Presidential transitions: Filling a dysfunctional system with experts in dysfunctionality

lawrence sellin

By Lawrence Sellin, PhD

In Washington D.C., it is not about getting something done or doing the right thing, it is all about prevailing in bouts of political infighting.

There is a huge battle underway concerning who among the inside-the-Beltway venomous habitants will fill the 4,000 or so political appointee positions now up for grabs.

The swamp is swamped with resumes from swamp creatures, those permanent fixtures on the Washington D.C. scene, who bounce between high-level government positions and the lobbying firms, think tanks and other organizations who, directly or indirectly, feed from the public trough.

Not surprisingly, the inside-the-Beltway crowd are very upset that President Donald Trump signed a lifetime foreign-lobbying ban for members of his administration, as well as a five-year ban for all other lobbying.

According to a New York Times article:

“Rodney L. Whitlock, a health policy consultant and former longtime aide to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said the five-year lobbying ban was a deterrent from pursuing a position with the administration.

“If I stayed in for three years, and then I stepped out, when could I lobby?” Mr. Whitlock said. “I would be 60. I’ve got to put kids through college, and I’m not the only one.”

Finding employment, feeding a family, paying for college? No, that doesn’t sound like what virtually every non-lobbying American household must do.

You see, for the thousands of Beltway swamp rats, who are now desperately scrambling for jobs in the Trump Administration, many of whom, says transition executive team member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), opposed Trump’s candidacy, “public service” is just a stepping stone to the big bucks.

I’m told by inside-the-Beltway veterans that you must hire inside-the-Beltway veterans because they know how Washington D.C. “works.”

In other words, after decades of federal government dysfunctionality, we should hire those who do that the best.

The only real choice among the candidates is their particular political bent, whether you want Republican establishment, conservative or liberal dysfunctionality.

I am also told by inside-the-Beltway veterans that you must hire inside-the-Beltway veterans because you can’t find high quality applicants with irreplaceable experience outside the Beltway.

Seriously? We are talking bureaucrats here, not rocket scientists or brain surgeons.

There are over 100,000 applicants in the website set up after the election to solicit those interested in working in the Trump Administration.

When I mention that, the inside-the-Beltway veterans laugh, noting that it was an obligatory public relations exercise and all the real recruiting takes place in the halls of Congress and from the Republican National Committee network – friends hiring friends to reliably maintain the Deep State.

William F. Buckley, Jr. once said: “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

Or, for that matter, all the usual inside-the-Beltway suspects being rounded up for positions in the Trump Administration by those who wish to dismiss the outcome of the 2016 election and disregard the wish of the American people for genuine reform.

You can’t drain the swamp by hiring people who live off of it.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. Colonel Sellin is the author of “Restoring the Republic: Arguments for a Second American Revolution “. He receives email at