If These Are The Best People, I’d Hate To Meet The Worst Ones

Dana Milbank has been on a roll ever since Trump was inaugurated. I have been reading his (increasingly snarky) columns in the Washington Post regularly, and recommend them highly.

In a recent column, Milbank considered the various snaky characters who’ve accompanied Trump to Washington. Remember that campaign boast about “the best people”? Trump was going to drain that swamp and bring “the best people” to government. I hate to channel Sarah Palin, but “how’s that hopey-changey thing working out?”

Milbank starts with Sam Clovis, a minor figure who Trump nominated to be Chief Scientist at the Agriculture Department. (Clovis has withdrawn from consideration after being caught up in the Papadopoulos disclosures).

For those who had not heard of Clovis before (which is pretty much everybody), he has been nominated to be the chief scientist at the Agriculture Department, a position that by law must go to “distinguished scientists,” even though he is, well, not a scientist. He is a talk-radio host, economics professor (though not actually an economist, either) and, most importantly, a Trump campaign adviser.

Milbank notes some of Clovis’ “scientific” positions: he’s a climate change skeptic, says  homosexuality is “a choice” leading to pedophilia, endorses birtherism, calls Eric Holder a “racist bigot” and Tom Perez a “racist Latino.”

Clovis has lots of equally disreputable company. A group called American Oversight has compiled information on the “best people” who worked on the Trump campaign and subsequently got cushy jobs in the administration; the list is nothing if not enlightening.

There’s Sid Bowdidge, who is now assistant to the secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy. He previously managed a Meineke Car Care branch in Seabrook, N.H. and before that, worked for tire shops. (He lost his job after it was discovered he had called Muslims “maggots.”)

Victoria Barton now handles congressional relations for Regions II, V and VI of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Between 2013 and 2015, she was a “bartender/bar manager.” (Don’t get me started on the housing expertise of her boss, Ben Carson…)

Christopher Hagan, a confidential assistant at the Agriculture Department, was a “cabana attendant” at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y.  David Matthews, another confidential assistant, developed scented candles while also serving as a “legal receptionist.”

Some of the other “best” people Trump has hired are well known. Lynne Patton, HUD regional administrator, previously arranged Trump golf tournaments and arranged Eric Trump’s wedding, among other things. Callista Gingrich, just confirmed as ambassador to the Vatican, prepared for this by writing children’s books, singing in a church choir — and being married to Trump ally Newt Gingrich.

Others now in high office are less known: an office page, the author of an anti-Clinton book, a Christian-school librarian, a couple of real estate brokers and a landscaper. Many don’t appear to meet the educational qualifications for their positions. But they did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Milbank didn’t bother to describe those we know: the sorry gang of cabinet officials who range from embarrassing to unqualified to antagonistic to the missions of their agencies. Or the White House “advisors” qualified by virtue of nepotism and/or ability to suck up to the single most unqualified member of the administration, Donald Trump.

We live in a complicated and increasingly dangerous world, and we have elected a President who has absolutely no idea what government does, and no understanding of or respect for the skills and knowledge needed to administer it. Donald Trump ran for President to feed his ego. I seriously doubt that he expected to win; he was simply promoting his brand. He’s a sad and embarrassing buffoon, and he’s surrounded himself with the kind of people who actually look up to someone using a gold toilet.

The same sort of people who voted for him.



  1. As a fellow insomniac, let me be the first to appreciate this expose’ of the elves that Trump has hired to fill jobs that will do little to improve the nation in any capacity. Yes, this is pure nepotism, something political swamps thrive on.

    Then, this is just another brick in the wall that will eventually fall taking Humpty Trumpty down with it. I guess if we didn’t try to find humor, dark though it may be, in this, our second biggest mistake, we’d all be weeping into dehydration status.

    We all must keep pushing the people who matter to get this fool out of office and to sweep the little mice and rats out with him. That means we have to do what sane Virginians did yesterday: Elect Democrats who are ethical and solid citizens. When we can take back the House from the evil of Paul Ryan’s clutches and the Senate from the drooling foolishness of Mitch McConnell, we can get Trump impeached, convicted of high crimes and kicked out of our lives forever. Oh, and let’s not forget to sweep the egregious Mike Pence out with him.

    Now, let’s all go back to bed and get some sleep.

  2. Yesterday’s election APPEARS to have taken the first step in removing the Trump administration’s roadblocks to safety and sanity. The road ahead is unpaved, this is new ground for all of us who love and were once proud of this country and want to be proud again. I will borrow (plagiarize) a term used by a reporter whose name I have forgotten to describe radio talk show host Stan Solomon; these “best people” “have an IQ a step above the speed limit in a school zone”. For those unfamiliar with Solomon or have forgotten; he was Goldsmith’s BFF during his brief tenure here with his morning radio program. He was foul-mouthed but did make one funny remark when he announced he would be with Goldsmith and wondered how many people in Indianapolis were aware two Jews would be lighting the Christmas Tree on Monument Circle. But I digress.

    Our world was made far more complicated and became more dangerous to each of us personally since the unexpected and unbelievable acceptance speech by Trump at approximately 2:30 a.m. on November 9, 2016. My fear set in immediately; but it could in no way prepare me for what was to come once he was inaugurated and Fascism was set in motion. We have fools with limited support staff running federal departments they do not comprehend even the reason for the department or the work they must accomplish. Those who worked on the Trump campaign such as Carter Page; squirmed back under their rocks till drug into the sunlight to expose their direct Russian associations. The special investigation of Page must have been like Albert Einstein questioning Mortimer Snerd without Edgar Bergen to give him a voice.

    The Pences will be in Texas today to relay their “thoughts and prayers” to resolve the issues behind the mass killing of Baptist Church parishioners, including one family of 8 members. When we have an elected Republican in Congress who was shot on a baseball field by a man using a “bump stock” and nearly died, more than once requiring a number of surgeries, who publicly stated “It is every American’s right to buy conversion kits and “bump stocks” to convert their weapons to fully automatic”; we know there is no hope for salvation from the current administration.

    Will the retreat from reelection by current members of Congress work in our favor or work against us? Will Bannon’s continuing rampages since being forced out of the White House help or hinder the 2018 elections? Why is Dr. Ben Carson, a world renown brain surgeon our Secretary of HUD? Why am I asking questions which can only be answered by the “best people” who are running this country today?

  3. Theresa – I agree and have actually used the word deplorable lately to describe the despicable people who hold the most power in our fed government.

  4. Nancy – it all reminds me of that famous line in the movie The Queen where the prime minister asks of the Queen’s staff, “Where do they get these people?!”

  5. As we have been reading lately, there are plenty of deplorable people holding positions on both sides of the political aisle. We should be questioning why our body politics is attracting so many deplorable people.

    For one, our government doesn’t serve the people any longer. I’m not sure it ever did. It’s a place where sociopaths thrive and stealing from the people is the norm. It’s corrupted from the top on down. Trump was right…it is a swamp.

    But he isn’t draining the swamp or eliminating any of its creatures. Remember, Trump and his cronies come from the private sector – not our public sector. The private sector is shadier than our body politics.

    Trump is replacing swamp creatures from the government with swamp monsters from free market capitalism. Quite frankly, a cronyistic kleptocracy thrives in both sectors of our economy.

    “In a society that rewards greed; corruption is expected.”

    Young Americans embrace socialism more than ever before because they have access to knowledge at their fingertips (literally). The propaganda needed to keep our faulty systems together isn’t working for younger Americans. It’s also why Hillary lost the <35 crowd. She exemplifies everything wrong with our political and capitalistic systems.

  6. What happened yesterday was turnout from an aroused citizenry who got off the couch to protect their democracy from the Bannon-inspired and Trump-embraced idea of “destruction of the administrative state,” perhaps to be supplanted with a fascist state under the aegis of hard right libertarians designed to extract that last penny from us proles. I am encouraged that a majority of our voting citizens finally recognized this existential threat of the potential for our descent into banana republic or even failed state status, and reacted accordingly.
    Per Sheila’s topic for today > Evidence of Trump’s plan to destroy our democracy and what little faith we may still have in government is found in his appointment of subordinates who are working hard to destroy agencies they have been entrusted to lead (see DeVos, Pruitt, Perry et al.), and they are doing a good job of it. I am hopeful that Republicans after yesterday will see their leader for what he is and stand up to his attempts to destroy our democratic values held in common, rejecting his divisive and racist chatter and assigning him the irrelevancy which he has earned as an ignorant, immoral and ineffective pretender to leadership.

  7. Gerald; I think that 7.6% voter increase in Virginia alone is a major message to the current administration; but will it encourage all voters to get off their butts and vote…or will they become complacent and think their vote is not needed? America is filled with lazy people; that is how we got where we are today. Anything worth having is worth fighting for; that begins and ends with democracy. It wasn’t handed to us as Trump’s vast fortune was; it was fought for and we must fight to bring it back and continue our fight not to lose it again.

  8. Professor, no worries about the extra post yesterday! It was fabulous.

    And can you imagine the good people that live and work in DC who have to report to these deplorables? Can you imagine what their day-to-day is like? I can only feel like those people need a daily hug just to get through it. I hope we have some sanity coming back to our government soon.

  9. Yesterday was a start.

    We can count on Trump finding ways to continue to get less popular but that’s insufficient. There is still a chance that the country won’t end in nuclear holocaust before next year so sensible American have to prepare for monumental elections then and two years later.

    We owe that to everyone who built the country that we were oh so fortunate to exist within; the one that Trumpians have vowed to destroy.

    Where are the heroes? Who are they? We need the best to vote for and empower to drain the real swamp, Trump/Pence/McConnell/Ryan, and restore the real America back to power. We have monumental restoration work to do and it’s ours to launch. Ours. Unity.

    Democracy doesn’t require everyone to agree, to see eye to eye. It requires collaboration towards the common goal.

  10. The current line-up in federal agencies is a reflection of Trump’s “business expertise”. He was a CEO of a family business; he was never accountable to a board of directors or stockholders. He made a lot of money by bankrupting formerly profitable companies for his personal gain. His expertise is limited to his ability to lie and cheat. He doesn’t care at all about the US; he is focused on profiting personally from being president. He has surrounded himself with people who reflect his values.

  11. JoAnn – You have asked the $64,000 question > How do we keep the people in general aroused, beginning with the fall of 2018? Well, one could argue that we just keep on keeping on since our persistence and perseverance in fearlessly telling the truth seems to have borne fruit yesterday. Everything is subject to change, however, including our methodology in keeping the pot boiling, so we must be aware of and sensitive to adjustments in our approach to keeping wood on the fire. I am not worried about the fire in general, since Trump will doubtless keep us well supplied with dry kindling, and since he is showing us the horrible alternative, it may be that he turns out to be our best campaigner for a long overdue appreciation of our democratic values, ones that he wishes to destroy as a wannabe authoritarian. So it’s onward, and yesterday tells us we are winning the battle of public opinion. Let’s continue to persevere but simultaneously remain attentive to changes in approach as we head for 2018.

  12. Yes, yesterday’s election was a good start. But, I think it had more to do with the Trump effect on voters than it did from quality campaigns or candidates from the Democrats. If the Democrats, as an organized entity, can get their act together, employ a fifty-state strategy and field QUALITY candidates, we the people can rescue democracy and the nation from the clutches of these third-world wankers and posiers who are just ripping us all off.

  13. Clovis- not the cop’s cat in Sleepwalkers- is from my neck of the cornfields in iowa. I should wash my mouth out with squeezings from a CAFO pit. (think liquid hog manure)

  14. Guessing the Democratic victories in yesterday’s elections are only going to spur Ryan and his cabal of Tea Partiers to hurry up and get that tax “reform” thing done before they might be shown the door in 2018. Might be their last chance (hopefully) in a while.

    As for sending a message to Trump and his bunch in Washington, D.C., it will just be more “fake news.” Trump doesn’t receive, let alone acknowledge, any messages that aren’t about how “Great” a President he is. And like Ryan and his thieves in Congress , I suspect it will just result in Trump’s deplorables speeding up their efforts to dismantle the Federal government as quickly as possible.

    Nonetheless, yesterday was a good start for the Democrats.

  15. David F; I would really like to get in touch with you, not only to share memories from the old neighborhood but to share thoughts about our new “neighborhood” here on the Internet. I would give Sheila permission to share my E-mail address with you if interested. Growing up in the same area of Indianapolis but being two of so few who were not drawn into the racism and bigotry of that era and that place, maybe you know of others.

  16. JoAnn:
    Your maiden name doesn’t ring an immediate “bell.” But then I’m constantly made fun of by family and old friends for not remembering a lot of details of my early childhood and adolescent days that they are sure I should remember.

    My family moved from W. Pruitt St — between Riverside Dr. and Harding St., when I was in the 5th grade and about 10 years old. Pretty good place to be a kid at the time. Mom would throw us out the door in the morning (when no school), and expect us back for lunch. We’d pretty much free range roam the alleys and neighborhood. But thanks to the other moms in the neighborhood and the joys of a party line telephone, she pretty much knew where we were all the time and even (worse for us) what we were doing with the other kids. We also used to play baseball, football whatever on the South Grove golf course (before they fenced it off) until they would come and run us off. At this point, don’t actually recall a lot of names of the other students at I.P.S. #44. I do recall the names of two girls who were in my class at 44; Linda Johnston and Sue Roller, because their families moved to the same north side neighborhood as my family and also attended P.S. #59. But happy to reminisce.

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