President Donald J. Trump gets all the praise and all the criticism as the U.S. government shuffles on in disarray.
But there are other elements in the mix.
The first problem is that as of mid-2019, Trump is lacking real help because his Cabinet has been described as empty.
Here are the Trump administrative vacancies with acting leaders.
Acting Defense secretary, acting DHS secretary, acting UN ambassador, acting SBA administrator, acting chief of staff, acting FEMA director, acting ICE director, acting USCIS director and acting FAA administrator.
NBC News pointed out that the U.S. military has operated without a Defense secretary since December and will continue to do so as acting Defense Secretary Michael Shanahan withdraws from consideration.
Mark Esper, Army secretary, may be named to the post.
Various writers have emphasized that the Trump administration is continuing to have difficulties with hiring and retaining qualified people.
They point out that the president has a Cabinet by default. Many of the members are simply the last man or woman standing, after others pulled out of running, declined the president’s job offers or couldn’t get through their nomination hearings.
Commentators say the vetting operation is far from thorough and a thin Republican Senate majority has little room for error.
A Washington Post headline said, “The Trump administration is now scraping the very bottom of the bottom of the barrel.”
When the president canceled a planned attack on Iran that could have killed 150 Iranians, he might have been acting on advice from Fox newsman Tucker Carlson.
As a sidebar, it was reported that a Fox News host Sean Hannity had exchanged many text messages with Paul Manafort, a one-time campaign chairman for Trump, now serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison term for fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy.
Two advisers to the president are steadfast hawks:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, one of the longest surviving members of the Cabinet, reportedly pressed Trump to launch a strike against Iran after that country’s military personnel shot down a U.S. Global Hawk drone over the Strait of Hormuz.
John Bolton, long labeled a hawk in Washington D.C., is Trump’s national security adviser and was the subject of a lengthy article in the New Yorker’s May 6 edition. Dexter Filkins wrote that Bolton is “a ferocious critic of Iran.”
Any president needs all the help he or she can get, but Trump’s low-level Cabinet members and the two zealous hawks are giving him seriously competitive views about how to react to the world’s highly volatile and dangerous activities.