Month: December 2016

Calling the balls and strikes on Trump’s appointments (Part Two)

Republicans have been loudly cheering President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks, and there has certainly been much to cheer about: we have several solid conservatives, some true warriors, and a couple of promising regulation-busters. But before we get carried away by the prospect of having our government run by people other than the likes of John Kerry and Eric Holder, we should be mindful of one of the conservative movement’s most easily overlooked principles: doubt. As was explained in my last column, even though Trump has a couple of homeruns (vice president, attorney general), and a few hits (secretaries of education; commerce, defense, and health and human services), we’ve had talented cabinets before. The last Republican administration was led by accomplished outsiders and experienced governors, but it eventually evolved into a creature of the establishment. Limited government? It grew by an entire department. Free markets? It bailed out reckless banks, poorly-run car companies, and dabbled in Keynesianism. School choice? It allowed Sen. Ted Kennedy to write its education reform bill. The list goes on. So, yes, I have doubts, and they grew after Trump struck out with his treasury and transportation picks. While much of the lineup still looks good, conservatives must keep the pressure on the president-elect’s administration to follow-through. That said, picking up where I left off last week, Trump’s next announcement was the selection of Dr. Ben Carson to be his Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs. I like Dr. Carson, but sometimes he leaves me wondering about…

Calling the balls and strikes on Trump’s appointments (Part One)

One of the conservative movement’s primary concerns about President-elect Donald Trump is that he doesn’t seem to be guided by a clear, definable political philosophy. Some of the things he says are truly conservative, while others seem aligned with big government liberalism. “At this point, who cares?” he once remarked after conservatives questioned his adherence to our principles. Now, at this point, everyone should care, because this is when philosophy becomes policy, and the devil is always in the details. Personnel is policy, as the saying goes, so who Trump appoints to his cabinet is currently our only indicator of how he’ll actually govern. So how’s he doing? Calling the balls and strikes from a conservative standpoint, it’s really a mixed bag. Starting from the earliest to the most recent picks, we must begin with any president’s first presidential decision – his choice for running mate. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is a conservative’s conservative with a stellar reputation within the movement and a rock-solid record. He wasn’t even on many short lists of potential picks because most thought he was too conservative for Trump’s taste. The result: Home run. Next comes Trump’s choice for U.S. Attorney General – our own Sen. Jeff Sessions. My admiration for the man is well documented, but so is his record on law and order. Trump couldn’t have chosen better. Another home run. Trump then nominated Betsy DeVos for education secretary. She’s an advocate for school choice and charter schools, but has also been closely…