Can a headless chicken continue to lead the world?
Politics in the United States is in a state of unprecedented chaos and confusion barely seven weeks into the presidency of Donald Trump.
The White House has so far reflected the 45th president's ignorance of public affairs and some executive agencies have shown their non-readiness to help lead for the next four years.
Slogans and gestures are President Trump's modus operandi. This is a continuation of his campaign rhetoric that sought to tell his constituency what it wanted to hear. But campaigning is different from governing - when reality imposes itself and hard facts stand in the way of grandiose promises and policy proposals.
The recent re-issuance of the travel ban on citizens from Muslim-majority countries is a case in point. There is no evidence to justify the ban as a means of protecting the United States. A leaked report by the Department of Homeland Security, authored a few days before the new ban, refuted the administration's claim about radicalisation.
Re-issuing the ban after its first version was challenged in the courts adds nothing to the president's policies or achievements, except to say that he did something about a campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the United States. At any rate, the state of Hawaii has announced that it will legally challenge the new ban, making its fate doubtful.
|Importantly, the president seems to be most interested in his image and abhors any serious examination of his record, policies, or announcements.
Repealing the Obama-era Affordable Care Act is another example. Building on a visceral Republican dislike for the law, President Trump vowed to repeal it as soon as he got into office. But once there, he discovered that healthcare issues are complicated and require diligent work.
Instead, he referred the matter to congressional Republicans to write a new law. They obliged on March 6 with new legislation that seems to fall short of the president's original promises - and it is doubtful if it will receive the support of all Republicans in Congress.
Importantly, the president seems to be most interested in his image and abhors any serious examination of his record, policies, or announcements. Doubts about Russian interference in the elections surround his administration. In response to a growing chorus about public investigations, he feels he is under siege and lashes out.
In early morning tweets on March 4, he accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign headquarters at Trump Tower. Having no evidence to substantiate his accusation did not faze him. He instead instructed administration officials to defend his claim, as FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied the allegations.
He then tweeted erroneously that Obama released Guantanamo detainees who re-joined the battlefield. The truth is that only nine of 122 in question were freed by Obama. The rest were let go by Republican George W Bush.
|Indeed, if things remain unchanged in the White House or the wider administration, the United States will for the next four years be derided as a headless chicken.
Trump's failures and untruths occur while his administration is woefully understaffed. As of March 2, two cabinet members had not yet been confirmed, and by February 25, some 2,000 administration positions had yet to be filled.
The president and his cohort blame the Democrats in Congress for delaying appointments, but the real culprits are Trump's lack of preparedness to govern and the reluctance among potential candidates to work in his administration.
Some confirmed cabinet members may not be what the United States needs today. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for instance, is mysteriously absent from the political world. He has not uttered any substantive comments on such issues as North Korea's missile launches, Iran's challenge, Syria, Russia, or other burning issues. His department is slated to lose about 37 percent of its budget while the White House takes over foreign policy decision-making.
Scott Pruitt, now administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, denies that climate change is a problem and has attempted to sue the department 13 times before coming to lead it. His agency is set to lose 24 percent of its budget and fire 20 percent of its workforce.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry campaigned previously on a platform to abolish the department he now leads.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied when he denied meeting Russian officials during the campaign. In fact, he twice met with the Russian ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson declared that slaves forcibly brought from Africa were immigrants looking for a better life.
The list goes on.
If things remain unchanged in the White House or the wider administration, the United States will for the next four years be derided as a headless chicken. In that case, it would be logical to question whether it can remain the leader of the world.
Imad K. Harb is the Director of Research and Analysis at Arab Center Washington DC.
Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab