Trump Says He’s Not Even Trying to Staff the Government. He’s Probably Lying.

On Fox & Friends this morning, Brian Kilmeade asked President Trump why he’s been so slow to fill the thousands of open government jobs that are presidential appointees. Trump said it was because he didn’t want to fill them. “A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint someone because they’re unnecessary to have,” Trump said. “In government, we have too many people.” Nancy LeTourneau comments:

That is an important admission as it reflects on both Trump and his so-called “shadow president,” Steve Bannon. As we’ve already noted, in his speech at CPAC, Bannon suggested that one of his main goals was the deconstruction of the administrative state. Leaving important policy positions open is step one in that process. Of course, that also leads to the kind of incompetence and chaos that we’ve already witnessed from this White House. But for Bannon, that is more likely a feature than a bug.

Hmmm. Do you think that’s what’s happening? When I first heard Trump say this, I took it for one of his standard off-the-cuff lies. In reality, his administration is just sluggish and incompetent, but he could hardly admit that. So he came up with some other explanation.1

But if he is telling the truth, he must be surrounded by morons. The open jobs are all relatively high-ranking positions that implement the president’s will. If you don’t fill them, the bureaucracy is likely to keep lumbering along out of sheer inertia, and that means doing whatever it’s used to, not what Trump wants it to do. The more high-level positions you fill with loyalists, the better chance you have of pushing the bureaucracy in the direction you want it go.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. At this time next year, if Trump still hasn’t filled a substantial number of positions, then he was telling the truth—and he’s surrounded by morons. But if they are mostly filled, it means he was just making up the usual Trumpian hokum on the fly to cover up for his own managerial ineptitude.

1And a really good one, too! Credit where it’s due, Trump’s extemporaneous bullshitting skills are outstanding.