Mundane Strangeness

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to members of the travel pool aboard Air Force One during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, while flying over South Carolina, 3 February 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

This is one of those thing that … well, okay, so it is easy enough to get lost in the crashing waves of information tumbling across the land, as it is, but this is also the time of President Donald Trump, so we find ourselves suddenly having need for seemingly oxymoronic terms, such as mundane strangeness:

Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as agriculture secretary, has not yet been confirmed, and nobody knows why.

It’s not that Democrats are obstructing his confirmation—since changes to the Senate’s filibuster rule, they can’t block a Trump nominee unless they recruit three Republican “no” votes. And in the case of Perdue—unlike, say, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—they aren’t trying to do this. Nor are they resorting to extraordinary measures like the all-night debate that stalled Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s confirmation, or the committee walkouts that dramatized ethical issues hanging over the heads of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin or Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

The reason the Senate hasn’t yet approved his nomination is that he hasn’t actually been officially nominated yet. Paperwork hasn’t yet traveled down from the executive branch to the Senate, so no hearings have been scheduled, even though Perdue does not appear to be a controversial nominee.


We should probably take the moment to clarify: If, for instance, we say that nobody knows what the problem is it isn’t so much a matter of political parsing as a matter of practicality. “They don’t seem to have a reason,” explained Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-NE), last week, “as to why his name hasn’t come up.” Perhaps someone in the Trump administration knows why; meanwhile, neither is the speculation absolutely raw.

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue speaks with the press at a gathering for his cousin and Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue, 4 November 2014, in Atlanta.  (Photo by Jason Getz/Getty Images)The Vox report continues:

Perdue’s nomination appears to be in limbo due to either the FBI background check or to financial conflicts of interest considered by the Office of Government Ethics. But it seems nobody is entirely sure whether there’s an actual problem, how serious the problem is, or whether the vetters are simply overwhelmed with other work ....

.... Trump put forward his initial round of nominees with less attention paid to vetting than has been traditional for recent presidents. Problems later arose that forced his nominees for secretary of the Army, secretary of the Navy, and secretary of labor to withdraw. In the case of labor nominee Andy Puzder, the issue was a mix of intense liberal opposition plus a considerable amount of scandal. The Army and Navy secretary nominees withdrew after deciding that there was no satisfactory way to resolve their financial conflicts of interest that they were personally comfortable with.

And, yes, it is easy enough to miss in all the noise and chaos of this White House yet another reminder of personnel troubles; and, yes, it probably would be extraneous to pause here in order to review Mr. Trump’s implications in the regular question of business experience as an indicator of political acumen.

If anyone knows what challenge is delaying Mr. Perdue’s nomination, it seems true enough that nobody is stepping up to explain.


Image notes: President Donald Trump. (Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters) Top ― U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to members of the travel pool aboard Air Force One during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, while flying over South Carolina, 3 February 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) Right ― Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. (Photo by Jason Getz/Getty Images)

Yglesias, Matthew. “The weird mystery of the Trump administration’s agriculture secretary vacancy”. Vox. 8 March 2017.

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