It’s like a bad joke. Donald Trump has hired a number of people for position in which they are not only unqualified but also actively despise.
Trump cabinet picks:
EPA against science
AG against justice
Ed against public education
Hud against fair housing
HHS against healthcare
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) December 7, 2016
And now the man he is reportedly courting to run the Food and Drug Administration can be added to that grim list. Trump is said to be zeroing in on a “staunch libertarian” named Jim O’Neill, a man whose Ayn Randian fanaticism has led him to conclude that testing medicine before it goes on the market is a violation of a corporations right to make a profit.
President-elect Donald Trump is weighing naming as Food and Drug Administration commissioner a staunch libertarian who has called for eliminating the agency’s mandate to determine whether new medicines are effective before approving them for sale.
“Let people start using them, at their own risk,” the candidate, Jim O’Neill, said in a 2014 speech to a biotech group.
O’Neill has also called for paying organ donors and setting up libertarian societies at sea — and has said he was surprised to discover that FDA regulators actually enjoy science and like working to fight disease.
Lost on O’Neill is the fact that the FDA has regulations in place to make pharmaceutical companies prove their new drugs aren’t dangerous precisely because the risks are so high. Allowing drug companies to decide when to make drugs public is a recipe for disaster. One bad pill could kill hundreds or even thousands of people before a recall could be issued.
O’Neill thinks the drug companies have it too hard as it is. At the same talk in 2014, he told the crowd that when someone gets poisoned by a drug, the FDA has to go through the “miserable process” of explaining what went wrong. He would prefer the FDA head (namely, a future Jim O’Neill) never having to analyze his failures.
“Every time the FDA commissioner approves something and someone gets sick who used it, the commissioner is summoned to a congressional committee that also controls his budget and forced to testify under oath, why he made this rash decision. … It’s a miserable process.”
This bull-headed “I’m right and I never have to look back or apologize” mirrors Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, who infamously told his staff that he was “always right” and the sooner their opinions aligned with his the better.
During a tense gathering of senior officials at an off-site retreat, he gave the assembled group a taste of his leadership philosophy, according to one person who attended the meeting and insisted on anonymity to discuss classified matters. Mr. Flynn said that the first thing everyone needed to know was that he was always right. His staff would know they were right, he said, when their views melded to his. The room fell silent, as employees processed the lecture from their new boss.
With guys like Flynn and O’Neill, Trump is assembling a team of ideologues who lack the one thing that is absolutely vital for anyone in a leadership position: The ability to admit they made a mistake. Instead, the group of right-wing fanatics seem eager to impose their will onto the rest of the country. It will be the largest experiment in what happens when the United States government is run by cronies in recent history.
For years, Republicans in Congress have stubbornly refused to do their jobs – with disastrous consequences. Now we are about to see what it looks like when the entire government actively works towards destroying the jobs they were appointed to.
It’s more than a bad joke. It’s gallows humor.
Featured image via Sara D. Davis/Getty Images