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Assault on America, Day 294: State Department deep staters don’t like Trump. Need we worry?

Mike Pompeo
Ask a hundred federal government employees why they chose a career in civil service and you’ll probably receive many different answers, ranging from “I felt a calling to serve the country” to “it’s a great, fulfilling job with terrific benefits and outstanding job security,” to “I happen to live in an area where everyone works for the government. Where else would I find a place that pays so well?”

One response that likely wouldn’t show up as frequently is, “I’m guaranteed job satisfaction and the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want -- and it doesn’t matter if I agree with my boss on the details of my practice, I can’t be bothered to listen to what they tell me.”

No doubt most of those receiving a regular paycheck from the American taxpayers performs his or her duties with the utmost pride in their work and relishes the opportunity to execute the laws and administer the policies set by congresses and presidents present and long past. But there’s also a point where the bureaucracy becomes so large and unruly that it’s actually defeating its own purpose. When the folks carrying out the procedures laid down from the top begin questioning -- and basically undermining -- the elected leadership, the leviathan becomes unmanageable.

Such appears to be the case at the State Department. According to recent reports career foreign service “professionals” are incredibly dissatisfied with what they’re being asked to do these days, and it’s a result of directives from the current occupant of the White House. President Donald Trump came to Washington promising to drain the swamp, and it appears he’s meeting fierce resistance from the snobby intelligentsia elites headquartered at Foggy Bottom.

In a story titled, “Diplomats describe all-time low in morale at State under Trump,” Reid Wilson reported at The Hill, “Inside the State Department, tensions between political appointees and career appointees are rising, sources said. [Former ambassador to Ukraine Marie] Yovanovitch’s firing has underscored the tensions — and the lack of trust — between career officials and political appointees. Several sources said they felt they were being scrutinized by political appointees who could report disloyalty to senior officials.

“’Every day, you’re suspect. You never know when you’re going to be put to the guillotine,’ one senior foreign service officer said.

“The staff reductions that began under Tillerson have left gaping holes that remain today, more than a year after he left the administration. Eight of the 28 assistant secretary positions are being run by acting secretaries who have not been confirmed by the Senate. Two more are vacant. One of six undersecretaries is acting, and two more posts — overseeing public diplomacy and civilian security, democracy and human rights — are vacant.”

There are a ton of things at play here. First off, if there are vacancies at the State Department -- or any other federal agency -- they’re probably due to the senate’s snail-like pace in confirming Trump’s nominees (Democrats want to wait it out hoping their own will fill the patronage positions with friendly liberal ideologues who will toil to sustain the swamp rather than drain it). Or two, Trump and/or his appointed conservative cabinet heads deemed that the positions in question were wholly unnecessary and decided not to fill them upon assuming office.

How else can you reduce the size of government these days?

Not having seen recent statistics on the number of openings at all levels of the government, it’s not clear where the problem lies. But upon entering the White House, Trump decreed that the federal bureaucracy was overloaded with excess bloat and he wasn’t about to perpetuate the malaise. Instead of choosing campaign supporters and other party backers to automatically receive well-paid jobs where their only requirement was to show up everyday to fill a seat and sign papers, the positions were essentially ignored.

From appearances, the dilemma seems particularly acute in the State Department where longtime employees apparently view themselves as knowing best how to represent the country abroad. Wilson’s article offered quotes from several anonymous State insiders talking about representing America’s “values” overseas and how it’s difficult to get foreign governments to buy-in to U.S. requests when our own administration wasn’t adhering to those higher principles.

Granted we don’t really know the situation on the ground, but who do these people think they are? When you apply for and complete the process for a job at the State Department, aren’t you basically agreeing to abide by the policies set by current and succeeding administrations? If a man or woman’s been there for decades, did they seriously believe Trump’s -- or Obama’s, George W. Bush’s or Bill Clinton’s -- beliefs would parallel those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan?

In every change of administration there are bound to be switches in the way things are done, and if you’re not prepared to acclimate yourself to the new regime, there’s always the option of resigning your position (like everyone else) and trying to find greener employment pastures elsewhere. For those griping about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo being too close to Trump and defending the president against his critics, what should he do instead?

Should Pompeo first poll his career staff and decide whether to go on TV and say good things about the President of the United States based on their input? Or should he follow-up a phone conversation with Trump by doing his best to discuss the president’s policies with whomever is questioning them?

The arrogance of these “servants” is astonishing. Military personnel join the service knowing their lives could be at stake depending on who wins and loses elections. Still they’re not released from their pledges to fight based on whether they agree or disagree with the commander-in-chief’s political stances. The vast majority of them salute and say “Yes sir!” when ordered to deploy or perform other tasks. Why is the anticipation so different for foreign service officers?

As would be expected, Reid’s article cites the Ukraine controversy and Trump’s pull-out of Syria as examples of where it’s now harder for State schleps to “do their jobs” because foreign foes will be emboldened and allies more hesitant to join with us because we “abandoned” the Kurds. Even supposing this were true -- which it’s not -- should the president base his impressions and agenda on what other governments want us to do? It doesn’t take a genius to envision a day when American troops are installed in every “friendly” nation on earth because the leaders there claim they’re on the verge of internal collapse due to malignant force X.

The United States would cease to exist if this were the scenario because one, we’d run out of money to pay for all the “protection” and two, our own sovereignty would be severely neglected in the name of keeping everyone else happy. Does the ancient stalemate between the Turks and Kurds endanger us more than what we’re witnessing at our own southern border? Does the Turkish army’s seizure of hundreds or thousands of square miles of Syrian territory have more bearing on our domestic safety than an “invasion” of a hundred thousand illegal aliens a month?

The media (again) simply isn’t reporting the truth. But why is it we’re forced to endure more reports of upset federal employees when the other side of the story isn’t even being presented? At the risk of being insensitive, who cares what the unhappy workers think? If they’re annoyed with the direction of the Trump administration, Trump and Pompeo would be more than willing to find new people who will do their duties as required.

Beyond this, what about term limits for federal employees? There are solid arguments in favor of judges receiving lifetime privileges, but there are no such potential political pitfalls for revolving-door bureaucrats. Why should these people feel insulated from scrutiny and performance assessments by an administration that wishes to take a different tack? If employees were limited to ten, fifteen or twenty-year terms they’d have to reapply for an extended stay based on ability and accomplishments.

You mean like everybody else? Oh, what a revolutionary idea! You can just sense the consternation and hear the bellyaching from the entrenched legions of status quo warriors now. Taking their “tenure” away would sure make them think twice about bashing their own boss and his decision to move away from the way it’s always been done. Who would come back to “save” them, Hillary Clinton?

Not a chance. Clinton’s too busy picking on the lone perceived “moderate” in the 2020 Democrat presidential field. It’s gotten so bad even Trump came to the defense of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in reference to Crooked Hillary’s insane rantings. Morgan Chalfant reported at The Hill, “President Trump on Monday assailed former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for suggesting Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is favored by Russia in the 2020 White House race.

“’Hillary Clinton, I don’t know if you’ve heard of her, she’s the one accusing everybody of being a Russian agent. Anybody that is opposed to her is a Russian agent,’ Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting. ‘That’s a scam that was pretty much put down.’

“’I don’t know Tulsi, but she’s not a Russian agent,’ Trump continued. ‘I don’t know Jill Stein. I know she likes environment. I don’t think she likes Russians. If she does like them, I know she’s not an asset.’ ‘These people are sick. There’s something wrong with them,’ [Trump said].”

Maybe Hillary got a report about Gabbard’s alleged Russian complicity from her friends at the State Department. It’s not hard to see there’s something wrong when everyone was so happy and content under Clinton’s unhinged mentoring but they take issue with a Trump administration that wants to change course from policies that weren’t working and only got America mired deeper into bogs around the world.

Trump’s right. These people are sick. Let them moan and complain. Perhaps “bad morale” is a sign of progress being made.

Sympathy only extends so far when reports surface of poor morale in a federal department due to the Trump administration’s leaders and policies. Diplomats at the State Department don’t have to like what they’re told to do. The days of swamp creatures calling the shots are over. And that’s a good thing.

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