President Trump has been a pretty sore loser about this whole election thing, and according to a report from Politico, the attitude is trickling down into his cabinet. In an all-hands virtual meeting on Tuesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told career employees that they must be “the resistance” inside the department as she and other political appointees at the top step aside in the coming weeks.
“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist,” DeVos reportedly told staffers. “Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students.”
The comment from the gaffe-prone cabinet head is strange for a few reasons. Her Tuesday address, which acknowledged that career employees outlast individual administrations, suggests that education-policy experts within the department fully signed on to her and the president’s wish list, which included protecting college students accused of sexual assault, slashing the federal education budget, and cutting federal funding for the Special Olympics entirely. As Politico notes, her remarks are in the context of a years-long antagonism with career officials: “She tangled with the agency’s union over reorganizations and workplace policies, such as teleworking rules, and blamed bureaucrats at the agency for making it difficult to get things done.” It’s also odd that a department head would use the language of Trump-condemning liberals to encourage what could be described as deep-state opposition to the president — a frequent complaint of DeVos’s current boss.
As for the method of resistance, Devos’s own record of cuts and critiques of federal education policy suggest that much of the will to obstruct could leave with her. “This building has caused more problems than it solved,” she said of the Education Department, in an interview with Reason magazine in October.