Not many of us can keep track of all the mediocrities who are fully dysfunctional in the Trump administration.
Not many of us want to keep track of how Trump and his mediocrities have emptied the federal government of the sort of quality professionals our government needs in order to run effectively.
Today, the Times published this: “Job Vacancies and Inexperience Mar Federal Response to Coronavirus: Unfilled jobs and high turnover mean the government is ill equipped for a public health crisis, said many former and current federal officials and disaster experts.”
Here are a few excerpts to give you an idea of the emptiness and empty-headedness within our federal government. I’m breaking up the paragraphs so you can pause to take deep breaths. I’m also bolding the names of the agencies.
WASHINGTON — Of the 75 senior positions at the Department of Homeland Security, 20 are either vacant or filled by acting officials, including Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary who recently was unable to tell a Senate committee how many respirators and protective face masks were available in the United States.
Wolf, drew…criticism from lawmakers when he failed to provide basic information on the coronavirus outbreak at a Senate appropriations hearing. “Mr. Secretary, you’re supposed to keep us safe,” said Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana. “You’re the secretary of homeland security and you can’t tell me if we have enough respirators.”
Mr. Wolf said the United States was “several months” away from getting a vaccine. “Your numbers aren’t the same as C.D.C.’s,” Mr. Kennedy said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Don’t you think you ought to contact them?”
The National Park Service, which like many federal agencies is full of vacancies in key posts, tried this week to fill the job of a director for the national capital region after hordes of visitors flocked to see the cherry blossoms near the National Mall, creating a potential public health hazard as the coronavirus continues to spread.
At the Department of Veterans Affairs, workers are scrambling to order medical supplies on Amazon after its leaders, lacking experience in disaster responses, failed to prepare for the onslaught of patients at its medical centers.
The [Veterans Affairs] secretary, Robert L. Wilkie, has no experience in emergency management, and he has been largely absent from public briefings with senior officials on the pandemic…Mr. Wilkie recently fired his second in command, who had worked in past disasters, and his head of emergency preparedness retired.
One high-profile case came with eliminating a directorate at the White House’s National Security Council that was charged with pandemic preparations. In 2018, John R. Bolton, then Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, ousted Thomas P. Bossert, Mr. Trump’s homeland security adviser and longtime disaster expert. The directorate was folded into an office dedicated to weapons of mass destruction.
Equally notable may have been the resignation last year of Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, who was an early advocate for broad coronavirus testing and stronger mitigation policies. He was succeeded by Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, a noted oncologist, who has struggled during Senate hearings to explain some of his positions…Many members of Mr. Gottlieb’s team departed with him, leaving the agency with many people new to their jobs.
…Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, is scrambling to have enough officials in place to accommodate the additional workload stemming from four emergency lending programs, two new stimulus bills and a delayed Tax Day, even as departures are in store…Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the Treasury Department is the thin staffing at the Internal Revenue Service. The tax collection agency has faced deep cuts to its budget over the last decade, leaving some of its technology out of date.
Now the I.R.S. must cope with Tax Day being delayed by three months and a deluge of questions from confused taxpayers calling employees that are teleworking. The shortfall in staff is likely to be especially problematic as the Treasury Department tries to send stimulus money to Americans by using the I.R.S.’s taxpayer database to track them down.
Even the Pentagon, which is broadly viewed as better positioned than many other agencies for the pandemic response, is not immune. More than a third of all Senate-confirmed civilian positions at the Defense Department are vacant or filled by temporary officials, a peak level for the administration outside of the transition period, according to Pentagon statistics. Of 60 senior positions, 21 lack permanent appointees.
I’m being kind to call these characters “mediocrities,” but I don’t know the word for “beneath mediocre.”
Would it be gratuitous for me to mention that we have an Acting Chief Executive, too?