Tuesday, April 03, 2018


Sucks to be you, Scott Pruitt.

It doesn't surprise me to learn that Pruitt is a self-serving, rule-flouting, favorites-playing wellspring of corruption, a walking, talking swamp. What surprises me is that we're finding out just how corrupt he is, and that the stories are going mainstream -- right now they're going mainstream in rapid succession:

But why? Why would the president (as I think it's safe to assume) want Pruitt shamed this way? Isn't Pruitt doing exactly what Trump wants -- vigorously rejecting the notion of anthropogenic climate change while putting corporatist foxes in charge of the environmental henhouse?

Yes, but once a few negative stories emerged, Trump probably became angry; Trump believes everything they say on Fox News, very much including what they say about the climate and environmental regulation, but if he thinks someone is embarrassing him, he doesn't care whether that person is doing what he wants. I'm not sure why his reaction to embarrassing scandals involving a subordinate is to orchestrate the leaks of even more embarrassing scandals involving the same subordinate, but there you are.

I suspect that Trump also learned about a March New York Times story claiming that Pruitt is looking ahead to a possible presidential run in 2024. There can be only one alpha male in Trump World. Trump really doesn't like it if you work for him and start plotting to take his crown, even after he's no longer constitutionally entitled to it.

The shaming of this very Trumpian ideologue reminds me of a recent Time headline: "Jeff Sessions Is Winning for Donald Trump. If Only He Can Keep His Job." Sessions, like Pruitt, is effectively carrying out Trump's Foxist agenda (revival of the drug war, tough sentencing, disdain for civil rights enforcement, support for trigger-happy cops), yet he's in trouble.

But again, the explanation is simple: Trump believes in the right-wing agenda, but his own ego matters more to him. Don't steal his spotlight and don't embarrass him, even if you're doing everything he wants.

So will Pruitt have to go? Maybe, maybe not. We thought John Kelly was a goner not that long ago, and he's still there -- hell, Jeff Sessions is still there.

If I had to guess, I'd say Pruitt will stay, for the simple reason that there's no obvious replacement for him who's already working in the administration, and there's no obvious replacement working at Fox. That pretty much exhausts the list of Trump's preferred methods for making a personnel change. To dump Pruitt, Trump might actually have to conduct a normal candidate search. Presidenting is hard!

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