I’m glad you like adverbs-I adore them. They are the only qualifications I really much respect.
— Henry James, Letter to Miss Edwards
Now that some of Donald Trump’s choices for important positions in his administration have been made, it is time to examine the reasons for some of those appointments. An early appointment was that of General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor. He was selected for two reasons: his tenuous relationship with the truth, as shown by his promulgation of fake news over the years, a trait admired by Mr. Trump; and his former status as a general.
It might seem odd that he was considered qualified because he was a general, in view of Mr. Trump’s earlier descriptions of that genre. When discussing ISIS, a year ago, Mr. Trump said: “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” Later in the same interview he said that under the leadership of the current administration “the generals have been reduced to rubble. They have been reduced to a point where it’s embarrassing for our country.” That description seemed singularly appropriate for General Flynn. In General Flynn’s twitter account, the General promoted the fake news that Hillary Clinton was engaged in things like money laundering and sex crimes involving children. He said a program sponsored by the UN was designed to create a one world church that would prohibit Christianity. General Flynn’s fondness for fake news meshes nicely with Mr. Trump’s tenuous relationship with facts. Of course, Mr. Trump might deny that he ever said about generals what is quoted above and, instead, attribute the quote to inaccurate reporting. He recently explained on Fox News: “I think generals are terrific, you know. They go through schools and they sort of end up at the top of the pyramid, and it’s like a test. They passed the test of life.”
Another appointment that has been announced is that of Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, to be Secretary of Labor. Mr. Puzder opposes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. In 2012 he was paid $4,485,055 including base salary and bonus. An employee earning $15 an hour would have to work approximately 299,300 hours each year to match Mr. Puzder’s income, an opportunity that is denied the typical hourly worker. (If the minimum wage were $8.00 an hour, the number of hours an employee would have to work to earn as much as Mr. Puzder did in 2012, would be almost 600,000 hours and that is an almost impossible task and would completely deprive a worker of any home life at all.)
After the election, but before his selection was announced, Mr. Puzder had a Fox Business Interview in which he was asked whether he would want to work in Trump’s cabinet. He responded saying: “I think it would be . . . the most fun you could have with your clothes on.” And that brings us the reason he may be a cabinet choice.
The advertisements that his company runs for hamburgers feature beautiful women wearing bikinis or short shorts. They appear to be deciding whether or not to eat the hamburger they are holding or caressing. The thought process causes them to interact with the hamburger they are holding, in such a way that the inattentive viewer may forget that what he or she is watching is an ad for a hamburger. When asked about these ads Mr. Puzder said he didn’t care if viewers find the ads offensive. “If you don’t complain, I go to the head of marketing and say, “What’s wrong with our ads. What you look at is, you look at sales. And, our sales go up.. . .I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American. [The brand] did take on my personality.” And herewith a possible reason for this particular appointment.
As Mr. Trump has made plain, his wife is not going to be moving to the White House at least until summer, if then. During the time she is not there, the White House will be a lonely place and Mr. Puzder, through his connections with the assorted models, can help relieve its loneliness. He can suggest to Mr. Trump that the women be invited to visit the White House for a hamburger dinner. Any model (or anyone else for that matter) would not consider declining. When recalling the famous taped conversation released in early October, in which Mr. Trump bragged about the perks he enjoyed as a star, when around beautiful women, it is not hard to imagine that those perks will be multiplied ten-fold when the attention he is paying these beautiful models is being paid by him, not as a star, but as the president of the United States. And their presence will certainly make up for any feelings of incompetence Mr. Trump might otherwise have, for occupying an office for which he is so clearly unqualified and unprepared.