Home/Daniel Larison/Trump’s Self-Sabotage and the Wrecking of the State Department

Trump’s Self-Sabotage and the Wrecking of the State Department

The president’s disdain for diplomacy is matched only by his inflated self-regard:

“Let me tell you, the one that matters is me,” Trump said in an interview that aired on Fox News on Thursday night. “I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be [bold mine-DL]. You’ve seen that, you’ve seen it strongly.”

The president was responding to a question from Fox’s Laura Ingraham, who asked him, “Are you worried that the State Department doesn’t have enough Donald Trump nominees in there to push your vision through?”

Trump’s insistence that he doesn’t need to staff his own administration may be one of the most impressive examples of the president’s pattern of self-sabotage. The administration would have had difficulty filling many positions at State and elsewhere in any case, but the fact that the president simply can’t be bothered to fill them and doesn’t think it matters shows both his ineptitude at governing and his failure to understand the basic demands of his position. The absurdity of declaring “the one that matters is me” should be obvious, but for some reason no one in Trump’s circle has managed to explain to him that he can’t implement his policies effectively if he doesn’t have fully-staffed departments to do just that. The more that the president insists that filling vacant positions is irrelevant, the less that he will matter on a wide range of issues. The inability and unwillingness to staff his own administration will hamper everything Trump wants to do, and that will make him even less successful abroad than he already would have been. In the meantime, the State Department will continue to suffer from the malign neglect that this administration is visiting upon it. Trump may be sabotaging himself in the process of wrecking the department, but it will pay a price over the longer term that will take many years to correct.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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