Mike Dubke, like many employees in the Trump White House, was new to the civil service when he entered the administration. In Dubke’s case, this entrance — as Communications Director — took place in February, and will be followed by an exit in June. After roughly three months in the position, Dubke is leaving due to “personal” reasons. In the private sector, Dubke was a minor powerhouse in the cutthroat (even for politics) world of political attack ads as the founder of Crossroads Media, which describes itself as “the premier Republican media services firm, specializing in advertising strategy and placement for political candidates.” As the Communications Director for a president whose message is unclear or false when it exists at all, he was a failure in the same way that Sisyphus failed: constantly, painfully, and in a manner that was sure to get him crushed under the weight of his impossible task sooner or later. For the Greek legend, that meant a boulder. For Dubke, it was a far larger and more unwieldy object: Trump’s ego.
When Dubke was brought into the Trump fold in February, it was ostensibly to lighten the burden of Sean Spicer, who already seemed to be buckling under the weight of the Chaucerian fraudulence he had to peddle for Trump on a daily basis. But for some commentators, the hiring was also a sign that Trump was willing to go outside his close circle of advisors to fill important positions. Dubke’s departure is proof of the opposite. Trump only trusts those who have been with him (how difficult not to add “implicated” between “been” and “with”) from the beginning. One of the many problems with this strategy is that there simply aren’t enough people with tickets for his crazy train. This means that as of May 29, according to a joint effort to track appointments by the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, 442 positions requiring senate confirmation still don’t even have a nominee. Only 39 have been filled.
On top of Trump’s laissez faire attitude towards filling the open positions, few people are actually interested in them when that means serving under the current president. According to the New York Times, “four possible successors [to Michael Dubke] contacted by the White House declined to be considered.” The same piece added that “disclosures from investigations stemming from Russian meddling in last year’s election — coupled with the president’s habit of undercutting his staff — have driven away candidates for West Wing jobs that normally would be among the most coveted in American politics, according to people involved in the search.”
These appalling figures only take into account those positions which require confirmation by the senate. Trump’s governmental hiring freeze and lack of respect for even the most basic responsibilities of his office (like choosing government employees) mean that basic government function has been impeded by the Commander-in-Chief’s unwillingness to bring anyone on board, as well as a lack of interest from potential hires. As one Pentagon employee told The New Yorker in April, “The [Defense Department] is being run by a skeleton crew; career officers and civil servants doing jobs that are supposed to be performed by political appointees. It’s like going to work on a Sunday — there’s no one here.” And this is from someone at the Pentagon, a branch of government the hawkish and deranged Trump can be expected to slightly care about — being responsible, as they are, for all of the president’s favorite toys, like those used in his botched Yemen raid. One can only imagine how little Trump cares about ending similar chaos at, for example, the Office of Internal and Regulatory Affairs, which Trump has yet to nominate an administrator for. The hundreds of unfilled positions littering Trump’s government is the clearest sign of all that this isn’t a presidential administration in the traditional sense of the word, but rather a possibly foreign-influenced circus aiming to undermine the American Experiment from within.