Living Large in Carson City: The Chaos Theory Edition

Maybe I am a bit thicker than most. All of 2017 and now 2018, I’ve watched the Trump circus win the presidency, circle the wagons, uncircle the wagons and bounce from one scandal to even greater scandals every week. By all rights, he should have been toast after the Access Hollywood tape revealed he bragged to Billy Bush about grabbing womens’ pussies. By god, as an entertainer and a powerful man, it was not only his right to do so, but it was expected of him. Narcissistic jokes aside, Trump seems not to be able to find that “third rail” of political suicide most Americans expected him to stumble over eventually.

Even the most skeptical Americans, and certainly liberal Democrats, were not ready for the deluge of scandals, ineptitude, greed, and simple mismanagement of the existing arms of government that are necessary to keep the ship of state afloat. Trump’s “White House” has been more than remiss in their lack of interest in keeping the gears of government running smoothly. As of January of this year, many important jobs are still not filled.

This includes assistant secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsels, heads of agencies, ambassadors and other leadership positions that experts believe are critical for the federal government to function effectively. These represent about half of the roughly 1,200 positions that require Senate confirmation.

The White House likes to blame Congress for dragging its feet, but that’s only part of the story: As of this morning, there is no pending nominee for 245 of the 626 jobs we’re tracking. Among them: deputy secretary at Treasury and Commerce, director of the Census, director of ATF, director of the Office on Violence Against Women at Justice and commissioner of the Social Security Administration.  Washington Post

Also, left out of the list is the crucial position of Ambassador to South Korea. Trump’s attacks on North Korea have been relentless and caustic leaving Kim Jong Un’s southern neighbor twisting in the wind without an ambassador to what should be its most powerful and valuable ally. Instead, the South Korean government hears, like the rest of the world, our Tweeter in Chief’s most recent attack on one of the most dangerous leaders in the world over the Internet. Now, in an unimaginable foreign affairs snafu, Trump recently decided to set up a meeting with the North Korean dictator without the support or knowledge of his Secretary of State. What gives?

Of course, Trump for all of his bombastic rhetoric has some successes and some failures. He seems most effective in Obama era policy reversals. His modus operandi in approaching appointments is to find someone (usually from the business world or Wall Street) who is diametrically opposed to the stated goals and mandate of said agency. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, is a good example. With no experience in running a department the size of Education, no public-school history, none for her children and a heavy dose of God-inspired belief that Charter and Private schools need public funding, her role has become more of a joke than an actual appointment to improve public education in America.  Check out this article for a list of the changes of heads of departments in the Trump administration – so far.

Then there the ongoing scandals that the Trump gang is dealing with on a day to day basis. Trump’s go to avoidance technique is simply to obfuscate, obfuscate and then obfuscate again. The more Robert Mueller digs the more outlandish Trump’s behavior becomes. Every time a new “indictment” or avenue of investigation occurs, the more erratic and “over the top” he becomes in his tweets, policy changes and/or reversals for no apparent reason.

Consider the week after the now infamous Stormy Daniels 60 minute interview. While the interview itself was mostly a yawner, the accusations contained in it put a damper on the normally gregarious serial tweeter. Yet, while he remained quiet on Stormy, he roiled the Washington political scene with a series of surprise “announcements”. He announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats in solidarity with American European allies over the alleged Russia poisoning in England. He whined like a baby as he signed the budget agreement when he didn’t get the money he wanted for his beautiful wall. After firing several high-profile department heads, he is reportedly secretly planning to get rid of his Chief of Staff and not replacing him. He seems to think he can do just fine filling that role himself.

The upshot of all of these minor and major upheavals to the White House staff and policies results in nearly utter and complete chaos. This is what America bought itself in 2016, chaos. Not chaos in its strict definition as in “complete disorder and confusion”. This kind of chaos is disruptive and unplanned. No, Trump’s brand of chaos is planned, implemented and nurtured for reasons only he and his closest advisers understand. But it must be made clear, Trump’s chaos is a game plan. A plan he has followed all of his life both privately and in business. He thrives on it.

I once had a boss who during the course of a normal day would tell me something in the morning about how something should be handled. Later on, she would tell another manager a completely different way to handle the same situation. Eventually, the other manager and I would find ourselves at odds on how to actually deal with the situation. Invariably, the two of us would become angry and go to our boss to express our frustration with one another. I can remember those meetings. She would sit us both down, hear our complaints and then proceed to set down a completely different solution to the problem.

It took me a while to figure out that this was an intentional-ego ploy on her part. When the inevitable blow up occurred, she could use her power over us both to “settle” the argument so she could be seen as the wise and firm arbitrator of any situation. I think this is what Trump is up to and has been all his life. When things go awry, he denies any involvement. He then supplies off-the-cuff “fixes” for the situation that makes him look good in the eyes of his base. The bigger the lie, the better the outcome from his point of view.

Unfortunately, my situation was much less significant than the acts of the most powerful man on the face of the earth. Put your seat belts on. Chaos is going to be the order of each and every single day Trump sits in the White House. He will and is already causing serious problems for the American democracy.  This is who Trump has always been. He is a liar, a cheat and an egomaniac grifter. America can expect no more.