prestige

The State of the Department (Quack)

#AmericanPrestige | #WhatTheyVotedFor

With apologies: Altered detail from cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 17 April 2018.

“guess how many people are working on Iranian nuclear proliferation at the State Department? as of today....zero”

Anne Applebaum

We should be clear that by today, the columnist means Friday last, when she posted the tweet, which refers, in turn, to a report from Foreign Policy:

One of the State Department’s top experts on nuclear proliferation resigned this week after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, in what officials and analysts say is part of a worrying brain drain from public service generally over the past 18 months.

Richard Johnson, a career civil servant who served as acting assistant coordinator in State’s Office of Iran Nuclear Implementation, had been involved in talks with countries that sought to salvage the deal in recent weeks, including Britain, France, and Germany — an effort that ultimately failed.

Johnson’s departure leaves a growing void in the State Department’s stable of experts on Iran’s nuclear program and highlights a broader problem of high-level departures from government.

Officials say the trend is particularly evident at the State Department, where Trump sidelined career diplomats and morale plummeted under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The office Johnson led has gone from seven full-time staffers to none since Trump’s inauguration.

Today is Tuesday, and elsewhere in the commentariat Steve Benen notes, “The article didn’t explicitly say that Johnson resigned in protest, but there doesn’t appear to be much of a mystery about what happened here.”

(more…)

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The Mike Huckabee Experience (Sixteen Candles Pilot Episode)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

There will be plenty of fun stuff to cover, to be certain; Mike Huckabee has a history. For now it is enough to note that the former governor of Arkansas has entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Mike Huckabee had a pretty good record as governor. It’s too bad he can’t run on it. Better known in recent years for saying occasionally outrageous things as a commentator, Huckabee governed Arkansas for more than a decade as a pragmatist, devoting his attention to basics such as roads, schools and health care. On those issues, though, Huckabee generally took positions too liberal to suit a Republican presidential prospect in 2016—posing a conundrum for him as he plunges this week into the 2016 presidential race.

(Greenblatt)

Alan Greenblatt’s report for Politico notwithstanding―and there’s a hell of a flick of the wrist, eh?―msnbc blogger Steve Benen wonders if Mr. Huckabee stands a chance, and suggests, “by most measures, Huckabee remains a factional candidate who will struggle to compete for his party’s nomination”.

Mr. Benen’s analysis notwithstanding―what? couldn’t see that coming?―we might simply consider that the Republican (ahem!) clown car just got a headline absurdist.

Perhaps “notwithstanding” is the wrong word to abuse today. Benen reflects that Mr. Huckabee “enters the race as a credible, second-tier contender, leading much of the large GOP field”, and when we stop to consider that the professional huckster’s more clownish aspects are what lead him to this prestige, reflecting at once upon Greenblatt’s point about the former Arkansas governor’s gubernatorial record and the seemingly obvious juxtaposition of what it takes to achieve such popularity among conservatives. Mike Huckabee has another record, and that will be in its own way representative of the current conservative ethos. And, you know, zeitgeist. Just, well, right, you know, because the word goes in here somewhere. Actually, you know, Benen gives a pretty good thumbnail sketch, but still, this is what it feels like, and this is what it takes.

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Image note: Detail: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Greenblatt, Alan. “Mike Huckabee’s Love Affair With Big Government”. Politico. 4 May 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Does Mike Huckabee stand a chance?” msnbc. 5 May 2015.