Is Trump's staff conning Don the Con Man? It sure looks like it!
Trump campaigned on doing things right away. His staff is obliging him by giving him one-page orders to sign in rapid succession that are nothing but boiler-plate and vague statements of what he'd like. In addition to being fatally vague they are almost all barred any effect by existing federal law or the Constitution.
The con is being conned!
Donald Trump and his supporters will learn in due course that it does NOT pay to be ignorant! He is ignorant of the Constitution and federal law. His current dog-and-pony show should therefore end in disillusionment for his supporters as the so-called orders run into a bunch of federal judges. Meantime he has enraged environmentalists, women, human rights advocates, federal workers, and others who know how to organize and retaliate.
How do I know his executive orders are zilch? I am an attorney, I have written legislation, and I have taught law school classes in legislative drafting and analysis. My biggest case wins have been based on careful analysis of statutes.Most of Trump's executive orders for which I have seen texts are a bunch of nothing. Others clearly contravene existing law. Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Illegal
So just trust me on this one. I can thus spare you a tedious examination of the wording of his orders, orders now floating down like the snowfall outside my window. You can take my word: almost all his orders are by and large useless. Like the snowflakes, they will melt away.
That is, if our system of checks and balances works. Will the judges stand firm? I have more confidence in the ones President Obama appointed, but I don't abandon hope in the GOP-appointed judges. They may indeed be ethically responsible people and patriotic enough to do their duty.
As for the Supreme Court and these pseudo-orders, it may be years before cases challenging the orders get to the Court, the average journey taking about eight years. Hopefully Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg can hang on for four years until we get Trump out and can have a Democratically-appointed judge replace her instead of the Clarence Thomas clone Trump would likely choose. (Remember that the seat now open was held by the granite-brain Scalia. It's hard to imagine Trump could find a worse judge to replace Scalia, but he'll undoubtedly try. In any event, the Court will not essentially get worse than it's been if Trump has just this one appointment..)
Look also for another barrier to Trump's orders being effective. The federal employees generally love the subject matter of their jobs whether protecting our forests or fighting disease or protecting us from bad food. They will not placidly accept Trump's attacks on their work. To fight him, they can — and will — foot-drag forever. I know from my eight years working for Governor Jerry Brown in his first governorship of California when I served in the next rank to cabinet secretary. Not long after I got to Sacramento, an old hand in the civil service took me to lunch one day. "It takes forever to turn a big ship" he said. "You political people come and go. We staff go on forever."
Then I watched the implications of that unfold around me, and I countered by being very, very nice to the staff. If you are nice to people they are generally nice right back. Of course, I never asked them to betray their basic mission. But I did do something equally challenging; I asked them to go the extra mile, to get something extra done, or to expedite something. When other people wanted stuff done, they contacted me. "You're the one who can get things done around here." I even had requests like that from long-time legislators as well as administrators and citizen groups. I had learned how to turn the ship, thanks to that old guy who was named Frank and is now long dead. As a result the people of California owe many parks, beaches, redwoods, historic sites and other good things to good old Frank's wise words.
Now just imagine how little love the federal employees already have toward Trump. They have been his ultimate whipping boys/gals throughout his campaign. All his condemnation of Washington D.C. is ultimately aimed at them. Plus he has even made the mistake of allowing talk in his campaign of ending the federal employee unions and getting rid of civil service. Trump campaign against bureaucracy alarms federal workers
Them's fighting words, Mac!
It's a challenge to the ranks of one of the finest group of workers in any government in the world! It's a proposed attack on the integrity of government we have achieved through the civil service system.
Not only has he tried to make the civi servants fearful, but he is not nice to people. He fawns on the few, including Obama briefly. But he is generally a snide and arrogant man. No one is gonna love this boss!
Add to all this that he has — with a couple of exceptions — appointed obviously incompetent people to head the federal departments. These nominees know nothing about the work of the departments in question. Even worse, some of them have vowed to destroy the department to which they are named and to undo all its achievements.
This is not a good way to ingratiate oneself with the rank and file, is it?
Trump's destruction-minded proposed cabinet secretaries are in for a rough ride. I like to start out thinking small, e.g. no toilet paper in their executive bathrooms. Phones that don't work. Messages that "got lost". AC that fails in their offices in the midst of D.C.'s sweatbox summers.
And leaks! Leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks.
Like Nixon, Trump will be tempted to create a group of "plumbers" to fix the leaks. And that was Nixon's road to Watergate! (I see Trump headed already for impeachment. More on that another time soon.)
Already hot stuff is leaking out of such super-sealed venues as the White House staff and also this week's meeting of the GOP to plan strategy. From the latter we even have an audio tape on which GOP Congressmen can be heard bemoaning the impossibility of repealing Obamacare and replacing it. In Private, G.O.P. Agonizes Over Health Law Repeal
Did a waiter make this tape as happened in 2012 to Mitt Romney and his "47%" speech?
Since Trump notoriously fails to pay "the little people" who work for him, I'll bet the waiters of the world really hate him. Well, now I am getting carried away, but the truth remains: everybody you kick on your way up is waiting to kick you on your way down.
Trump and his minions have sown lots of ill will. Even now the chickens are gathering for the flight home to roost.
Trump's smug crowing will soon be drowned out by the real roosters asserting their rule in their own yards of government territory.
It isn't easy to turn a big ship.
(And how's that for mixing metaphors? Chickens and sailing ships.)