When the president-elect nominated Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education last week, the most obvious metaphor seemed to be the fox put in charge of the hen-house. I rolled that around in my head for awhile but couldn’t make it work. I don’t think DeVos is that carnivorous or the education establishment that docile. (Plus drawing anthropomorphic characters is not really my strong suit. So, as is often the case, laziness wins.)
This cartoon worked much better because it reveals my main issue with the DeVos nomination: She’s a crank. A crank (for lack of a better term, let me know if there is one) is a person caught up in her own thoughts, plans, and ideology — dogmatically indifferent to the consequences. It’s been my experience that nearly every organization has one — work group, school board, sports team, professional society, whatever.
And for the most part, it’s good to have a crank. They provide a vital service: They keep everybody else honest. Nobody wants to set the crank off, so we tend to plan more carefully. For example, say you’re the chair of a church committee to raise funds for a mission trip. There is consensus for a pancake breakfast, but there is a crank on the finance team who believes with all her heart that using food for fundraising is a grave sin. If indeed you want to move forward, you will make sure to organize a solid and defensible plan. (Or you may decide to go with a bikini car wash instead, which oddly she has no problem with.)
But the last thing you want is for the crank to be in charge. Cranks by their nature are “my way or the highway” types and likely with a chip on the shoulder from having been handled and circumvented so much in the past. (Think Dwight Schrute from the TV series “The Office.”)
Of course, I’m prejudging here. Ms. DeVos may turn out to be the second coming of Eleanor Roosevelt — a determined woman from the privileged class who used her position to serve the poor and disenfranchised. But if I had to bet, I’d put my money on Dwight Schrute.