An administration of clueless amateurs

March 9, 2018 GMT

The New York Times has a story on Dr. Ben Carson that explores the tough time he is having running the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Carson has been accused of nepotism and exorbitant office redecorating costs while working for President Donald Trump who is indifferent to the goals of HUD.

The headline of the story speaks to his challenges: “Ben Carson of HUD on His Vexing Reign: Brain Surgery Was Easier Than This, Is Running HUD Harder Than Brain Surgery?”

It is probably safe to say that running HUD is not harder than brain surgery but it does require a different set of skills and experiences.

The reputation Carson had earned as a brilliant neurosurgeon does not automatically qualify him to run HUD where he has no background in housing.

Criticism has also marred Betsy DeVos’s first year as secretary of education. The billionaire philanthropist assumed her position as education secretary with no prior public school experience. Many education experts give her a failing grade on policy and effectiveness.

The experiences of Carson and DeVos are similar to many other Trump appointees.

In addition to constant chaos, one of the hallmarks of the Trump administration is that it is filled with too many unqualified people in key positions.

A wealthy real estate developer, Trump was supposed to bring business savvy to running the federal government.

“I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” Trump said on the campaign trail.

He hasn’t.

Take a look at special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. So far, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, have been indicted for a host of financial crimes related to their work for a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party. Former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to charges he lied to the FBI regarding contact with Russian nationals during the campaign.

Hope Hicks recently became the fourth White House communications chief to depart the job in under a year.

Trump will soon have to appoint his fifth communications chief, in just over a year in office. His predecessor Barack Obama had just five during eight years. George W. Bush had four during his two terms.

In addition to incompetence, several Trump appointees have resigned from their posts after their racist comments came to public attention.

In January, Carl Higbie, appointed by Trump to direct external affairs for the federal government’s volunteer service organizations, resigned from his post after a number of racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ and other offensive statements made in the last five years were brought to public attention.

In November, the Rev. Jamie Johnson, who was appointed to head the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships, abruptly resigned from his post after CNN reported that he had made offensive statements about Black people and Muslims on conservative talk radio.

In August, William Bradford, an appointee to the Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy, resigned after comments made online, some of which questioned Obama’s birth certificate, were attributed to his account.

Perhaps the most potentially damaging appointee is the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a real estate developer with no previous experience in government or diplomacy who the president has given broad influence in foreign affairs.

Recent reports revealed that several foreign governments planned to take advantage of Kushner’s inexperience and business conflict of interest.

With so many officials being inexperienced or incompetent the Trump administration must receive serious scrutiny and accountability.