Let’s get us a buncha outsiders up in here

Charles Pierce on the Betsy DeVos hearing. (Not really a hearing, more of a façade of a hearing.)

As nearly as I can tell, the nominees for the president-elect’s Cabinet fall into several different categories. There are the people you’d pretty much expect from any Republican administration. (James Mattis, Michael Flynn, Ryan Zinke). There are the people who understand the mission of their departments and have spent their lives undermining it. (Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Rick Perry at Energy, Andrew Puzder at Labor). And there are the people who are fundamentally clueless about the general nature of public service. (Rex Tillerson at State.) On Tuesday night, DeVos demonstrated that she is that rarest of Trump administration fauna: Someone who fits capably into all three categories.

Cool. Standard (so hooray free market, to hell with losers) Republican, underminer, and clueless. There’s also the bribery aspect: can we count that as a fourth classification?

Her ignorance about the field she is nominated to be Secretary of which was particularly displayed when Al Franken questioned her:

Franken: I’m talking about the debate between proficiency in growth, what your thoughts on that?

DeVos: I was just asking the senator to clarify…

Franken: This is a subject that has been debated in the education community for years. I have advocated growth as the chairman, and every member of this committee knows, because with proficiency teachers ignore the kids of the top who are not going to fall below proficiency, and they ignore the kid at the bottom who they know will never get to proficiency. I have been an advocate for growth. But it surprises me that you don’t know this issue, and Mr. Chairman, I think this is a good reason for us to have more questions. This is a very important subject — education, our kids’ education. I think we are selling our kids short by not being able to have a debate on it.

As I may have mentioned, my father was a teacher and an administrator in the public high schools for over 35 years. He explained the essential difference between proficiency and growth to me 40 years ago. That a prospective Secretary of Education hadn’t the faintest idea what Franken was talking about should have been enough to make the committee adjourn itself in helpless laughter.

Or to Google yet again “emigration.”

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