President Donald Trump has reportedly rewarded one of his few prominent African-American surrogates — the Black Lives Matter-bashing Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee — with a plum position in the Department of Homeland Security in their Office of Partnership and Engagement.
The appointment comes at an opportune time for Clarke. He was facing bad re-election prospects amid low approval ratings and renewed coverage of the fact that, while he is a registered Democrat (for the purposes of competing in a heavily blue district), his politics couldn’t be further to the right.
Clarke’s new position has yet to be officially confirmed by the White House and appears not to be subject to Senate confirmation.
There is another reason that Clarke’s appointment fits into a larger political narrative — he is the latest in a long line of black conservative mascots who have been elevated to enviable positions of power — think Dr. Ben Carson — not because of skills or expertise, but because of their undying loyalty to the Republican agenda.
Clarke, who gained national recognition after an appearance at last year’s Republican National Convention, has emerged as an outspoken proponent of every far-right talking point — from his declaration that it was “pitchforks and torches time” when it appeared that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency last November to saying that habeas corpus should be suspended in order to detain upwards of a million terrorist sympathizers he insists live in the U.S.
He has also been a useful idiot when it comes to vilifying black activists, which he can do without fear of being accused of racism, unlike a lot of his white Republican peers.
Like Herman Cain before him, Clarke has co-opted a cowboy swagger and has taken to using some of the most extreme rhetoric in the name of Trump and in defense of controversial law enforcement tactics.
For example, he’s called Ferguson protesters “vultures on a roadside carcass” and has urged activists to “stop trying to fix the police, fix the ghetto.”
Take a look at this gem of a take on the Black Lives Matter movement:
Before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS to being down our legal constituted republic. You heard it first here.
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) October 28, 2015
Clarke has called for Planned Parenthood to be renamed “Planned Genocide,” while alleging that the health provider is targeting African-Americans.
Additionally, this is a man who once boasted that the only way he would ever reach across the aisle to work with progressive Democrats would be to “grab one of them by the throat.”
But his record as sheriff is even more disturbing than his extremist rhetoric.
His staff has been implicated in the 2016 dehydration death of an inmate in the Milwaukee County Jail (more than a dozen deaths have occurred there during Clarke’s tenure). Meanwhile, a female inmate has sued his jail for shackling her while she was receiving prenatal care and giving birth (she lost her baby in the process), presumably under the orders of Clarke. Earlier this year, he reportedly detained a man at an airport essentially for shaking his head at him.
This, coupled with Clarke’s clashes with local government officials in Milwaukee and his emphasis on making frequent Fox News appearances instead of better serving his constituents, would not make him appear to be an ideal candidate for an important Homeland Security position.
But that is the logical read on the situation.
Our president and his party prize loyalty over competency. Every American can plainly see what happens when you put inexperienced rookies in positions of power.
Look no further than the Constitutional crisis that continues to unfold and engulf Trump’s presidency, ensnaring the executive branch in an unprecedented investigation into potential acts of treason.
In this new role, Clarke would be tasked to act as liaison between the Department of Homeland Security and state, local and law enforcement and governments. This is a job that requires nuance, strategic thinking and an even temper.
Instead, we’re getting right wing tokenism run amok. Instead, we get Sheriff Sunken Place.