Thursday, May 25, 2017

The President's Men

Donald Trump appears to be severely limited in intelligence, moral fiber, emotional maturity, and good sense, and he has surrounded himself, by and large with a cabinet of mediocrity or incompetence (which at least is more than you can say about the White House staff).

Take the words today of Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, who said that poverty is mostly "a state of mind."  If you are poor, apparently, in a country driven by greed and self-interest, it's a matter of outlook.

And he went further: Helping people may not better their lives, he said in a radio interview.  The unfortunate poor should pull themselves up by the bootstraps as he did and become brain surgeons.

Luckily, there does seem to be at least one cabinet officer with brains, courage, and honesty: Jim Mattis, the new Secretary of Defense profiled this week in a revealing piece by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker.

Key quote that struck me:  Asked what worried him most about America today, he didn't say ISIS or the defense budget but alienation.  He singled out the lack of political unity and "friendliness"; "it seems an awful lot of people in America and around the world feel spiritually and personally alienated, whether it be from organized religion or from community school districts or from their government."

Wow, this tough Marine Corps officer speaks in full, grammatical sentences about spirituality.  People, he rightly notes, are too often so self-absorbed in their individual pursuits (such as making money) that they have lost the sense of being connected to something larger than themselves.  No wonder, he said, they no longer care about their fellow man.

I wish it were possible for Mattis to educate his cabinet colleagues, especially Ben Carson.  But, of course, it's too late.

No comments: