Trump Strategy and the Deep State Bureaucracy

Seton Motley | Red State |

Two statements that always bemused me, both having to do with rapidly successful military campaigns: “The 100-Hour War” (Desert Storm) and “20 Days to Baghdad” (Iraqi Freedom). My sense of bemusement comes from realizing that most folks who use them have no idea of the months required to build up troops, equipment, and supplies necessary before the actual commencement of offensive military operations. In military parlance, we called that, “setting the conditions” or “setting the stance.” Both of these are reminiscent of the old military adage, “Colonels and below study tactics. Generals study logistics.”

In many ways, the Democrats are very good at taking that strategic view. My good friend and colleague Sarah Lee wrote an excellent piece on one example of a strategic effort quarterbacked by none other than former Obama Attorney General, Eric Holder. Holder used his own campaign of lawfare to sue states with gerrymandered Republican-friendly district maps, while, of course, leaving Democrat-friendly states alone. He is the largely ignored force behind turning Virginia Blue.

President Trump understands such strategy. While waving his red cape of tax returns and Twitter outrages in front of the Democrat and never-Trumper bulls, he has also been quietly getting things done to set the conditions for further conservative success, such as tax and regulatory reform. However, he also recognizes such achievements are ephemeral, given that a new administration and Congress can undo them.

To this end, he has, with the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, been doing an excellent job in filling the Federal Judiciary. He has filled over 150 Federal Judge openings, including several Circuit Court of Appeal positions and two Associate Justice positions on the U.S. Supreme Court. Continuing this effort into his second term can do quite a bit to inoculate us from leftist efforts to undo many of his reforms. It can, in some cases, also put the brakes on efforts such as Holder’s, at least at the Federal level.

Along with his effort to fill the federal judiciary, something else President Trump needs to do is get the federal bureaucracy under control. Along with eliminating as many federal bureaucracy positions as possible, he also needs to get behind Senate efforts to eliminate the practice known as “burrowing.” Burrowing is where political appointees of one administration, toward the end of their term, get their status changed from political appointee to full-time career civil servant. The objective of this is to put civil servants who are almost unfireable, into positions where they can impede a subsequent administration.

The Obama administration did this to great effect. Much of the resistance to President Trump’s efforts to fulfill his campaign promises is due to Obama holdovers who, at best, drag their feet and, at worst, openly defy his orders. One such example was Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Yates instructed her subordinates not to make legal arguments defending Executive Order 13769, which temporarily banned the admission of refugees and temporarily barred travel from certain countries known to harbor terrorists. Yates was subsequently fired by President Trump. Although he ultimately won the court battles that resulted, her open and notorious insubordination caused a huge delay in implementing the president’s directive.

Both the House and the Senate have passed different versions of a bill to prevent this practice. However, neither bill goes far enough. President Trump should get behind such a bill, but the prohibition on a presidential political appointee taking a career Civil Service position should extend for as long as the president who appointed him is in office and for 180 days thereafter.

It is unlikely that a Democratic House will at first support President Trump in this effort. However, he does have some leverage. He can use President Obama’s technique against them. Once re-elected in 2020, he should begin a slow, deliberate process to convert as many of his appointees into career positions as practical. He should continue to do so until both the House and the Senate come up with a bill that meets his standards. President Trump knows how to play hardball. Here is one area he should do so.

Aside from totally eliminating it as an entity, there is almost no way to stop many members of the Civil Service from becoming effective agents for the leftist agenda. However, if President Trump can influence the passage of such legislation, it could at least put a damper on leftist bureaucratic rot.

Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

Follow him on Twitter: @MikeFor10394583

You can find his other RedState work here.


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