Trump's right-wing dream team
From Puzder to Sessions, is there a single person Trump has named to his Cabinet that conservatives would object to?
When Donald Trump entered the presidential race in June of 2015 and immediately grabbed everyone's attention, Republicans everywhere were terrified and upset. Here was this ridiculous buffoon without a day of political experience, this bigoted demagogue, this ignorant bully, and he was leading the polls!
So they stood up against him — sort of, anyway. Some endorsed other candidates, a few actually condemned Trump, but most expressed their concerns carefully and rationally. Many distanced themselves from his more incendiary comments, which they'd continue to do as he kept saying awful things throughout the campaign. But the most common objection, particularly in those early days, was that Trump wasn't a reliable conservative. He had been a Democrat in the past, he had shifted his position on core issues like guns and abortion, and he just couldn't be counted on to further the conservative agenda.
Well, they're not unhappy anymore. Trump has turned out to be an even more despicable human being than anyone understood, and he is preparing for a kind of self-enrichment we normally associate with post-Soviet kleptocracies. Yet with just an exception here or there, Republicans are firmly behind him. And they're going to get almost everything they want.
True, there were a few who questioned the way Trump put pressure on Carrier to keep a few hundred jobs in Indiana, arguing that the market should be left to do its magic without interference from the government. But consider: Is there a single person Trump has named to his Cabinet or other high-ranking positions that conservatives would object to?
Not at all. In fact, the Trump administration is shaping up to be a right-winger's dream, particularly if you think the levers of power should be wielded by those who use the word "summer" as a verb. On Friday, for example, Trump named Gary Cohn, the president of the supposedly hated Goldman Sachs, to be the head of the National Economic Council. He'll join Goldman alum Steve Mnuchin, who will be secretary of the treasury. Take that, establishment!
And it isn't just those overseeing our nation's economy who come from the upper crust. There's Andrew Puzder, the fast-food CEO (and fervent opponent of minimum wage increases, overtime pay, and anything else that smacks of worker's rights) for labor secretary. Billionaire Linda McMahon, former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, who has given millions to Trump's "foundation," will lead the Small Business Administration. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross will be commerce secretary. Billionaire voucher advocate Betsy DeVos will head the Department of Education.
Can't you just smell the populist rebellion? But it's not like Trump is shy about his team of plutocrats; as he told a crowd last week, "One newspaper criticized me: 'Why can't they have people of modest means?' Because I want people that made a fortune!" And those who aren't themselves billionaires (or nearly so) are hard-right activists, often devoted to the subversion of the departments they're being asked to lead. DeVos is committed to the destruction of public schools. Puzder obviously thinks workers should have few if any rights. Tom Price, who will be secretary of health and human services, wants to slash, hamstring, or eliminate government-provided health care in all its forms. Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, distinguished himself as Oklahoma attorney general by being a climate denier and venomous foe of the EPA. Jeff Sessions, the next attorney general, has spent a career fighting civil rights. Trump has a few Cabinet positions left to fill, but it's highly unlikely that even the most committed conservative would find anything to object to in his selections.
There is one area — foreign policy — where there is a community of conservatives who remain unsettled by Trump, particularly given his terrifying combination of ignorance and impulsiveness, which is likely to be fed by his choice of Michael Flynn, a confirmed loon, to be his national security adviser. But that doesn't have anything to do with ideology.
The conservatives who do care about ideology, and who were so worried about Trump's bona fides, are breathing an enormous sigh of relief. They're going to get their enormous tax cuts for the rich, and their slashing of corporate regulations, and their unshackling of Wall Street, and their assault on the safety net, and their attack on abortion rights, and their climate denialism, and their voter suppression, and much more. As they've made quite clear, they can live with the corrupt Trump, the demagogue Trump, the erratic Trump, because they're going to get everything they've been waiting for. Turns out they never had anything to worry about after all.