Trump's worst sin against Ronny Jackson

In 2005, President George W. Bush stunned his supporters by nominating his White House counsel and former personal la...

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 10:22 AM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 10:22 AM

In 2005, President George W. Bush stunned his supporters by nominating his White House counsel and former personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, to the Supreme Court. While Miers was beloved by staffers inside the White House, even right-wing commentators considered Bush's decision reckless.

"However nice, helpful, prompt and tidy she is, Harriet Miers isn't qualified to play a Supreme Court justice on 'The West Wing' let alone be a real one," Ann Coulter wrote at the time.

Meanwhile, Democrats attacked the pick as an example of cronyism.

After what Bush later called "three terrible weeks," Miers phoned the president. It was late at night and Bush was working in his office in the Treaty Room. Miers told Bush she wanted him to withdraw her nomination.

"I put my friend in an impossible situation," Bush later recounted in his memoir, "Decision Points."

"If I had it to do over again, I would not have thrown Harriet to the wolves of Washington."

Bush soon chose Samuel Alito, who had elite legal credentials. Conservatives cheered the pick, and though Alito still had a rough confirmation process, the Senate confirmed him.

The Miers debacle has served ever since as a cautionary tale for presidents. The main lessons were that presidents should pick personnel for top positions who were a) at least minimally qualified and b) not viewed as cronies.

As with so many lessons of previous presidencies, the Miers episode seems quaint in the age of President Donald Trump. Trump has appointed his daughter and son-in-law to senior positions in the West Wing. His picks for top cabinet positions have been sent to the Senate with little or no vetting, putting Congress more firmly in charge of a scrubbing process to which the White House previously paid a great deal of attention.

The Presidential Personnel Office, which is in charge of recruiting potential administration officials, has been hobbled by inexperience and incompetence. In a devastating investigation, The Washington Post recently reported that the leadership of the office, rife with cronyism, includes "a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking."

So few could have been surprised that Trump chose Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, to run the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs. Like Miers, Jackson was well-liked by White House staffers. Like Miers, both the right and the left found the pick shocking and embarrassing.

Given the impulsiveness of the decision, it was predictable that Jackson, the subject of apparently no White House vetting, would run into trouble in the Senate. On Monday, a hearing on his nomination was canceled amid vague allegations of professional misconduct and it became apparent Jackson's nomination was in grave danger.

On Tuesday afternoon, Trump delivered what may have been the final blow. In a rambling stream-of-consciousness answer to a question about Jackson's status, Trump, as he often does, narrated the drama over his VA pick as if he wasn't the president who nominated him.

"I said to Dr. Jackson, 'What do you need it for?'" Trump told reporters. "So we'll see what happens. I don't want to put a man through who's not a political person. I don't want to put a man through a process like this. It's too ugly and too disgusting. So we'll see what happens. He'll make a decision."

All of this was Trump's fault: he picked someone without the proper experience or vetting. Then, when the decision blew up, he shrugged and wondered in public why his nominee would want to be put through such a process in the first place. He spoke like a bystander who had nothing to do with it.

If Jackson withdraws, as seems likely, the difference between how Bush and Trump handled their missteps is instructive. Bush stuck with her until she withdrew on her own, never hinting in public that he had made a mistake. (Miers stayed in her job at the White House for more than another year.) He later took responsibility for putting her through the ordeal. Bush's sin was extreme loyalty to a personal friend.

With the Jackson pick, Trump has managed to be simultaneously reckless, thoughtless and disloyal, by publicly undermining his friend at the first hint of trouble.

To borrow Bush's analogy, it's as if Trump fed someone to a pack of wolves and then asked him why he wanted to be eaten alive in the first place.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 587049

Reported Deaths: 9287
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion810691296
Lake44121665
Allen31797541
Hamilton28178303
St. Joseph26684369
Elkhart24057340
Vanderburgh18519213
Tippecanoe17305121
Johnson14398284
Porter14342159
Hendricks13793241
Madison10509212
Vigo10432171
Clark10151129
Monroe9029108
Delaware8782129
LaPorte8721153
Kosciusko784677
Howard7834137
Warrick636790
Hancock633297
Bartholomew624294
Floyd6098105
Wayne5903156
Grant5799109
Dubois541670
Boone531467
Morgan512388
Marshall492484
Henry491164
Cass469060
Noble458757
Dearborn454544
Jackson413145
Shelby401178
Lawrence379475
Clinton363639
Gibson355056
DeKalb336363
Montgomery333851
Harrison326042
Knox325439
Miami308243
Steuben304940
Adams294435
Whitley292325
Wabash291645
Ripley290845
Putnam282447
Huntington281257
Jasper280733
White265738
Daviess260772
Jefferson248538
Fayette241348
Decatur241282
Greene232460
Posey230026
Wells228547
LaGrange223461
Clay216432
Scott216437
Randolph207540
Jennings191335
Sullivan188531
Spencer179917
Fountain178625
Washington175018
Starke170741
Jay162021
Fulton158829
Owen157837
Carroll151315
Orange150533
Rush148118
Perry145327
Vermillion144333
Franklin142533
Parke12788
Tipton127332
Pike113125
Blackford107022
Pulaski94637
Newton89020
Brown85530
Benton84110
Crawford7479
Martin69213
Warren6537
Switzerland6175
Union6063
Ohio4647
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 821507

Reported Deaths: 10135
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin96935704
Cuyahoga81526972
Hamilton60913438
Montgomery41445399
Summit33096726
Lucas29981591
Butler29513227
Stark24608400
Warren18792139
Lorain17916207
Mahoning16710335
Lake15255135
Clermont15053104
Delaware1374277
Licking12595132
Trumbull12352301
Fairfield1211380
Greene11532132
Medina11033165
Clark10557264
Wood9901154
Allen9481126
Portage8802105
Miami880173
Richland8748116
Marion7305113
Tuscarawas7095174
Columbiana7047124
Pickaway699850
Wayne6729162
Muskingum665342
Erie5866117
Hancock537090
Ross526087
Scioto514862
Geauga478255
Darke456089
Ashtabula437268
Union429228
Lawrence428951
Mercer423387
Sandusky419062
Seneca411755
Auglaize410959
Huron409138
Shelby408521
Jefferson400466
Belmont392840
Washington367940
Putnam363672
Athens36229
Madison337928
Knox334922
Ashland329138
Fulton324243
Defiance317078
Crawford311968
Preble310034
Brown294419
Logan291829
Ottawa280534
Clinton278143
Williams268966
Highland261318
Jackson255243
Guernsey239425
Champaign239227
Fayette224529
Morrow22194
Perry220517
Holmes217562
Henry208847
Hardin203032
Coshocton197120
Van Wert196244
Wyandot189949
Gallia189126
Adams165515
Pike163416
Hocking161923
Carroll148016
Paulding139021
Noble117540
Meigs102421
Monroe95227
Harrison8578
Morgan78227
Vinton65613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Angola
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 22°
Huntington
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 20°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Lima
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 21°
Seasonal Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events