Newly appointed Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke made a grand entrance on his first day on the job: He rode several blocks through Washington DC, to his new office, on a horse. [Not making this up. Check the link.] Accompanying him were mounted U.S. Park Police, a group of chanting Native Americans, a small crowd of onlookers and hundreds of Interior Department staff waiting for him.
It was an over-the-top production number strangely befitting a department head appointed by Reality-TV-Star-in-Chief Donald Trump. Clearly, dignity and humility are out; showmanship is what counts.
It makes me think that other Trump-appointed department heads might benefit [in the eyes of the boss] from a similarly showy first-day entrance—or any day thereafter when theater would be better than actually doing one’s job or facing hard — or basic — policy questions. Using Zinke as a role model, here’s what we might see:
Ben Carson, Trump’s [bizarre] appointee to helm the Department of Housing and Urban Development, coming to work in a mobile home.
Or, Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s billionaire banker Secretary of the Treasury, could arrive in a Brink’s armored car, as fellow billionaire Wilbur Ross—Secretary of Commerce – delivers himself at the wheel of a semi-tractor-trailer truck overflowing with cash.
How about Betsy DeVos, Trump’s no-nothing Secretary of Education, showing up in the [private], luxuriously appointed school bus of her choice?
Isn’t it obvious to Trump’s crack media team that Secretary of Defense James Mattis should forego the limo and go to work in a tank? And visualize John Kelly, Director of Homeland Security, being dropped off at the office by a surveillance drone.
Picture this, too: Rick Perry once famously called for the total destruction of the Department of Energy, but couldn’t remember its name. Now, he’s in charge of it. How perfect would it be for him to arrive at the office, wearing his see-I’m-a-smart-guy glasses, and fall through the door after slipping on a banana peel. Oops.
For Tom Price, who Trump appointed to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as head of Health and Human Services, the proper, media-savvy form of transportation would be an ambulance, sirens screaming and lights flashing.
Sonny Perdue, former Governor of Georgia, has been picked [pun intended] to head the Department of Agriculture. As Governor, he drew headlines for PAHWAL [piloting a helicopter without a license] and for praying for rain on the steps of the state capital. Unfortunately, he’s not related to the poultry-magnate Perdues, because a chicken-suit arrival would have been fittingly comic. But he did grow up on a hog farm, so a first-day ride-along on a manure truck might be a good fit.
Personally, I would have preferred that Trump’s Attorney General, the corrupt and totally weaselly Jeff Sessions, had never had a first day in office. I don’t know what vehicle he arrived in on his first day, but I’m hoping that he leaves in a paddy wagon.
As for Rex Tillerson, the new Secretary of State whom Trump is completely ignoring, he has already arrived at the office: The problem is that Trump bought him a Harry-Potter-esque Cape of Invisibility to wear for his first day.
I can’t decide if Ryan Zinke’s first-day stunt reminded me more of a well-known Vladimir Putin image [Zinke kept his shirt on], or of the sheriff-arrival scene of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. Either way, Zinke’s grand entrance makes me ask myself, once again—as I have been since Donald Trump took office and began appointing the least qualified, most self-promoting, most corrupt people he could find to run the government—who are these people, anyway?
But I must admit that Zinke’s choice of vehicles on which to arrive at work is very fitting—he was, after all, appointed to office by a horse’s ass.