The old acting Secrretary of Defense is about to be replaced by a new acting Secretary of Defense, because the old one couldn’t get a security clearance. Shanahan, a former executive at Boeing — home of the still getting worse 737 Max fiasco — has been serving as acting Secretary of Defense since January 1. Even better, he’d been the confirmed Deputy Secretary of Defense since July 2017. Without a bleeping security clearance.
Let that sink in.
Shanahan’s security clearance has been held up because of domestic violence allegations, although the story there is murky. The worst thing that seems to have happened is that Shanahan’s son, at the age of 17, beat his mother just about to a bloody pulp with a baseball bat. “The attack had left Patrick Shanahan’s ex-wife unconscious in a pool of blood, her skull fractured and with internal injuries that required surgery, according to court and police records,” the Washington Post said.
Two weeks later, Shanahan sent his ex-wife’s brother a memo arguing that his son had acted in self-defense.
“Use of a baseball bat in self-defense will likely be viewed as an imbalance of force,” Shanahan wrote. “However, Will’s mother harassed him for nearly three hours before the incident.”
And there also was an incident in which Mrs. Shanahan punched Mr. Shanahan in the face. “Court records also contain an earlier episode in which both Shanahan and his wife alleged they were assaulted by one another, and she was arrested.” The former Mrs. Shanahana has changed her name and is not talking to anybody about anything, thank you. I will make no assumptions about who did what to whom, but IMO somebody needs to keep an eye on the son.
Mr. Trump named Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army and a former Raytheon executive, to take over as acting secretary of defense. He did not say whether Mr. Esper would be nominated for the permanent position….
…Mr. Esper, a top lobbyist for Raytheon and an executive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has a long history of ties to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, where he worked as an adviser to Bill Frist, the former Senate majority leader, and various committees with jurisdiction over foreign policy and national security.
I’m sure you remember Bill “I like to experiment on cats” Frist. But let us also play a very tiny violin for Donald Trump —
Mr. Trump’s decision not to move ahead with Mr. Shanahan is the latest evidence of the difficulty that the president has had in permanently filling the top jobs in his administration.
The president also has an acting chief of staff at the White House and an acting secretary of homeland security.
Please. Charles Pierce reminds us that Trump likes “acting.”
And, once again, an acting Cabinet secretary will be replaced by another acting Cabinet secretary, and I wouldn’t stand on one leg waiting for the administration* to put Esper’s confirmation before the Senate, either. The president* already has said that he “likes acting.” From The New York Times:
“I like acting. It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that?” Mr. Trump told reporters in January before departing to Camp David. “I like acting. So we have a few that are acting. We have a great, great cabinet.”
This is the most obvious game plan imaginable for an authoritarian simpleton. Hire temp workers and they’ll be so concerned about keeping you happy—and, thereby, keeping their jobs—that they won’t tell you anything you don’t want to hear. This president* doesn’t like to hear things he doesn’t want to hear, as some of his now-former pollsters recently discovered.
Indeed, the Times tells us why Trump liked Shanahan so much —
He was widely viewed as acquiescing to the White House and other government officials, including John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state. As he defended the president’s proposal to create a Space Force in the military, Mr. Shanahan famously said that the Pentagon would not be viewed as the “Department of No.”
A natural-born toad. But Charles Piece also has another point —
The problem with having temp workers heading the departments of the national executive is that it embeds a strong strain of chaos and indecision in the structure of the government. That this might be what the president* wants to do is a madman proposition on the best of days, but with things heating up in the Persian Gulf, my guess is that we’d do a lot better with a Secretary of Defense whose business cards are written in disappearing ink.
Not to mention one with a real security clearance.