A man of superlatives, President Trump promised to surround himself with “the best people.” A quick review of the White House fallen—a list that includes the likes of one Anthony Scaramucci and another Omarosa Manigault—suggests otherwise.
Perhaps because of hubris or perhaps because of paranoia, Trump made hiring decisions more often according to loyalty than actual ability. As we editorialized this weekend, this is an enduring and ugly problem. But that might be changing.
Nothing can redeem the awful performance that Matthew Petersen delivered last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. A district court nominee with little to no court experience, Petersen flopped around like a legal fish out of water for the better part of 10 minutes, showing the most gaping ignorance about the law. It was pathetic and it was therefore viral.
But from that incompetence comes a silver lining of humility. Trump called Sen. Joe Kennedy, the Louisiana Republican who tore his nominee to pieces, and said thanks.
“The president and I get along fine, and he has told me, he said, ‘Kennedy, when some of my guys send somebody over who’s not qualified, you do your job,’” the senator said during a local television interview. “And I said, ‘Thank you, Mr. President.’ And I intend to do that.”
Like former President Barack Obama before him, Trump wants to recast the judiciary in his image. That’s a worthy goal so long as he picks nominees based solely on their qualifications. He has done this with Neil Gorsuch at the Supreme Court along with dozens of other lower level judges. With senators like Kennedy keeping the nominees honest, the regeneration will continue. Applying what he learned in the Senate to the White House roster, subjecting his staff to a grueling interview, wouldn’t hurt either.