Memo to Trump: To Get Anything Done, You Have to Appoint People Who Agree with You.

By Dan Cadman on October 27, 2019

President Trump, clearly frustrated by the impeachment proceedings of House Democrats and furious at some of the testimony of longtime government employees, lashed out in a series of tweets last week that, incredibly, included this:

It would be really great if the people within the Trump Administration, all well-meaning and good (I hope!), could stop hiring Never Trumpers, who are worse than the Do Nothing Democrats. Nothing good will ever come from them!

Mr. President, you're the chief executive of the United States. You retain the right to hire and fire and, critically, reassign personnel throughout the executive branch. While it would be inappropriate to do so on the basis of personal fealties or oaths of loyalty, it is beyond question that you have the right to expect people in government to work in harmony with your agenda, your priorities, and your executive orders. Those who can't or won't should resign. Failing that, they can be reassigned and replaced with others capable of fulfilling the administration's goals.

Speaking as one who takes a keen interest in immigration matters, I've watched as you serially placed individuals in charge of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) whose philosophical alignments and willingness to implement your goals of regaining control over our borders and fixing our dysfunctional immigration system were obviously out of sync. There was never much chance we'd see John Kelly, Kirstjen Nielsen, or Kevin McAleenan make the sort of dramatic changes needed at DHS. They weren't the right fit for the job you wanted done. Those choices are on you, Mr. President.

You have also placed your son-in-law in charge of mustering what's needed for a legislative grand compromise on immigration. Maybe he can achieve it, maybe not, but let's be frank that his experience in such matters is minimal, and also that he's sent some mixed messages about what you want contained in such a bill. It's great that you invest trust in family; but sometimes family and politics aren't the best mix. And as goes your political agenda, so goes your chance at a second term.

In your tweet bombardment, you mention the previous Clinton and Obama administrations. You're right that those administrations immediately grasped the importance of filling the ranks with loyalists to their cause(s), right down to careerists in what they carefully gauged to be key positions. This is particularly obvious in such things as the cadre of immigration judges and officers of the asylum and refugee corps. Whether they were to admit it or not (they wouldn't), they went about quietly applying a litmus test, part of which was as simple as looking at the kinds of backgrounds and prior employment these individuals possessed, before jobs were offered. It wasn't rocket science or quantum physics.

It isn't impossible to turn things around. If you make wise selections at the top, you'll choose people who not only support your agenda, but who understand how bureaucracies work — how they can be used to further your agenda like a powerful battle cruiser, or how on the other hand they can be wielded against you like a slo-o-o-w aircraft carrier so large and cumbersome that your administration(s?) will be over before it gets put onto the right course. The choice is entirely yours, Mr. President.

Topics: Politics