Of all the political casualties of 2016, only his erstwhile boss David Cameron fell further faster than Gove. Yet there was a moment when it seemed Gove might become Cameron’s successor. And the former (awful) education secretary and (unexpectedly decent) justice secretary will be remembered for the quote which summed up the last extraordinary year better than any other.
“I think,” he said, “people in this country have had enough of experts.”
So that’s it, then. As a nation we no longer listen to people who seem to know what they’re talking about.
Never mind facts, reason, science, sensible argument and evidence-based conclusions. Let’s take our lead from whoever shouts their uninformed opinion the loudest.
It’s the zeitgeist. And not just in this country, either. How else can you possibly make sense of the man who in nine days’ time will be sworn in as president of what is still, for now, the most powerful country in the world?
You may have seen the New Yorker cartoon in which an airline passenger stands up and says: “These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?” And in nearly every seat a hand is raised.
On one level it’s a brilliant piece of satire. Though Donald Trump is neither depicted nor mentioned, you know it’s about him. Just as you’d have known, if it had appeared in a British paper, that it was about Brexit. But it’s too close to the mark to be very funny.
I don’t know whether Vladimir Putin really took to underhand methods to influence the outcome of the US election. But I’m sure he’s enjoying the chaos that has ensued.
I don’t have a great deal of faith in the intelligence of the CIA, whichever meaning you give to that word. But I don’t put much faith, either, in Trump’s assertive denial that Russian involvement had nothing to do with his victory. He would say that, wouldn’t he?
Whatever else it’s done, the most surreal election result in American history has had one desirable effect.
Never again – surely – can Uncle Sam even pretend to lecture the rest of the world about democracy.
I thought that after the “hanging chads” scandal of George W Bush’s win in 2001. This time there can be no moral, political or intellectual high ground left for America to claim.
And not just because of the bankruptcy of a system that hands victory to a candidate who got three million fewer votes than his opponent. With or without Russian help – and certainly with the huge assistance of FBI director James Comey, whose smearing of Hillary Clinton was timed for maximum effect. (Given the recent CIA claims, one has to wonder how much the whole mess of US politics today owes to the age-old rivalry between the bureau and the agency.)
Weirdly, given all we know about him, Trump talks a lot about morals and ethics. About “draining the swamp”. He was even given credit last week for getting the Republican Congress to backtrack on a plan to scrap the Office of Congressional Ethics, the office meant to keep an eye on them, to keep them at least vaguely honest.
One of my friends described his intervention as “some good news at last”. I’m not so sure it was as good as all that.
Yes, in this instance, a bad step was avoided. But it also revealed the power Trump can wield with one tweet over the one organisation that in theory ought to be able to keep him in check.
With Trump on the flight deck, we’re in for a bumpy ride indeed. Whether or not his attention is all on his smartphone. While he’s tapping in his 140 characters about The Apprentice or Saturday Night Live, the real danger will come from the gimcrack crew he’s appointed to actually fly the plane.
A bunch of blokes (all but two are blokes) whose chief qualification for anything is having loads of money. Who have a lot of experience of boardroom business but precious little in the departments they will now have to run.
And whose lack of real-world expertise is most dangerously encapsulated in the number of climate-change deniers and religious fundamentalists in their midst.
Whichever way you look at it, they are a frightening bunch of people.
Only one has run a federal agency before – Elaine Chao, labour secretary under GW Bush and now to be transport secretary under Trump. She is reckoned to be worth $24million (not counting the $22.8m fortune of her husband Mitch McConnell, the Republicans’ leader in the Senate), which makes her the seventh richest member of the team.
The third richest is former ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson, whose chief qualification for the role of Secretary of State is the Order of Friendship he got in 2013 from... Vladimir Putin.
Experts, eh? Who needs ’em?