By now the Betsy DeVos/Special Olympics flap has been resolved, and since our news cycle does not allow for revisiting the inanity of the recent past, we should simply await the newest craziness.
Except that one rose to new heights (or sank to new depths) of absurdity, and encompassing the best of Trump: cynicism, cruelty, short-sightedness, unilateralism, volatility, and ignorance.
If you don’t remember the details (it was so so many hours ago!), Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, speaking before a House Committee last week, proposed a $17.6 million cut to the Special Olympics budget, part of an overall Education Department budget reduction of ten percent.
Just a bit of background: like virtually everyone in the Trump administration, DeVos seems singularly unfit for her job. She hates public schools and has little use for public school teachers. Her love of private education, however, never translated into improving that institution either, at least in her home state of Michigan, where private schools ran amok with no oversight while critically damaging the public school system (and oh, by the way, failing to educate its students.)
Trump appears not to like DeVos either, though they share a common love of wealth. (DeVos’s estimated financial worth is $ 1 billion.) Some say Trump’s antipathy toward her isn’t so much personal as it is philosophical: he has no respect for the Education Department and considers funding it a necessary evil. In keeping with that nonchalance, he sent her off to defend the unpopular position that would never fly anyway, then threw her under the golf cart by rescinding the order.
In a sense he did what he’s done many times: started a fire, put it out, then demanded praise for his public service.
Yet this manipulation of the most vulnerable—like the children at the southern border—is particularly onerous. Such acts are always the province of a bully, but seldom are they this baldfaced. Or stupid. Even for Trump.
Enter the evil twin: Mick Mulvaney.
Though the DeVos imbroglio reeks of Trumpism, its genesis and promotion lie with White House chief of staff Mulvaney, the Tea Party aficionado whose sole desire is to return the Republican Party to 2010. Mulvaney’s vision does not extend beyond slashing spending, and though he is deserving of our scorn for the Special Olympics assault, we must also recognize that most of his suggestions are unpopular with almost everybody. Only the holdover Tea Partiers support him, and they have as much clout these days as their darling, Paul Ryan.
I know it's April 1, but no joke: Mulvaney actually made the president look bad. Even after the "change of heart," the stink of exploiting the Special Olympians remains. Now as Mulvaney goes after Obamacare and Medicaid, we can take some solace in the fact that his ideas will never fly, and the president's backtracking will make him look even more feckless than he is.
As for Betsy DeVos, she may be in traction following those twisted affirmations of her love for Special Olympics the day after she claimed they had enough money anyway. "Only the best people," Trump promised in 2016.
Maybe they just haven't arrived yet.