Analysis: Trump Replacing The Swamp With a Toxic Waste Dump

The opening paragraph of a recent report by Pro Publica, the highly-regarded non-profit, non-partisan investigative journalism project, introduces readers to some of the nation’s new Presidential appointees:

“A Trump campaign aide who argues that Democrats committed “ethnic cleansing” in a plot to ‘liquidate’ the white working class. A former reality show contestant whose study of societal collapse inspired him to invent a bow-and-arrow-cum-survivalist multi-tool. A pair of healthcare industry lobbyists. A lobbyist for defense contractors. An ‘evangelist’ and lobbyist for Palantir, the Silicon Valley company with close ties to intelligence agencies. And a New Hampshire Trump supporter who has only recently graduated from high school.”

Because the Trump administration has kept the identity of many of its hires under wraps, it’s been difficult for journalists to identify the appointees who are quietly moving into vacant offices in the federal bureaucracy. Still, by scouring news accounts for information, Pro Publica has been able to identify over 400 newly-minted Trump officials. Though this is not a complete list of the new administration’s mid- and low-level hires, it still reveals much about the Trump administration’s philosophy, priorities, and judgment.

In many respects, the collective profiles of the appointees studied by Pro Publica mirror the workings of Trump’s own mind.

Trump is a businessman. He’s made a lot of money from deals that have required political approval. And he has given generously to candidates who have supported his efforts. It’s unsurprising, then, that his appointees include at least 36 lobbyists who, until recently, worked for the industries they are now tasked with regulating. This figure is probably low, since as Pro Publica notes, it includes only “those who formally registered as lobbyists, a process increasingly avoided by many in Washington.”

Trump is also a fan of conspiracy theories and “alternative facts.” He claims he saw American Muslims on TV celebrating the 9/11 terror attacks. He thinks Barack Obama was wiretapping his offices. He argues that global climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. He insists that he won the popular vote in the recent election, that he won a historic landslide victory in the electoral college and that record crowds turned out for his inauguration. It’s not surprising, then, that many of his appointees share his predilection for making baseless claims and seeing cabals in the most mundane occurrences. These folks include:

–a columnist for WorldNetDaily who vigorously promoted the racist “birther” claim that Barack Obama was born outside the United States;

–a “prepper” who markets the above-mentioned bow-and-arrow multi-tool by breathlessly conjuring up a future in which “[t]he worst has happened. You always knew it was possible, but never dreamed it would happen so soon. The power grid is down, and you are surrounded by chaos…”; and

–a Trump campaign worker who promulgated the bogus claim that Hillary Clinton was gravely ill, at death’s door, and was unlikely to serve more than a small fraction of a term as president.

But Trump is also known for giving young people a chance to succeed. He relished hiring (and firing) young protégés on Celebrity Apprentice. He chose as his wife a woman 24 years his junior. Still, it’s a little surprising that Trump has appointed a young man to the Labor Department who graduated from high school in 2015 and who lists among his achievements the fact that he made the honor roll in sixth grade.

As the profiles of his appointees emerge, it’s becoming clear that Trump utterly disdains the federal government he nominally leads. He’s filling it with grifters, ideologues opposed to the mission the agency they’ve been appointed to, teenagers, and folks who are just plain kooky. This is apparently how he fulfills his promise to “drain the swamp” of the federal bureaucracy: by replacing it with a toxic waste dump.

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