The most powerful Cabinet ever faces the least serious hearings ever

That's an obvious problem

The next Cabinet will undergo little scrutiny.
(Image credit: Gary Waters / Alamy Stock Photo)

Showing their boundless capacity for procedural creativity, Republicans have scheduled no fewer than nine confirmation hearings for Cabinet secretaries over the course of three days this week. Wednesday is also supposed to feature the first press conference Donald Trump has held since July, which if it happens — I'll believe that Trump will submit to probing questions when I see it — will of course dominate the news cycle, leaving any substantive questions Democrats have for the nominees to the inside pages.

Just as this president is the one whose tax returns we most desperately need to see, these Cabinet appointments are the ones whose backgrounds, beliefs, and conflicts of interests most require detailed examination. Many of them have never served in government before and/or have vast fortunes that could be affected by their decisions in office. They and other appointments seem to have been chosen because they're rich, or because Trump had seen them on TV, or, in one case, because the nominee had a cool nickname. Perhaps most importantly, they'll be serving a president who is a proud ignoramus about the operations of government, and therefore has virtually no idea what they ought to be doing and will probably have no idea what they're actually doing. That could give them unusual power in the Trump administration.

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Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a senior writer with The American Prospect magazine and a blogger for The Washington Post. His writing has appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and web sites, and he is the author or co-author of four books on media and politics.