There is no doubt in my mind what is the news story of the year – the election of Donald J Trump as the next US President. Despite his taking over office being still one month away, the prospect looms in the minds of many and already he is making an impact and many feel that when he takes on the reigns it will be anything but business as usual, even if he does backtrack on some things he said he will do. Attitudes to the new President range from regarding him as the AntiChrist or a bad dream to that of the Messiah or America’s hope for greatness, with much else in-between. As far as this blogger is concerned, there has been much to blog on following his election:
But it is the subject addressed in the last posting in the list, that of his appointments to office, that I wish to return to. When I posted earlier, he had only begun but now most of his major appointments are known, and barring a surprise or some of the more controversial selections not being ratified by the US Senate, they will take office soon after Trump does. Perhaps the one outstanding big announcement we are waiting to hear is his choice of Supreme Court justice to replace Judge Scalia. This is significant and it was the prospect of the replacement being a conservative and following closely the US Constitution as opposed to being liberal and not doing so, that attracted a good deal of support by people of my ilk.
I had set myself the task of researching each of Trumps major appointees before blogging on the subject. While I know a good deal more now compared to when I started the process, I am conscious of my ignorance on this matter so will refrain from commenting in depth. However, there are a number of pertinent general points I would like to make, so that will be my focus. There is a lot on the Internet on the matter, including once again UK’s own Guardian coming up trumps (excuse the pun) and being a helpful aide-memoire. In my earlier blog, I reflected the gift the President is able to bestow in making these appointments is a significant demonstration of the power of the presidential office, for whoever is appointed has the potential to do either much good or much harm.
As each appointment was made, I noted the reactions. Given on balance most of what I read emanates from Trump detractors, I well understand why people are concerned. Where to start? His Chief Strategist is seen as a White Supremacist; his Chief of Staff is in cohorts with the establishment as you can get; his Treasury Secretary is part of the swamp he has vowed to drain; his Secretary of State has made his fortune in oil and has cosied up to the Russians; his Attorney General is a racist; his Environment Secretary is a climate change denier; his Energy Secretary is not committed to using new forms of energy; his Urban Development Secretary, a token black, knows little about the subject; his Defence Secretary is a hawk; his National Security advisor is anti Muslim; his Education secretary is anti public schools; his Ambassador to Israel has backed Palestinian oppression. So some will say; and I can go on – but let that suffice for now – there will no doubt be major developments! One thing I found interesting is that unlike in the UK system, most of Trumps appointees are not career politicians, but rather they come from the world of the military and business etc.
Yet despite all that, I find his top team pick to be on the whole reassuring, especially when compared to eight years ago with Obama’s pick of the sort of the liberal progressives I find naturally annoying (e.g. few if any had signed up to the principles of the Manhattan Declaration). How I felt then could well be similar to how anti Trump folk feel now, so I do empathize. For that reason, I hope Trump will deliver on his promise to be the President for all the people. Given Obama’s liberal leanings, his choices were no more a surprise then than Trump’s non-liberal choices are now. While I try not to bring religion into deciding who I support (and have in the past voted for atheists as opposed to Christians) I find it refreshing that Trump has appointed several Christians or those who subscribe to my own Christian world view, starting with his Vice President, Mike Pence. In the main, Trump has selected people who he believes are (and in the main, albeit with certain qualms, I do not strongly disagree) the best available to do the job. I suspect there has been inevitable pay back in making his choice including a degree of cronyism, as well as keeping as many people happy as he can, in order to secure support in the future.
I like his approach in making his choices, even if looking at some of their records there is a degree of skepticism. If I were President, I would recognize my limitations and therefore see it as a priority to be surrounded by those best placed to help, who are broadly singing from the same hymn sheet as me even if there is some disagreement concerning detail. I would also try to leave them alone to do the job they have been given and be able to choose their own teams, providing they are accountable. Up to now most of what we have to go by in accessing Mr. Trump are his words which many have found offensive and even I concede are partly regrettable, yet there is much he has said I agree with. I sense the bar room brawler mentality has now been replaced by one that is more presidential. In past posts I have given my reasons – but then action speaks louder than words and we wait with baited breath to see what those actions are.
What is clear to me is that being President is one helluva job and Mr. Trump needs all the help he can get. While we expect the President to lead, we live, as I have recently argued, in a Runaway World, which he needs to react to. While there is a lot as it stands I am not on board with and maybe never will, he merits my prayers for extraordinary wisdom, as does his Cabinet. Rest assured though, I will be watching and will speak out as and when the situation warrants me doing so. On balance, I feel Mr. Trump has started well.