When I was in fourth grade, I was invited to a birthday party. I showed up in my Halloween costume because her birthday was in late October and it was thus a costume party. As I stood with my mother and rang the doorbell, I noticed the lights were dim inside the house and I could not hear the sounds of a party. The girl’s mother answered the door, confused. I felt the all-too familiar burning blush inflame my cheeks as I looked inside the relatively empty foyer and realized there was no party.
Turns out I had the wrong weekend. Her mother clearly felt for the idiotic little fourth grader standing in her doorway wearing a bedazzled witch hat; she kept offering food, beverages, anything to distract from our insanely awkward situation. My mother and and I declined all offers and skedaddled as fast as we could. “See you next weekend!” the girl’s mother kept saying. But at that point, I was too humiliated and I never went to the party.
Politico recently reported that Trump appointees who have yet to be confirmed are showing up to the White House anyway. It’s fitting, for the Trump White House to behave like a bunch of fourth graders.
Unconfirmed nominees are barred from doing the same or similar work as they would be if confirmed, in accordance with the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. But the White House claims these employees are simply acting as advisors to their potential future departments.
One such nominee is Mary Waters, suggested for the role of assistant secretary of state of legislative affairs. She was nominated in July and though she has yet to be confirmed. Still, the work she has been doing so closely reflects the role she hasn’t yet been granted that she has been invited to events under the above title.
Imagine if instead of scampering home to cry, I had gone into their house and threw my own party.
It makes one wonder: when Justice Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to confirm any Obama nominee, maybe Merrick Garland should have just showed up to the Supreme Court in a black robe and just stayed.
In fairness, with regards to Obama, he too made appointments that never saw confirmation. Jane Nishida, for example, served as acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s international affairs office and continues to do so in the Trump administration. So we’ve learned… everyone in government is in primary school?
The trouble is that administrations who engage in these practices tend not to publicize them or leave official directives. Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told E&E News “It’s very tough to conduct oversight without an organizational chart.”
The United States government faces an ethical demise because there is no flow chart available to stop it.
Ultimately, the obvious difference is that I was a kid who couldn’t read a calendar, while these are seasoned government officials and experts pretending checks and balances are irrelevant. I cried and stayed home in shame while these fourth graders just threw up their hands and named themselves assistant secretaries of recess anyway.