With Kirstjen Nielsen's ouster there is no Secretary of Homeland Security, no Secretary of Defense, no Secretary of the Air Force, no U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, no Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, no Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, no Secretary of the Interior, no Administrator of the Small Business Administration, no Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director, no Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator, and no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner.
It was July 21, 2016. Candidate Donald Trump stunned America by announcing at the Republican National Convention, "I alone can fix it."
The response way back then was fear and trepidation, with charges of authoritarianism – and a good dose of mockery, as CNBC offered hours later:
“I alone can fix it.” Donald Trump's message tonight was all about how he alone can fix the country. https://t.co/kElUYF5TuK— CNBC (@CNBC)1469163022.0
Candidate Hillary Clinton responded as many others did too:
Trump's dangerously wrong when he says “I alone can fix it.” Americans haver never put our faith in one man—we put our faith in each other.— Hillary Clinton (@Hillary Clinton)1469294778.0
And again on the campaign trail:
In America, we don't say, “I alone can fix it.” We say, "We'll fix it together.” https://t.co/rKkXeL6c5X— Hillary Clinton (@Hillary Clinton)1473187642.0
We were warned. We knew what was about to happen.
And here we are, approaching the three-year anniversary of Trump's promise, that he would work alone, that he "alone" would "fix" America.
Trump called it "leaving." Her "resignation" was to be effective immediately. (She later tweeted she will leave April 10.)
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service....— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1554674523.0
It's clear Trump fired Secretary Nielsen. CBS News reports this is part of Stephen Miller's plan to insert extremists into the administration.
But what is also clear is that President Trump increasingly is operating in that "I alone" mentality.
And America is far more weak as a result.
It's not a stretch or hyperbolic to say that at this moment in time, heaven forbid we are attacked, there will be chaos – and many lives lost, as a result of how withered the Trump administration is.
With Kirstjen Nielsen's ouster there is no Secretary of Homeland Security, no Secretary of Defense, no Secretary of the Air Force, no U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, no Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, no White House Chief of Staff, no White House Communications Director, no Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, no Secretary of the Interior, no Administrator of the Small Business Administration, no Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director, no Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator, and no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner.
Those are the top positions that are empty.
("Acting" officials, which are in place for many of these leadership positions, are not the same or the same caliber as Senate-confirmed officials, which most of these positions are supposed to be.)
The Trump administration's White House web site on his Cabinet (which for some reason omits the Acting Secretary of Defense), says "the Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office."
Who's advising the president when all these positions are effectively empty, or filled with, basically, a substitute, a stand-in, someone not experienced enough for the job?
Not convinced America is in crisis yet?
Think about this.
At the Dept. of Defense, 25% of key positions as of April 1 remain unfilled, according to The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service. At the State Dept., that number jumps to 39%. Homeland Security: 44%.
Granted, some percentage of those are nominated and awaiting Senate confirmation, but if Democrats are holding them up, there's reason to believe it's the quality of the nominee that's the problem, given Trump's record.
As The Post notes, there are currently 140 key positions requiring Senate confirmation for which the Trump administration has never nominated anyone.
Here's a small sampling:
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE:
Chief Management Officer, Deputy chief management officer, Undersecretary for personnel and readiness, Principal deputy undersecretary for personnel and readiness, Assistant secretary for international security affairs, Assistant secretary for logistics and materiel readiness.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE:
Undersecretary for public diplomacy, Coordinator for threat reduction programs, U.S. Ambassadors 19 countries, including to three Central American countries: Honduras, Belize, and Panama. Other critical countries without a U.S. Ambassador: Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, and Qatar.
Deputy secretary, Assistant secretary for policy.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE:
Undersecretary for industry and security
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION:
General counsel, Undersecretary, Inspector General
America is in crisis. There are fewer and fewer experts advising the president, and none who are able to tell him "no."