You probably remember “The Peter Principle” a book which posited a concept in management theory that “the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and ‘managers rise to the level of their incompetence,’” according to Wikipedia.
Now tweak the concept slightly to where the candidate is not even performing properly in his or her current role, and in any other universe other than the alternate one into which the planet plunged in the wee hours of 11/09/16, wouldn’t even be in consideration for the post in question to begin with, and you have the “Papadopolous Principle.” George Papadopolous was the keystone of Trump’s crack foreign policy team and a “2009 college grad who lists Model UN as a credential,” as a WaPo headline read. Model UN is an extra curricular activity in which students roleplay delegates and committees in the United Nations. Wow. A foreign policy advisor who played government in college a few years earlier. This isn’t an eccentricity or anomaly, this is part of a clearly identifiable pattern in Trump’s hiring philosophy. Washington Post:
Two things led to the identification of Papadopoulos by Trump in that editorial board meeting, two things that have helped explain Trump’s candidacy and presidency and, specific to this moment, the quickly erupting dispute over Trump’s decision to name Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician, to head the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The first is that Papadopoulos probably wouldn’t have been appointed to any position in any other major campaign. (That he came to Trump from the faltering campaign of Ben Carson supports that idea.) Papadopoulos had few significant credentials generally, and much fewer credentials specific to the job to which he had been appointed. But Trump was hardly in a position to turn away assistance. From the outset, the Republican establishment kept Trump at a distance, assuming that his virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric would make him too toxic to be a viable candidate. The party had spent decades building a bench with experience in foreign-policy issues that covered a broad spectrum of approaches. But the people on that bench either worried about Trump as a candidate or worried about offending the establishment, so they stayed away. Trump was left with the Papadopouloses.
The second is that Trump didn’t really care. During his time in politics he has vacillated between worriedly wanting to do the things that candidates are supposed to do and ostentatiously ignoring them. His campaign put together policy papers and he had advisory teams because it was expected, not because he had fully articulated policy ideas or was relying on the input of others. He was more than happy to put forward Papadopoulos in that meeting with The Post, even calling him an “excellent guy.” Someone gave him a name, and he wanted to say it, so he said it. The end.
That is totally the blueprint and it has happened before. Remember 24 year old Taylor Weyeneth, a Trump campaign worker who was appointed White House Liasion for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a $350Million program committed to solving the biggest opioid crisis in the nation’s history? At 22 he was a frat boy and golf tournament organizer, at 23 a Trump appointee and rising star. Same scenario as Papadopolous, different day.
His brief biography offers few clues that he would so quickly assume a leading role in the drug policy office, a job recently occupied by a lawyer and a veteran government official. Weyeneth’s only professional experience after college and before becoming an appointee was working on Trump’s presidential campaign.
Weyeneth’s ascent from a low-level post to deputy chief of staff is the result, in large part, of staff turnover and vacancies. The story of his appointment and remarkable rise provides insight into the Trump administration’s political appointments and the troubled state of the drug policy office.
Weyeneth lasted only a short while in January, before
lies discrepancies on his resume forced his resignation, a foreshadowing of exactly what happened to Ronny Jackson this week. Just as Weyeneth was depicted as fresh blood, one who displayed “passion and commitment on the issue of opioids and drug addiction,” so too was Jackson seen as a breath of fresh air. His biggest credential for the job was impressing Trump during a news conference where he declared Trump could “live to be 200.”
Jackson headed up a medical team of 70, never more than that, yet Trump saw no issue with him heading up a massive government bureaucracy employing 360,000. No biggy. What’s the problem? As the Post said, “asking Jackson to lead VA is a bit like asking a random guy from the Bronx to run New York City.” Jackson was comically underqualified for the job and that was before even routine vetting uncovered the fact that he’s a belligerent drunk and then things got ridiculous. And you haven’t seen the last of this, by a long shot.
This pattern isn’t new with Jackson, but Jackson encapsulates it neatly. Trump appoints whom he wants to appoint from the pool of people willing to accept that appointment. That seems to mean that a lot of positions go unfilled, and it seems to result in a lot of turnover.
This is why we need a verb form of Papadopoulos: Trump Papadopoulos’d this. He likes Jackson, clearly. He clearly feels that Jackson can handle the job. That, to Trump, was the most important thing, not what external qualifications Jackson might have had. Or, for that matter, the political strength of Jackson’s candidacy for the position.
A verb form of Papadopolous to describe Trump’s hiring process is a beginning, but the first thing that needs to be done is a new word must be invented to replace “unprecedented” which died of over exposure in the first few months of the Trump regime. Any takers?