Is This Any Way to Govern?

Alan Zendell, April 3, 2017

This evening, on her prime time news broadcast, Erin Burnett asked why Jared Kushner who has no experience in either government or diplomacy is doing the job of the Secretary of State in Iraq. It sounds like a fair question. Burnett has been accused of bias by both sides, a sure sign that she’s a journalist with integrity. While her resume looks like that of a prototypical Republican, she doesn’t wear her politics on her sleeve, and I’ve always found her hardnosed interviewing style fair and objective.

Jared Kushner is a pretty bright guy, no question about that. But I know of lot of very bright people who I wouldn’t trust to do jobs they’re not trained for. I’m a pretty bright guy too, but that doesn’t qualify me to lead a diplomatic mission to the Middle East, land an airliner in distress, or remove someone’s appendix.

Burnett’s question deserves a real answer. I don’t mean to put words in her mouth, but I think what she meant was, “Is this any way to govern?” It’s not just Kushner. Who are the people who seem to have the greatest access to Trump’s ear? There’s his daughter Ivanka, who’s also pretty bright and happens to be married to Kushner. Not to be unkind, but something about that seems terribly inbred. At the very least it suggests a lack of open communication in an environment in which we need our terribly inexperienced president to be exposed to as many points of view as possible.

Oh, wait. There’s Steve Bannon, the extremist fringe journalist whose philosophy has become the official ideology of the Trump administration. And Reince Priebus, whose resume includes various flavors of political hackery but nothing of any substance with respect to governing. I’m thankful that Trump realizes he doesn’t know more than his generals about security. But even the best military strategists and security analysts can do no more than manage a holding action when our diplomacy stumbles along alienating one ally after another. Can sending Kushner to Iraq stop the bleeding?

I remember the uproar when John Kennedy appointed his brother Robert as Attorney General. Even a very young and naïve version of me thought that was gross nepotism, but Bobby turned out to be pretty good at his job, and a lot less scary than Jeff Sessions.

All this would be bad enough if the administration weren’t carrying the burden of ongoing investigations over possible collusion with Russia’s attempts to subvert our election process. I don’t know any more than anyone else about what really happened, but if my neighbors began calling to tell me there was smoke pouring out of my windows I’d take the possibility that my house was on fire very seriously. As one alarm after another sounded, I’d dial 911, and I doubt that I’d be able to concentrate on my job until the issue was resolved.

I’m hearing the word “impeachment” more and more. At first it really irritated me. Promoting the idea that the administration might not survive its first six months can’t possibly be good for the country, no matter how much I disagree with its policies. And the whole idea is absurd, anyway.

If the president knew he’d committed criminal acts serious enough to undermine his administration, he’d realize that the combined investigatory resources of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the FBI (and who knows what other covert organizations we’re unaware of) would uncover the truth. Surely, he’d understand that lies, denials, cover-ups, and diversionary tweets accusing everyone else of conspiring against him couldn’t possibly save him. And knowing all that, he’d put the good of the country first and simply step aside, wouldn’t he?


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