For a man prone to superlatives, Donald Trump sure seems comfortable with mediocrity in his key appointments. I’m not talking about ideology here. I’m talking about competence and experience. There are plenty of whip-smart hard-right conservatives who know their way around government.
But Trump surrounds himself with nincompoops, neophytes, family members and sycophantic retainers. Jared Kushner is in charge of everything but the White House kitchen. Ivanka meets with world leaders. Spicey, who admittedly has a crap job, is terrible at it. Bannon is by all accounts smart, but otherwise looks and acts like a homeless person. Then there’s Manafort, Burwell, Roger Stone, Boris Shteyngart, Omarosa….why?
The answer we’d like to believe is that better-qualified people have too much honor and self-respect to work for Donald Trump.
Don’t believe it.
When the President of the United States, even Cheeto Jesus, asks you to join his team, and if his policy views even mildly overlap with yours, it’s very tough to say no. Trump could have had an inner circle that was seasoned, informed and good at their job.
I think the simpler, and therefore more likely to be correct, answer is because Donald is bent. And bent people need other bent people who won’t rat them out and won’t have moral qualms about doing more bent stuff.
Neither the corporate world nor even the government fits this paradigm well. Instead, look at the Sopranos: a wily, blustery capo surrounded by wackos and hangers-on, and a family that chooses to ignore Tony’s criminal behavior because they like the BMWs and bling. They’re all complicit, they’re all at risk–which makes them loyal in a way an untainted person could never be.
Viewed this way, Trump’s HR strategy makes more sense. The innermost circle is family (including Jared, son of a felon). The next ring out is the bent brigade, many of whom could easily wind up doing a perp walk for everything from perjury to working for a foreign government to money laundering to fraud. They’re all in this together, thick as the proverbial thieves.
Big Pussy? Chris Christie. Silvio, with that pompadour? Bannon. Christopher? Jared. Omarosa? KellyAnn. See? It all fits. Feel free to fill out the rest of the cast before they start stamping out license plates.