Sunday, July 30, 2017

Personnel management in the White House

The Sessions mess isn't the only personnel drama going on in the White House, of course.  Remember all of that nonsense about how we should have a businessman in the White House because they know how to run things?

Yeah.  So, we now have The Mooch.  Anthony Scaramucci.

This really is serious, but not for the reasons the pearl-clutchers suggest.

Obviously, I don't give a rat's ass about Scaramucci's use of Germanic-rooted words.  Yes, he says words like, "cock."  Clutch those pearls!  I've ranted enough about this in the past that I won't do another full rant here, but I'll just point out the stupidity of being more bothered by that than by the Cain & Abel reference me made in describing his relationship with Reince Priebus.  Dude!  That story is about murder!  He got more flack for saying a Germanic-rooted word than tacitly threatening murder.  Something is very wrong with how this society deals with language.  But, I've ranted about this before, so I'll just move on now...

Anyway, the businessman-as-superhero notion has been floating around, particularly in Republican circles, for a long time.  It tends to go along with the Ayn Rand worship.  One of the things a businessman should be able to handle is personnel management.  Hire good people, create a good working environment, and good things happen.  That's how a business turns a profit.

Government isn't a business.  The job of government isn't to turn a profit.  If government did turn a profit, um, there'd be a problem.  I'd want a fuckin' refund on my damned taxes!  Working environment still matters, though, and while there are multiple models of a functional working environments, we obviously aren't seeing one.  If we were, we wouldn't be seeing the internecine warfare, constant leaks, etc.

Why not?  Because Trump never had to create a real, successful working environment in the business world either.  Remember that he wasn't really the head of a major, multinational corporation, or anything like that.  In fact, he inherited a lot of money from his father, and then lost it by being a fucking idiot.  Then, he made it back by going on tv and playing the role of an ostentatious rich guy.  His operation has always been based on nepotism.  Why are his kids his closest advisors?  Because he has always operated that way and he doesn't know any other way.  He never learned the skills.

In an interesting way, this leaves open the question of what would happen if a real businessperson were to become president.  What if, say, Jeff Bezos (to pick a name Trump would hate) became President?  Bezos clearly knows what he's doing.  He is a far smarter businessperson than Trump, and obviously knows how to construct an organization.  Would those skills really translate?  Trump's utter failure to manage his personnel tells us nothing because he was clearly destined to fail all along.

If I had to speculate, I'd guess that Bezos wouldn't do very well.  The structure of government is too different.  He'd do better than Trump, but that's a low bar.  At the end of the day, yes, the president needs to manage personnel and create an environment in which things happen non-chaotically, but the president operates within constraints that no CEO faces.  The checks and balances, which Trump still doesn't understand and still finds endlessly frustrating, are so fundamentally different from anything in the business world, and yet so central to the job of the presidency that the businessman-as-political-superhero notion still strikes me, and probably most other political scientists, as a bad joke.  Trump is failing abysmally, but he is the worst test of the model one can imagine, given that he is an incompetent moron.

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