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 the depth and strength of his understanding and commitment to our cause. For instance, when asked during the campaign about education policy, Dr. Carson said he favors laws forbidding colleges from receiving federal dollars if they hold a political bias. “Sounds good,” you might say.
But who runs the education bureaucracy? Liberals. And what political bias do you think they’d target? Conservatism. So we’d lose what little ground we currently hold, and that’s where such thinking gets you. We need to weaken the government’s power, not strengthen it.
So now Dr. Carson is running one of the most leftist departments in the government, and judging by the way he ran his campaign (it was a dumpster fire of mismanagement), we shouldn’t hope for much reform. Foul ball.
Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly was Trump’s next cabinet announcement. He’ll run the byzantine Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for everything from protecting the president to securing our borders. And it’s that last bit that concerns me. There’s no doubt that Kelly is capable of running the department – he ran a unified combatant command that’s heavily involved with other federal agencies, including Homeland Security, and he has a stellar reputation – but what does he think about illegal immigration?
Sealing our southern border and deporting at least some of those who crossed it illegally is a top priority for our nation. We’ll lose our country and our culture if we don’t. Building that wall and doing something about illegal aliens is going to be the nastiest, toughest, longest political fight in recent memory, and we need a true believer at the helm. Otherwise he’ll get steamrolled.
But what does General Kelly believe about the border and those who crossed it illegally, and how deeply does he hold those beliefs? We really don’t know … and that’s cause for concern, but his experience and reputation get him to second. Let’s hope someone bats him in quickly.
Trump’s chief of staff is going to be the current chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. This was a hard one to call.
On the one hand, Priebus was the partner to Sen. Mitch McConnell and then-Speaker John Boehner in their repeated capitulations to President Barrack Obama on healthcare, the courts, immigration, spending, you name it. You can’t get more establishment than Priebus.
On the other hand, he was chairman at a time when the Republican Party has become more powerful than ever. He may not have a pretty record, but as they say in Moneyball, he gets on base. Single.
It’s been a slow inning thus far, sports fans, but tune in next week. I think we’ll see a few power hitters.