Tillerson, Kelly, and Our Two-Century Plague of Unelected Bureaucrats
The increasingly hysterical Left insists, on ever-shifting pretexts, that Trump is a danger to the Republic. Meanwhile, we have just received a new indication of a real and ongoing threat to the Republic that will likely be little noted nor long remembered. Nikki Haley’s revelation that Rex Tillerson and John Kelly tried to pressure her into joining their anti-Trump cabal was a bracing reminder that America has been plagued for nearly two centuries with arrogant bureaucrats who were not elected president, but thought it only fitting and proper to arrogate to themselves the powers of the presidency – for the good (they said) of the nation, of course!
Take, for example, the cabinet of the unheralded President John Tyler, who became our tenth president on April 4, 1841, when President William Henry Harrison died after only a month in office. As soon as Tyler took office, he announced that he would retain Harrison’s cabinet. At its first meeting with Tyler as president, however, Secretary of State Daniel Webster told him that Harrison had made decisions based on the vote of a majority of the cabinet, and that the cabinet members expected the new president to do the same. This was unlikely in the first place, as Harrison had not made any significant decisions during his short time as president, and Tyler immediately, politely, but decisively rejected Webster’s power play.
Five months later, the cabinet tried again. Tyler had twice vetoed bills to recharter the Bank of the United States, a precursor of the Federal Reserve that placed the public funds in private hands and became an epicenter of corruption, with Bank officials buying off congressmen and senators to do their bidding (sound familiar?). The holdover Harrison cabinet supported the Bank, and tried to strong-arm Tyler into submission: on September 11, 1841, every one of the cabinet members (except, notably, Webster) resigned. The plan was to kneecap Tyler and force him either to beg them to return, at which point he would be under the thumb of supporters of the Bank, or to resign himself. Instead, Tyler stood firm and weathered the storm, although a recalcitrant and hostile Congress made it none too easy for him to gain confirmation for his new cabinet appointments.