Opinion writer

Jon Huntsman at the opening of the Wroclaw Global Forum 2016 in Wroclaw, Poland. (MACIEJ KULCZYNSKI/European Pressphoto Agency)

Why is it taking the Trump administration so long to fill key posts? If we are worried about the deep state’s influence, shouldn’t the president’s appointees be working around the clock to weed out and ride herd over biased Democrats and White House opponents who are trying to sabotage the GOP agenda? Thus far, I give the Trump cabinet an A+, but they only represent the tip of the iceberg. Without deputies and supporting departmental staff, a cabinet secretary’s office is insufficiently resourced to monitor, much less prevent the shenanigans we’ve seen from arising. More aggressive management is needed.

Perhaps the administration has crossed an inhibiting threshold in letting previous critics fill key posts. Witness the appointment of former ambassador to China and one-time Trump detractor Jon Huntsman, who has been selected for the vital post of ambassador to Russia. The “Huntsman Rule” needs to be applied more often. Remember, time is the administration’s enemy. The most productive period for any president is the first two years in office. The clock is ticking and we are nowhere near full speed. At this point in his first term, President Obama had nearly double the number of confirmed nominees as does President Trump. Reagan had almost seven times more. If this was a football game, we would be playing four men on the field versus our opponent’s eleven – and Trump is no Nick Saban. How do we expect to win?

Some reports say the pace of filling these key posts is about to pick up, but others say the exact opposite. Yesterday, news broke that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has gotten so frustrated with the way personnel hires are being handled that he threatened to quit. I bet he doesn’t issue second warnings. Perhaps the White House has heard his call. Earlier today, President Trump announced his intent to nominate key additions to the Department of Defense’s senior leadership. For now, the logjam at the Pentagon may have been cleared, but there is still a long way to go.

The White House is fighting an opposition party that opposes or holds up the confirmation of nearly every appointment made by this president – even those that are expected to pass with bipartisan support. But that’s only part of the problem. This administration is slow off the blocks.

President Trump deserves to fill his government with the people who most support his agenda. But the administration needs to hurry. It needs to apply the Huntsman Rule going forward and accelerate the appointment of more qualified officials. Otherwise, the Trump administration will constantly have tacks thrown in its path, be slow-walked by hostile bureaucrats and face continuous leaks from enemies within.