In a move that’s been expected for some time, president-elect Trump has nominated Dr. Ben Carson to be his Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. I see pluses and minuses to this selection.
On the plus side, I’m confident that Dr. Carson will act decisively against the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) regulation promulgated by the Obama HUD. If he does, this “plus” will likely outweigh any and all “minuses.”
In addition, Carson is an intelligent man and a good conservative. That combination hasn’t consistently been evident in the selections by Republican presidents for this job.
On the minus side, Carson lacks experience managing bureaucracies. During the campaign, Trump chided Carson for only ever having supervised a few nurses. And Carson himself has said he would be “like a fish out of water” as a federal bureaucrat.
In addition, Carson lacks expertise in the issues the HUD Secretary deals with. His experience is in the field of health care.
Carson does have first hand experience with the inner city. He grew up there under very difficult circumstances. But that experience, which he gained many decades ago, isn’t same the thing as substantive expertise about current problems and circumstances related to housing and urban development.
As I said, though, Carson is quite intelligent. I assume that, with hard work, he can gain the substantive expertise required of a HUD Secretary.
I’m less sure about the managerial dimension of the job. The challenge of managing a bureaucracy full of hard core liberals who know the lay of the land and will have an open line to left-wing journalists will be daunting. For a first-time bureaucrat, “fish out of water” may not begin to describe it.