In the age of Trump, the reward for a job well done: a tweet and a dismissal.
“Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector.”
And so the career of another government employee comes to an end, a summary dismissal via tweet from the clown masquerading as president.
Admittedly we’re all the main characters in our own dramas, and Kevin McAleenan was probably the main character in his. But to us he was little more than a minor functionary, a name in an occasional news story. Born in Los Angeles—taught sociology in college—attended law school—hoped for a career with the FBI. Eventually he was recruited to the former U.S. Customs Service to establish an anti-terrorism office as the agency merged with the U.S. Border Patrol. Now he’s out of a job. At 48 he’ll be able to spend more time with his family: Trump’s orders.
It appears that as fair-minded and stern as McAleenan tried to be at his post, he couldn’t live up to the cruelty of martinets like Stephen Miller and Ken Cuccinelli. McAleenan also underwent scathing criticism from Democrats who saw him as effecting trump’s sadistic policies a little too enthusiastically. It appears, in retrospect, that he was trying to walk a fine line— treating immigrants with humanity while enforcing inhumane rules. Like so many others, it was a line he couldn't walk. How many of us could?
I have no doubt that there are doctors in it for the money, teachers in it for the summers off, and politicians in it for the free postage, but for the most part doctors, teachers, politicians—most professionals—enter their field with the hope of doing some good. McAleenan was no different. And his reward? A position that was never formalized, and a dismissal by a man who aspires to nothing but his own self-aggrandizement.
And let's all admit that this is another one of those situations that we, the voters, allowed to happen. In our lazy refusal to discern the differences between political philosophies, we were willing to dismiss all politicians as crooks, thus making it easy for us to elect a complete incompetent because, after all, it made no difference. Now we think maybe it does.
Worse still, since despite Trump, America has not (so far) spun off the earth, young people who may have aspired to government positions—who would have studied diplomacy, business administration, public policy and the like, will turn to other areas, leaving the void to be filled by presidential lackeys. Government service, once considered an accomplishment, will be viewed with disdain; and the brilliant minds who might still constitute our best hopes for the future will turn to other professions. Eventually America as a world power, as a benign influence, as a model of democracy, will disappear. Rome didn't "fall" overnight. We won't either. But Trump is laying the groundwork.
Meanwhile the White House refuse pile grows taller, is littered with names like Kevin McAleenan and, also this week, Marie Yovanovitch, the United States Ambassador to Ukraine, whose record of stability and honorable service did not jibe with the Trump administration’s strict code of subservience and servility. For her years of reliable service, she was told to take the next plane home.
McAleenan and Yovanovitch. The chances that their names will appear in a history book ever are probably nil, but as symptoms of how our situation can only become more perilous, they probably deserve an entire chapter.