.
Thus far the preponderance of Mr. Trump’s highest level appointments have come from corporate America and the military. This top heavy reliance on such people flies in the face of President Eisenhower’s warning to America about the worrisome concentration of power and influence of the “military industrial complex.” But Mr. Trump takes no counsel from past presidents or experienced government leaders. He seems far more comfortable with persons who have little knowledge of the day to day running of government.
If Lincoln had a team of rivals Trump has assembled a team of novices reflecting his own governmental inexperience.
If this were a sitcom it would make for fun viewing. But this is real life government at the highest levels. To ignore the best and the brightest in favor of a handful of Trump acolytes, donors, generals and corporate bigwigs with whom Mr. Trump finds a kinship is to not only to embrace ignorance of government but to revel in it.