Crime and Safety

Biden’s return to ‘normalcy’ brought us crazy instead — like Sam Brinton

Remember the Trump years? Back then we were told the administration, like its head, President Donald J. Trump, was deeply unserious: impulsive, ignorant, possibly corrupt and always vulgar. All in all, a disgrace to the hallowed history of American government.

One argument for electing candidate Joseph Robinette Biden was that a Biden administration would restore normalcy to Washington. Instead of crazed, self-obsessed MAGA performers, a Biden team would be made up of sober, sensible establishment types. Boring, perhaps, but not crazy.

The problem with that argument, it turns out, is that our establishment nowadays isn’t sober or sensible or boring. In fact, it’s kind of, well, crazy.

Exhibit One is the Biden administration’s just-departed top nuclear-waste official, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy Sam Brinton. You might expect an expert in nuclear waste to be kind of a nerd. But say what you will about the deputy assistant secretary, Brinton is not a nerd.

Often photographed in various ensembles featuring short skirts, bright-red lipstick and a shaved head, sometimes accompanied by a mustache, Brinton identifies as “nonbinary,” with the pronouns they/them.

Sam Brinton served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Well, sometimes physics nerds are a bit eccentric. Richard Feynman, after all, was known to play the bongos at parties. But Brinton’s eccentricities go beyond fashionable gender bending. Brinton seems to have a problem with stealing luggage.

Brinton was charged last month with felony theft after stealing a woman’s Vera Bradley suitcase from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, after which the Energy Department put Brinton on leave.

Brinton claimed this was a simple mistake. But then it happened again, with a felony arrest warrant issued against Brinton for stealing a woman’s suitcase at the Las Vegas airport. Brinton looks quite aware of what they were doing in surveillance video in support of the arrest. That finally got them fired.

There was some fun to be had with this, and people had it. One wag on Twitter explained Brinton’s wild outfits by commenting: “Sam Brinton’s style makes way more sense when you realize he’s just wearing whatever he finds in other people’s luggage.”

Brinton identifies as “nonbinary,” with the pronouns they/them.
Department of Energy
They were charged last month with felony theft after stealing a suitcase from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.
Getty Images/ JC Olivera

But it’s crazy for a top Energy Department official with all sorts of top security clearances to be stealing random women’s luggage from various airports. It’s behavior that’s downright disturbed. Sure, former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was rumored to enjoy wearing women’s clothing in private, but at least as far as we know he wasn’t boosting it from luggage carousels across the nation.

Speaking of luggage, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has decided he’s too good for regular airports. Watchdog group Americans for Public Trust found he’s already traveled by federal-government private jet 18 times. Compare Trump officials: Mayor Pete’s predecessor, Elaine Chao, got criticism for a mere seven flights, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price had to resign after an outcry (and threatened congressional investigation) over his 26 such trips. But there’s been barely a peep about Buttigieg flying high at taxpayer expense, even as he lectures the rest of us about our carbon footprints. Crazy!

Then there’s Veep Kamala Harris, who famously can barely form a coherent sentence. No one thinks she’s ready to be president, but she’s a heartbeat away from replacing our geriatric chief executive. One of her latest gaffes? She said America has a “strong and enduring” alliance with “the Republic of North Korea” — while she was in South Korea.

And climate envoy John Kerry, fresh from an infamous “unplanned” public handshake with Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, has been lecturing the United Kingdom about a new mine being opened to produce metallurgical coal needed to make steel. Presumably Kerry thinks that steel purchased from China is somehow carbon-free. But it’s insane to be criticizing a crucial ally on its carbon footprint even as it suffers a freezing cold winter due to shortages of gas and oil because of sanctions on Russia.

joe biden
Many people though Biden’s administration would bring back some normalcy.

Biden himself is, of course, notoriously out of touch with reality, constantly making statements his staff have to walk back, often unsuccessfully. Remember when he green-lighted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, as long as it was just part of the country?

And there’s the outright hysterical reaction from our political establishment, both within and without government, to Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. It treats the purchase of a second-tier social-media company as a threat to democracy tantamount to the rise of Hitler.

Whatever else you want to say about our political establishment, it’s not sober and sensible — it’s anything but. Our ruling class is an ideological monoculture, credentialed in the same schools, imbibing the same attitudes and catchphrases and concerned more than anything else with remaining in good standing with its peers.

This makes it an ideal environment for mass hysteria, crazed fashions and disconnections from reality. Worse yet, these people don’t really know much. They’re credentialed, but they’re not actually very well educated.

Want a return to sober, sensible government? You’ll have to look elsewhere.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the blog.

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