It may not last for long, but it appears the never-ending chaos and dysfunction in the Trump administration will soon lead to former North Carolina Transportation Secretary and Wake County school superintendent Tony Tata serving as the top policy official in the U.S. Defense Department.
As you will recall, Tata, who is a retired Army Brigadier General as well as a novelist and one-time Fox News commentator, was tapped for the position of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy by President Trump earlier this year, but saw the nomination go up in flames in the Republican-controlled Senate after multiple objections were raised from both sides of the aisle to many of Tata’s outrageous past statements — including calling President Barack Obama “a terrorist leader,” and saying that Islam “the most oppressive violent religion that I know of.”
A month or so later, however, Trump simply bypassed the Senate and appointed Tata to be the assistant to the undersecretary — a position that does not require confirmation by the Senate.
Now, today, with a new series of departures and firings taking place at the Pentagon as Trump’s post-election tantrum continues to play out, it appears that Tata may be left in charge — at least for the next couple months. This from Politico:
The departure of James Anderson, the acting undersecretary of defense for policy, potentially paves the way for Anthony Tata, President Donald Trump’s controversial nominee for the top policy job who was pulled from consideration due to Islamophobic tweets, to take over the policy shop. Anderson’s resignation also comes one day after Defense Secretary Mark Esper was fired by Trump, also over policy disagreements….
Tata, who has been performing the duties of the deputy position since the summer, will now likely slide into the No. 1 role. After the White House announced his nomination this year, Tata came under fire for tweets calling Obama a “terrorist leader” and for referring to Islam as the “most oppressive violent religion I know of,” among other controversial statements.
Tata, who was a frequent Fox News guest, also derided House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Twitter, and shared an article that promoted a conspiracy theory that Obama was a “Manchurian candidate.” Tata later said he regretted the now-deleted tweets.
(As an ironic side note, there’s been no word of opposition from North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis to the appointment even though Tata resigned from the military after an Army inquiry concluded that he had been involved in at least two adulterous affairs — the very same alleged offense Tillis used to bludgeon Cal Cunningham in the recently concluded U.S. Senate campaign.)
There’s no indication at this point whether Tata will have the time or capacity to make a real difference in U.S. defense policy during the 71 days that remain in Trump’s presidential term. One hopes that his chief duty in the coming days will involve preparing for a new administration and turning out the lights.
Of course, if his record of service in North Carolina is any indication, he’s unlikely to have trouble filling the days. During his time as North Carolina Secretary of Transportation, Tata still found time to pen his dime store novels and, at one point, to be absent from the state during a paralyzing winter storm to appear at a book promotion event in Chicago.
Come to think of it, such a book tour might be the best possible thing that could happen to the Pentagon at this point.