The turbulence of the Trump administration has lost its ability to surprise.
When the early uncoverings of the Mueller investigation were made, it certainly made a ripple in both the political and media landscapes. The early charges against campaign officials such as George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates and Paul Manafort required excuses, press conferences and another influx of discrediting Russian Twitter bots.
All the while, the Trump administration consistently failed to understand how security clearance worked, filled federal offices with people they seemed to have found loitering on Pennsylvania Avenue and took credit for the growing Dow Jones average while shirking the blame for its volatility.
Here we are four months later, and a laundry list of new charges has been filed against the aforementioned Gates and Manafort. These charges include false tax returns, bank fraud and the kind of financial wrongdoing that Ryan Gosling would have warned me about in “The Big Short.” The allegations keep stacking, and the investigation has finally–and unsurprisingly–brought Russian individuals and corporations into the mix. Corruption is running amok, and it appears to be intermingled with treason.
So what is the big takeaway from all of this? That President Trump is on the verge of being ousted? That our democracy has been compromised?
Honestly, the big takeaway is that this campaign and administration is staffed by people who don’t know what they’re doing. These officials could most gently be referred to as morons, although there are definitely more colorful but less printable ways of describing them.
I wish that in analyzing the current situation in the executive branch, it would focus on the political implications of this criminality. But the fact of the matter is, declassified emails from Rick Gates revealed the he didn’t know how to convert a Microsoft Word document to a PDF, and on top of that emailed another staffer for help rather than Googling how to do it.
Some might say I’m fixating on an irrelevant issue, but I personally don’t consider it unrealistic to expect that a high-ranking member of a federal campaign staff knows where to find the “Save As” function. Given the astronomical expectations for undergrads when we get out of college, it’s pretty unfair that this gap in professional knowledge is allowed for a position as prestigious as a campaign manager.
I shouldn’t even need to reiterate this, but there should be a certain threshold of competency for federal officials. Every day we’re discovering the sheer depth of the stupidity associated with the White House. A district court nominee failed to answer basic questions of law in his Senate hearing. Trump’s lawyers once yelled about confidential information within earshot of a New York Times reporter. Chief of Staff John F. Kelly seems to have nonchalantly handed out security clearances, and is only now realizing that this is not an okay thing to do.
Most recently (and most disgustingly for that matter), at a meeting with Parkland teenagers, Trump was photographed with a cheat sheet of empathetic phrases, just in case he forgot what you’re supposed to say to the survivor of a tragedy. The list can go on forever, and this doesn’t even include the explicitly illegal actions of campaign staff.
Yes, some of the major crimes of this administration are the literal crimes against the state its members have committed. But the far greater infraction is that they were able to be complicit in this degree of illegality while also being so incredibly inept. People like Rick Gates ascended to the upper echelon of campaign work without a basic knowledge of Microsoft Office, and while being guilty of multiple avoidable felonies. Regardless of the fact that they’re being caught now, there was a point in time where we were letting them get away with it. If you ask me, that is even more egregious than the offenses themselves.
Jackson Rudoff is a first-year political science and English double major who is also minoring in French. You can usually find him in his room chanting the Canadian national anthem or talking about how much he loves his Nespresso machine.