Trump’s Cabinet of Peers

When Trump first started naming his cabinet picks, there was a lot of noise from both sides complaining about some of his choices. The liberal mainstream media, who clearly don’t like Trump, were obviously trying to cause dissension in the ranks of Trump supporters by declaring certain of his nominees a betrayal of his campaign promises and his base (Puzder, Mnuchin, Priebus). This was transparently disingenuous. Do they really expect me to believe that they wouldn’t be perfectly happy for Trump to betray his base? Simultaneously, and contradictorily, they attempted to outrage Trump’s enemies by declaring others of his picks as outside the pale (Bannon, Tillerson) and confirmation of their worst fears about Trump. So which was I supposed to believe, that Trump is actually a phony and a tool of the Establishment or that he is a rogue actor who is appointing fellow rogues in an all-out effort to subvert all that is good and true? It really can’t be both.

At the same time some Trump supporters and conservative Trump critics were quick to voice their displeasure at some of Trump’s picks, especially Labor Secretary select Andrew Puzder who has supported liberal immigration policies in the past, Treasury Secretary select Steven Mnuchin who was formerly in the employ of the hated Goldman Sachs and Chief of Staff select Reince Priebus of the distrusted RNC. While I wasn’t pleased with the selection of Puzder and Munchin and, as a non-interventionist, was certainly not crazy about some of his defense and foreign policy related picks and potential picks (especially John Bolton and Mitt Romney), I counseled my fellow Trump supporters to hold their fire a bit because I believed that some Trump supporters were taking the bait of the liberal media who were deliberately trying to sow discord.

The potentially mixed message sent by the totality of Trump’s picks reinforces a point I have made before. I genuinely believe that Trump’s economic nationalist message is sincere and deeply felt because it has been part of his public proclamations since the 80’s, but Trump is not an ideologue. He is not a man particularly concerned with political process.  He is concerned with results. The totality of Trump’s nominees so far suggest that he is selecting for competence and people he views as peers not just outsiders who might be more congruent with his campaign theme. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if all the particular sensibilities of different subsets of both his supporters and critics on the right are lost on Trump who is not a man who has historically immersed himself in the American conservative milieu like most national Republican politicians have. I don’t think these sensibilities are lost on Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller or others who have Trump’s ear, however, which is reassuring.

Soon after Trump announced, I compared him to Ross Perot who claimed he wanted to run America more like a business. While this sentiment alarms libertarians and free-market and process oriented conservatives, it’s actually a sentiment that plays well with a lot of less ideological voters who just want someone to get things done. This "run the country like a business" theme seemed to become less prominent as the campaign progressed and the left tried to turn it into exclusively a campaign against wrongthink, but I think it is reflected in Trump’s nominees so far.

While I’m not happy with all the nominees, when taken as a whole I am not discouraged. Trump appears to have selected a cabinet that is high on competence and low on flunkiness (is that a word?) with an eye more toward getting things accomplished and less toward sending a message and jousting at windmills. In fact, if anything I worry that the cabinet may have too much alpha. Trump, a few generals and a couple of CEOs all sitting around a table is going to be a lot of testosterone.

The direction Trump has taken with his nominees should really not surprise us. He has always been more of a businessman, regardless of what some may think of his business prowess, than a messenger, and more focused on outcome than the niceties of process. Trump has assembled an impressive (ideology aside) cabinet of relative peers, and I’m bye and large willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and a chance to succeed before I start voicing a lot of dissent. Given how Trump has outperformed expectation the whole way, I think we owe him this much. I hope my fellow Trump supporters will do the same. We can hold Trump’s feet to the fire without playing into the culture of discontent that our enemies in the liberal media would like us to fall into.

Dan "Red" Phillips

Dan "Red" Phillips

6 Responses

  1. Dot says:

    “He has always been more of a businessman, regardless of what some may think if his business prowess,…….”.

    According to the January 19th edition of the Ellsworth American (Maine), the current national debt rose to “$20.0 trillion dollars, an increase of $1.1 trillion from last year’s $18.9 trillion.

    At some point, is a debt that large healthy to the economy? President Trump may have a rocky ride due to this debt. I think it is all tied to the business relations (export/import) we have with other countries, especially China and Japan.
    These countries buy a lot of Treasury bonds that we issue because of the massive amount of goods they export to the US. They buy the treasury bonds in a sense to recycle the dollars they earn from selling their products to the US.
    If China or Japan should cut back on buying so many Treasury bonds we could see high inflation, but it would also negatively impact China and Japan because the value of their dollar would increase and we would buy less from them.
    The democrats are still reeling because Hillary lost. But we need President Donald Trump to steer the US through the rocky road we may experience in the years ahead.

  2. Dot says:

    President Trump needs highly competent people for his cabinet. I like that Keystone Pipeline is to be built despite the objections of many people who think it won’t be good for the environment. There are studies that state that the pipeline will not break and crude will not leak into the soil.

    That the pipeline will bring many jobs is true – to a point. Initially, there will be many jobs due to the number of construction workers required to build it, but once built, the number of jobs will decline.

    However, even though the number of jobs will decline after it is built, there probably will be other developments along the vicinity of the pipeline that will benefit the whole area down to Texas and the Gulf coast.

    I think China has interest in this pipeline. China is building or has built the “island” in the South China sea. It is said to be a military base. I think that is half true. The island will position China to be closer to the western ports of Canada, the US and the Panama Canal.

    China needs oil because their land almost devoid of oil. China will have easier access to the oil they need. I believe at present they have drilling rights in the Gulf. See

  3. Dan Phillips says:

    A country can obviously not continue to rack up debt indefinitely, but the problem with the debt is that it’s not really a fixable problem IMO. There is neither the political nor public will to fix it. People agree with cutting spending in the aggregate, but they don’t want to cut any programs in particular and often endorse more spending on specific areas. Budget hawkishness is not a political winner except with a small subset of ideologues. A lot of spending is built in and there are some Republicans who would like to reform entitlements, but this is politically toxic. The Dems are salivating waiting for the sap Republicans to do something drastic with entitlements and squander away one of their most reliable constituencies. The other problem is that debt is cooked into the system because of our debt based monetary system. The system requires debt, public or private, for new money to enter the economy. Without debt, as things currently stand, the economy would tank. Much of our government is essentially a big make work program. I have come to accept that the whole thing is one big house of cards that is going to inevitably implode after which we will have to pick up the pieces. Ultimately the debt will either be defaulted on or repudiated. My inclination is to just ride it out and do the best we can and not be the one to fall on my political sword with entitlements or budget slashing trying to fix something that isn’t fixable.

  4. Dot says:

    Mr. Phillips,
    Thank you for your reply. We have become too over-bloated on the Federal level and “America First” will be a hard sell considering all those who want a piece of the pie, whether countries or the various groups that make up our country.

    Already the Mexico president has cancelled a trip to Washington because of the wall President Trump wants built. I think Mexico has done quite well by us. It will be interesting to see how many other countries will follow suit and how many “friends” we have.

  5. Robert Reavis says:

    ‘but Trump is not an ideologue. He is not a man particularly concerned with political process. He is concerned with results. ”

    Thank you for the post, Mr. Phillips. I hope you are correct in the above statement. It is truly a popular and American, pragmatic ideal to fix things. Sergeant Friday’s famous, ” just the facts” or Leonard Nimoy’s rendition of Dr. Spock in the popular Star Trek series are two notorious examples from my childhood. It is the preferred pose of our current intellectuals and problem solvers. Even if it is only a half truth, (it is) it will be far better than the whole anarchy that was fast approaching before Mr. Trump’s election.

  6. Kurt Kronfuss says:

    To me government getting things done means, more government. I would like to see him lead Congress into getting things “undone.”