Cabinet chaos is a stumbling block

Published on Monday, 7 May 2018 17:58

One of the important things about the Donald Trump presidency is that it constantly challenges the capacity of journalism to tell the American people what’s going on. Even when there’s good reporting - and there’s been an extraordinary amount of fantastic reporting over the last 15 months - it’s become a cliche how hard it is to explain the big picture.

Take, for example, the current state of the Cabinet:

 The secretary of Veterans Affairs was fired March 28. His replacement’s nomination was withdrawn April 26. There is as I write this no replacement for the replacement.

 The CIA director position has been vacant since April 26, although the acting director is also the nominee - who over the weekend had to be talked out of withdrawing as a result of her own troubled confirmation fight. It remains unclear what her chances are for confirmation.

 Over at the Environmental Protection Agency, the administrator is almost certainly on his way out, although to be fair, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lasted for months as a dead man walking.

 At least two others, the secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Interior, have been sufficiently scandal-plagued that one or both are likely to leave before long.

 And the White House chief of staff is another dead man walking, with plenty of active reporting about his replacement.

Part of this is that a hallmark of the Trump management style is to never solve a personnel problem in a day if you can string it out for days, weeks or even months. Another part is that these things build on one another.

It remains a huge story, and one that is extremely difficult to tell properly.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Monday, 7 May 2018 17:58. Updated: Monday, 7 May 2018 18:00.