Earlier this week President-elect Donald Trump’s most conservative challenger during the primary, Sen. Ted Cruz, praised his former opponent’s cabinet picks, signaling growing approval from the detractors on the right.
“This is a serious cabinet, a cabinet of highly qualified individuals and it is a cabinet of strong conservatives,” Cruz said. “The president elect should be commended for bringing together a team of all stars and I think that bodes really well for the commitment to carry through on the promises we made.”
What a difference a year makes.
During the primary Cruz and others (including yours truly) repeatedly reminded voters of Trump’s lengthy record of supporting liberal candidates and causes – and opposing conservative ones. We justifiably feared Trump was simply using the backlash against illegal immigration as camouflage to conceal the liberal that hid beneath, and worried that his administration would be packed with big government types from both parties.
That hasn’t come to pass, at least not entirely. I’m still a little worried (his economic policies sound very pre-Great Depressionish, and his picks for the transportation and treasury secretaries aren’t good), but this is a nearly solid team of conservatives.
My last two columns called the balls and strikes on the first 11 cabinet nominees (if you’re keeping score: two homeruns, a triple, three doubles, two singles, a foul ball, and two strikes).
Today we’ll pitch to the remaining lineup of big names.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was picked to be our ambassador to the United Nations. She doesn’t have much of a foreign policy record outside of negotiating international economic development deals for her state, but she rose to power on the Tea Party electoral wave and promised that if Republicans took the White House, we “would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.” The fact that her parents are from India shouldn’t be relevant – ideas matter, not skin color. She talks the talk, but she’ll need to walk the walk at the UN. Double.
Wrestling executive Vince McMahon’s wife, Linda, was chosen to run the Small Business Administration. She’s a total liberal on social issues and her true belief about the size and scope of government remains to be tested, but her view of lowering taxes and decreasing regulation is exactly what’s needed for small businesses to succeed. Single.
Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, will lead the Ministry of Overregulation, also known as the Environmental Protection Agency. This is an outstanding choice. Pruitt has spent the past few years dragging the EPA into court trying to overturn many of its job-killing, often unconstitutional regulations. This would have been a homerun, but Trump’s recent comments about how “nobody knows” if global warming is real, and that he has “an open mind” about climate change keeps Pruitt stuck at third.
Rex Tillerson would be the Secretary of State, if confirmed. He’s certainly been an outstanding advocate and international negotiator for ExxonMobil, but he’ll need to explain how that translates to opposing many of his former business partners. He is an Eagle Scout, and under his tenure chairing the Boys Scouts of America the group made the regrettable decision to allow homosexual leaders. That’s nothing to do with foreign policy, but liberal beliefs tend to run in packs. On the plus side, during an interview in the Boy Scout’s magazine Tillerson listed “Atlas Shrugged” as his favorite book of all time. Will we soon hear “Who is John Galt?” being asked by our diplomats in Foggy Bottom? Let’s hope so. Triple.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry infamously said “oops” when he forgot to name the Department of Energy as the third government agency that he’d abolish if elected president. Now he’ll be running it, and I cannot think of anyone more experienced with deregulation, energy, and job growth than Perry. A walk off homerun.
Overall, Cruz is right. Trump’s cabinet is mostly comprised of conservative all stars, with only a few competent but philosophically questionable recruits.
They have the support of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. They have control of both chambers of Congress. They have the power of the Executive Branch.
And they have no excuse.