There is no place for an aristocracy in our government. That concept was fairly well-established by our founding fathers. It is this well-established concept that makes the travel decisions by former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, so disturbing.
When you consider how he railed in 2009 against government use of private planes (granted, 2009 saw a Democrat in the White House and a Democrat-controlled Congress, but still--!), and then, in 2017 chooses to spend in excess of $25,000 of taxpayer money to travel to Philadelphia from Washington via private jet, the operative word is likely “HYPOCRISY!”
Regardless of the level of your government position you are still a government employee and with that comes the responsibility to spend the taxpayers money judiciously.
During my time as a fed I knew the rules and protocols and was quite aware how that applied to government travel, and I traveled quite often on the government dime both domestically and internationally, always required to use the cheapest mode of transport with few exceptions.
Price, as a former Congressman, knew those rules as well. Yet, hypocrisy is not the word I would choose to capture this particular transgression.
The word I would choose as the operative word is “OPTICS!”
Optics is the word used by Trump on the South Lawn of the White House about an hour before the resignation or dismissal of Tom Price from the cabinet.
When it comes to this president it is clearly about the optics, not what is appropriate but about how it is perceived and how it reflects on himself. Would Tom Price have been moved out of his position if his travel decisions were not revealed by the free and independent press? The same can be said about the dismissals of other Trump administration officials. It is all about the optics.
When the “Russia thing” presented bad optics, Jim Comey was fired as FBI Director. When Acting Attorney General Sally Yates brought to the attention of administration officials the vulnerability surrounding then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, she was fired. When those vulnerabilities created really bad optics, Flynn himself was fired.
When the optics of white supremacy became too visually unacceptable, even Steve Bannon was let go. Who, though, is really to blame for the horrible optics that seem to always follow this administration?
Like in every administration the president sets the example. It starts at the top.
The operative word for Richard Nixon's administration became “cover-up.” Conversely, the operative words of the scandal-free, eight-year administration of Barack Obama were “dignity” and “integrity.”
The operative words of the eight-month Trump administration: “entitled,” “deception,” “the rules don't apply to me!” Is there any wonder that the very same individuals who screamed the loudest, “lock her up,” because of conducting government work on private emails have just been found to have conducted government work on private emails? That includes Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, and the two Steves, Miller and Bannon.
“Hypocrisy” doesn't do this situation justice, but then, again, hypocrisy doesn't matter all that much to this administration because it is all about the optics. Whether these optics result in further action remains to be seen.
The point, however, is that a president who refuses to divest himself of his financial interests prior to taking office as his predecessors have done sets the example for the members of his administration.
A candidate for president who refuses to reveal his tax returns as his predecessors have done sets the example for the members of his staff.
A president who costs the taxpayers millions of dollars for his record number of golf outings and his trips to Mar-a-lago and Bedminster on an almost weekly basis sets the example of the members of his administration.
To have the Secret Service pay for the use of golf carts while they are following him on his own golf course to be in position to protect this president is an insult to every taxpaying American and, shall I say it, not money well spent!
When the curtain is pulled back, not by Toto, but by the independent free press to reveal the “optics” of this administration there is more than one phony wizard standing behind that curtain, it is a president and “all his men.”
It is only when the optics poorly reflect on him that the president will sacrifice his men to attempt to save his own face.
Make no mistake about it, though, the elitist actions of his staff are directly related to the elitist actions of this president. The conning of America continues and will continue as long as he is in office.
I'll end this piece as I started it: There is no place for an aristocracy in our government.
America choosing to place this aristocracy at the head of our government is an affront to our democracy with which I will never fully be able to come to terms.