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If Trump appoints his pilot to lead the FAA, why not his chauffeur for Transportation?

If Trump appoints his pilot to lead the FAA, why not his chauffeur for Transportation?
Donald Trump's plane flies over a campaign rally at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland during the 2016 Republican National Convention. He is thinking about appointing the pilot of his private plane to run the Federal Aviation Administration. (Los Angeles Times)

So President Trump has been considering appointing his personal pilot, John Dunkin, to head the Federal Aviation Administration, drawing heat from aviation experts and members of Congress over the aviator's relative lack of administrative and policy qualifications. It's not quite as harebrained as, say, appointing a pediatric brain surgeon to run Housing and Urban Development, but operating Trump's small private air fleet isn't quite the background one needs to direct the FAA, with its $16 billion budget and 45,000 employees.

Credentials, though, haven't been a big factor in Trump's decisions on who to hire to help him run the government. Witness Jared Kushner. Trump famously likes to surround himself with folks that he says look like they're from Central Casting – people like Mike Pence, whom Trump tapped as his running mate because, among other reasons, Trump thought that he looked the part (that also was a point in Mitt Romney's favor when he was under consideration for secretary of State, and Trump made the same comment about Gen. James Mattis).

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But the idea of Trump naming his pilot to run the FAA leads to a fun game. If Trump's Cabinet quit en masse (stop cheering – this is just hypothetical), what other personal connections might he tap?

My colleague Mariel Garza suggests Trump's chauffeur as secretary of Transportation, and his personal trainer (speaking of hypothetical) to run the National Institutes of Health.

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There are other potential matches. Stormy Daniels could oversee the National Endowment for the Arts, and a head groundskeeper for one of Trump's golf courses would be perfect for the National Park Service.

Whoever served as superintendent of the New York Military Academy when Trump attended as a child could be secretary of Defense – look at how well that experience prepared Trump to be commander-in-chief. The president could name the exterminator at Trump Tower to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Barron Trump, because he's in elementary school, would work for secretary of Education, and Donald Trump Jr. – whose diplomatic skills are a bit underdeveloped – would be a natural for the State Department. Melania Trump, who has made ending cyber-bullying her main public issue, could take over as chair of the Federal Communications Commission.

If Trump’s Cabinet quit en masse (stop cheering – this is just hypothetical), what other personal connections might he tap?


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The doorman at Trump Tower? Perfect for Homeland Security. Remember Harold Bornstein, the Manhattan doctor who wrote out a letter in five minutes attesting that candidate Trump "will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency?" Health and Human Services.

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How about interior designer Tham Kannalikham (whom the first lady hired to re-do the White House residence) for secretary of the Interior (Decorating)? Ivanka Trump's ob/gyn for Labor secretary? Former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal for Veterans Affairs?

How much worse could they do than, say, Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency or Ryan Zinke at Interior?

Follow my posts and re-tweets at @smartelle on Twitter

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