The Sunday Edition

Michael's essay: Perhaps we'll be saved by the sheer incompetence of President Trump's staff

"Republicans have a cherished tradition of defending the rights of the stupid and the mediocre to representation in the halls of government."
In the little more than a year in the Trump presidency, more than 40 men and women have been fired or have resigned. (Kevn Lamarque/Reuters)
Listen4:22

In 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon nominated a man named G. Harrold Carswell to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination was met with dismay, to put it mildly.

The media, lawyers' associations, and other judges, all agreed that Judge Carswell was unfit to serve on the nation's highest court.

After all, almost 60 percent of his rulings on the district court bench had been reversed on appeal. The judge was judged to be mediocre at best.

Which led to one of the great political assertions of modern times. Republican Senator Roman Hruska defended Judge Carswell by declaiming: "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they?" 

Judge Carswell's nomination died in the Senate on a 51-45 vote and Senator Hruska disappeared into darkest Nebraska.

Despite his awkwardness, the Senator raised an interesting point.

Why shouldn't stupid people, mediocre people in his phrase, be represented in the government of their country?

If African-Americans, the poor, women, immigrants, gays and Hispanics should be included in the national conversation, why not dummies?

They pay taxes; they vote; sometimes they have children and families they care about. They can be patriots and fight for their flag and country just like other folks.

Republicans have a cherished tradition of defending the rights of the stupid and the mediocre to representation in the halls of government.

In 2012, for example, John McCain, the Republican nominee, chose Sarah Palin, then Governor of Alaska, as his running mate.

Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. "Republicans have a cherished tradition of defending the rights of the stupid and the mediocre to representation in the halls of government," Michael writes. (Brandi Simons/Associated Press)
The leading qualification of "The Hottest Governor of the Coldest State," as she liked to be called, was her ability to field dress a moose — get it ready for the stew pot.

Indiana, the Hoosier State, has produced two of the most mediocre Republican vice-presidents in modern times: Mike Pence and Dan Quayle.

Republicans seem to love mediocre vice-presidents. Remember Spiro T. Agnew? He was not only dumb as dirt, but a crook as well.

(The Nixon/Agnew ticket may be the only instance in presidential history where the two top guys could have ended their political careers as cell mates.)

The current administration in Washington has reached out tirelessly to the mediocre and the just plain dumb.

Donald J. Trump, the self-described Very Stable Genius, was their candidate and now he is their president.

The chattering classes generally agree that the Trump administration is home to some of the most mediocre people imaginable.

They are almost unanimous in suggesting that his Cabinet appointees either know nothing or very little about their departments or have been assigned to come up with measures to destroy them.

New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman argues in a constant refrain that, "Just one year of Trump has moved us a long way toward a government of the worst and the dumbest. And while unqualified people are marching in, qualified people are fleeing."

In the little more than a year in the Trump presidency, more than 40 men and women have been fired or have resigned.

In the resulting chaos, even the White House lawyers are hiring lawyers — not a healthy sign.

Maybe there are some shards of hope to be found in the debris of the Very Stable Genius's administration.

Perhaps the sheer weight of incompetence will get the country through the next three years.

After all, it wasn't the mediocre and the dumbest who dragged the world through the disaster of Vietnam. It was the best and the brightest.

Click 'listen' above to hear the essay.