As the gang at Camp Runamuck lurches blindly toward some kind of military confrontation with Iran, proving once again that letting the folks from C-Plus Augustus's White House off the hook was an open invitation to the country to wrap itself in perilous historical amnesia, we are now told by the president* that we are not getting a full-time, fully confirmed, actual Secretary of Defense any time soon. From Politico:
President Donald Trump said acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan will not move forward with the confirmation process so that he can “devote more time to his family.” He also said in a tweet that Mark Esper, the secretary of the Army, will become acting Defense secretary.
Well, I guess that's one way to put it. From the Washington Post:
Shanahan spoke publicly about the incidents in interviews with The Washington Post on Monday and Tuesday. “Bad things can happen to good families . . . and this is a tragedy, really,” Shanahan said. Dredging up the episode publicly, he said, “will ruin my son’s life.”
In November 2011, Shanahan rushed to defend his then-17-year-old son, William Shanahan, in the days after the teenager brutally beat his mother. The attack had left Shanahan’s ex-wife unconscious in a pool of blood, her skull fractured, and with internal injuries that required surgery, according to court and police records. Two weeks later, Shanahan sent his ex-wife’s brother a memo arguing that his son had acted in self-defense.
“Use of a baseball bat in self-defense will likely be viewed as an imbalance of force,” Shanahan wrote. “However, Will’s mother harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.”
Jesus, this is awful. For all of them. You'd like to think that Shanahan didn't find out he'd be leaving when the president* tweeted that he'd already left, but who in the hell knows? There's no chance the president* felt a lick of empathy for Shanahan's troubles.
And, once again, an acting Cabinet secretary will be replaced by another acting Cabinet secretary, and I wouldn't stand on one leg waiting for the administration* to put Esper's confirmation before the Senate, either. The president* already has said that he "likes acting." From The New York Times:
“I like acting. It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that?” Mr. Trump told reporters in January before departing to Camp David. “I like acting. So we have a few that are acting. We have a great, great cabinet.”
This is the most obvious game plan imaginable for an authoritarian simpleton. Hire temp workers and they'll be so concerned about keeping you happy-and, thereby, keeping their jobs-that they won't tell you anything you don't want to hear. This president* doesn't like to hear things he doesn't want to hear, as some of his now-former pollsters recently discovered.
The problem with having temp workers heading the departments of the national executive is that it embeds a strong strain of chaos and indecision in the structure of the government. That this might be what the president* wants to do is a madman proposition on the best of days, but with things heating up in the Persian Gulf, my guess is that we'd do a lot better with a Secretary of Defense whose business cards are written in disappearing ink.
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