Restocking the Swamp

The scandal ridden Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke got the boot last week after he became too toxic even for this noxious administration.

The real toxicity, the kind that pollutes our air and water, doesn’t bother the Trump administration, which puts pleasing polluters high on its agenda.

The latest outrage is focused on Washington state, South Carolina and Idaho. That’s where the Trump’s energy department wants to reclassify high-level radioactive waste left over from the production of nuclear weapons as low-level to make it easier and cheaper to dump it, according to the Associated Press.

Zinke was doing the job Trump wanted, but he became a political liability when he entangled himself in 15 or so separate ethics and potential criminal investigations. Trump wanted him out of town before Democrats take over the House next month and put his interior secretary under oath on live television

Zinke is a poster boy for Trumpian toxicity.  His mission has been to undo regulations protecting the nation’s natural resources and turn over many of them to corporate timber, mining, oil and gas interests. His unfinished work will be carried on by his deeply conflicted deputy, David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist.   On his way out the door, Zinke offered more than 150,000 acres of public land for fracking near iconic national treasures like Arches and Canyonlands national parks, reported

Instead of protecting America’s natural resources, he put them in the hands of people from the industry they were supposed to regulate, like oil, gas, coal, water, health care and banking.

Zinke joins the likes of Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Kris Kobach, Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Sean Spicer, John Kelly, Reince Priebus, David Shulkin, Anthony Scaramucci, KT McFarland, Mike Flynn and others Trump has tossed on the trash heap of history.

Candidate Trump promised to appoint only the best; President Trump has done just the opposite. He hired a motley collection of incompetent, unqualified, unsuited, unaware, ethically challenged and scandal plagued embarrassments. The high turnover of top officials in this ethicallybankrupt administration is one historic record Trump isn’t bragging about.

That’s why he just picked Mick Mulvaney to be his acting chief of staff in addition to running the OMB and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  No one apparently wanted the job full time, so he went to his fallback guy, the former South Carolina congressman who seems to have been forgiven for calling candidate Trump “a terrible human being.”

That’s probably because it’s been tough finding quality people to work for Trump since they know it could cost them their reputation and is not something you’d want on your CV unless you’re writing a kiss-and-tell expose.

“Two years after Donald Trump won the presidency, nearly every organization he has led in the past decade is under investigation,” the Washington Post reported.

The only ones with job security, at least for now, are his family members.  After all, what good is nepotism if you can’t take care of your relatives?

Trump’s toxicity dangerously permeates foreign policy as well. Among world leaders, two of those closest to this president these days are a democrat and a despot, the Middle East’s new odd couple of Benjamin Netanyahu and Muhammad bin Salmon.

This helps explain the growing rift between Israel and American Jews. More than three in four Jews oppose Trump because they feel he’s the opposite of everything in domestic policy they believe it,  and that makes  Netanyahu’s embrace very troublesome for them.  The two leaders also are close to Hungary’s  Prime Minister Viktor Orban.  He is an authoritarian leader who speaks well of Israel but indulges growing right-wing fascism and anti-Semitism.  The trio share another target of their wrath, George Soros, the Hungarian born, Jewish philanthropist and supporter of liberal causes.

Trump borders on unctuousness toward America’s adversaries like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping, with whom he shares an autocratic bent, nationalist fervor, intense antipathy toward his critics and hostility toward the media. All three also happen to be close allies of Israel’s most dangerous allies.

In contrast, he is derisive and contemptuous toward America’s friends and allies.

Interviews with foreign leaders and policy makers as well as American experts in American and foreign publications paint a disturbing picture of the president.

Foreign leaders are troubled by his behavior and ignorance.  They paint a disturbing picture of a man moored in his preconceptions, having a minuscule attention span, trouble grasping complex issues,  and unable or uninterested in learning.

They see him willing to take Putin’s word over his own intelligence services.  They fear he is doing Putin’s bidding, consciously or otherwise, in threatening to break up the EU and NATO – two organizations important to Israel.

He prefers autocrats and strongmen, but that don’t always work out as he wishes.

His bromance with Putin, despite all the wooing and cooing during the campaign, fizzled.

Kim played him for a fool and all the world seems to know that but Trump. Not only has there been no progress on denuclearization, but Trump is softening his negotiating position, which seriously worries Israel because it might signal a weakened US position regarding Iran.

Trump started a trade war with China and then lied about negotiating a deal, sending the stock markets into a wild roller coaster ride and our 401(k)’s into a nosedive.

Relations with close allies – France, Britain, Germany, Canada – continue to deteriorate.

It is visible in America’s shrinking international stature and leadership.  Netanyahu of all people should understand this.  He may phone Putin regularly, sell top technology to China and woo assorted autocrats, but when the proverbial substance hits the rotary device, Israel’s most valuable asset is not a thin-skinned, egotistical, pathological liar facing criminal investigations of every aspect of his life, but the American Jewish community that the prime minister perilously takes for granted.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.