It is no secret that President Trump has been hard up finding qualified people to serve in his administration. This was a problem from day one of his administration, but it has only worsened as Trump’s issues with executive functioning have become manifestly clear. It took Trump four months to decide that he should nominate his underwhelming acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, to be the permanent replacement for James Mattis. Do you think it took that long because Trump had high confidence in Shanahan?
With a few exceptions, Trump appointees have found it harder and harder to get decent private-sector positions after leaving the administration. Naturally, this has further deterred qualified job applicants. Which brings us to this amazing story by the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni about the “list of 10 conditions that Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, has given to the White House if he is to become the administration’s ‘immigration czar,’ a job President Trump has been looking to create to coordinate immigration policy across government agencies.”
Among Kobach’s demands: “Access to a government jet 24 hours a day. An office in the West Wing, plus guaranteed weekends off for family time. And an assurance of being made secretary of homeland security by November.”
One must step back here for a second and marvel at Kobach’s chutzpah. Sure, he went to Harvard, but Jared Kushner did too, so that degree does not quite carry the same gravitas that it used to. His chief attraction to the current administration is that he shares its restrictionist immigration preferences and is willing to serve. Provided he has 24/7 access to a jet.
On the other hand, Kobach brings a lot of baggage with him. He managed to botch the one assignment Trump gave him to date, a commission on electoral fraud that disintegrated under his rank incompetence. He failed so badly in defending his restrictive voter ID law that a Kansas judge ordered him to take additional continuing education classes in law. He lost the Kansas governor’s race in 2018. GOP senators, including ones from his home state, have told Trump that Kobach cannot be confirmed as the next secretary of homeland security. Oh, and he has so freaked out the GOP with the possibility that he might run for Sen. Pat Roberts’s seat that national Republicans are already plotting how to stop that from happening.
This is the person who feels he can make demands of the White House.
I can’t blame Kobach, not really. He probably believes that Trump will be impressed by such gargantuan demands and is so hard up for loyalists that he will inexorably be hired. But it did get me to thinking: What would it take for a normal competent person to agree to serve in the Trump White House? I mean, my educational credentials are at least as good as Kobach. I have some government service under my belt. Furthermore, I have not run a federal commission into the ground or been laughed out of a Kansas court for incompetence. Trump would be lucky to have me!
If I were to serve in the Trump administration, however, there would be no going back. Like John Bolton, this would be my last job, and I would have to live off the proceeds of #MAGA conference circuit for the rest of my days. So if Kobach is going to demand that “POTUS sits down individually with Czar and the secretaries of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, Ag, Interior, and Commerce, and tells each of the Secretaries to follow the directives of the Czar without delay, subject to appeal to the President in cases of disagreement,” then I have a few demands of my own before signing up:
- An office in the East Wing. (Melania’s shop seems less noisy.)
- Walk-in privileges to Ivanka Trump’s office with a can of spray paint.
- The rank of Lord Marshall. If that rank does not exist, it needs to be created by presidential decree. I’m the only person allowed to occupy this position.
- A staff of 10 people, including Tyrus from “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.”
- At least three positive POTUS tweets a week.
- Permitted to commute to work by tank.
- Can force Peter Navarro to read introductory international economics textbooks out loud at daily staff meetings.
- Mick Mulvaney is barred from replacing me with himself.
- I get to fly to every G-20 summit by either stealth jet or Singapore Airlines first-class suite.
- I am allowed to bomb the country of my choice. Or a reliably blue state. Same difference if you serve this administration.
To be honest, even if the Trump White House met these criteria I would not believe them and decline the position. It really stinks when you are the president of the United States and to hire ideologically simpatico staff he has to cast his net wide enough to include Kris Kobach.