As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump vowed to only hire “the best people” for his team. As a president, this isn’t working out especially well.
Part of the problem is that Trump has tapped a variety of officials to lead government agencies whose work they fundamentally oppose. Officials like Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Mick Mulvaney, and others are overseeing departments that, in their minds, shouldn’t even exist.
But the other part of the problem is this White House has put a variety of people in positions of authority despite backgrounds that suggest they’re woefully unqualified for the posts. Ben Carson, a retired brain surgeon, is in charge of Housing and Urban Development, for example, and he hired Eric Trump’s wedding planner to run federal HUD operations in New York and New Jersey.
Meanwhile, Politico recently reported that the president’s appointees to jobs at Agriculture Department headquarters “include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant and the owner of a scented-candle company.”
And don’t even get me started on Don Benton overseeing the Selective Service System.
Yesterday, as BuzzFeed reported, the trend continued.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday announced that pollster Kellyanne Conway, 50, counselor to President Donald Trump, would oversee White House efforts to combat the opioid overdose epidemic.
More than 64,000 people died in the US of drug overdoses in 2016, largely from opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers. Trump declared a national public health emergency over the crisis in October, and calls have emerged for an opioids “czar” to lead crisis response efforts in the last year.
Looks like Conway has the job. Trump has asked her “to coordinate and lead the effort from the White House,” Sessions said at a news conference in remarks that went beyond prepared ones from the event.
“She is exceedingly talented,” the attorney general added about Conway.
Just so we’re clear, this isn’t a joke.
This is a departure of sorts for Trump World, since we were told months ago that Jared Kushner, the president’s 36-year-old son-in-law, would oversee the White House’s response to the opioid crisis as part of his ever-expanding policy portfolio.
Yesterday, however, the project was instead put in the hands of the president’s former campaign manager, who took over late in the campaign when Trump’s first two campaign managers were ousted. (One is currently under criminal indictment.)
Does Conway have any background in coordinating federal responses to public-health emergencies? No. Does she have any experience in coordinating federal responses to anything? No. In fact, she’s a political pollster best known for saying untrue things on television.
Trump has suggested publicly that he intends to take the opioid epidemic seriously. If you believed him, I’m afraid I have some bad news.