Monday, July 24, 2017

The Daily 202: Trump marginalizes experts, debases expertise

Donald Trump, the first president in American history to take office with no prior governing or military experience, has appointed someone with no professional communications experience to be White House communications director.

But that should not surprise anyone. “Elevating nonexperts who lack relevant experience into important jobs across the federal government” has been a “hallmark of the president’s first six months in power.”

Robert Reich summarizes some examples from James Hohmann’s Washington Post article:

Throughout modern history, tyrants have sought to turn the public against expertise and science. Trump is ramping up his attacks on:

1. The intelligence agencies. Making his debut on the Sunday shows, former hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci said yesterday Trump still doesn’t accept the consensus of professionals in the intelligence community that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election.

2. Housing experts. Last month he appointed party planner Lynne Patton, who helped plan Eric Trump’s wedding to head HUD’s office for the region that covers New York and New Jersey.

3. Agriculture scientists. Last week Trump nominated someone who is not a scientist to be the Agriculture Department’s chief scientist. Sam Clovis has described himself as “extremely skeptical” about the expert consensus on climate change.

4. Climate scientists. Trump will nominate a prominent coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, to serve as the No. 2 at the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has already removed several agency websites that contained detailed climate data and scientific information, including one that for nearly two decades has explained climate change.

5. Economists. Knowing the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's estimate of the revised Senate Republican health-care bill would be awful, Trump’s White House placed an op-ed preemptively dismissing the economist's forecast as “fake news.”

And on it goes. Trump wants no experts and no facts so the American public will believe his lies. It’s an attack on democracy.

By James Hohmann