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Transition to Trump: Should conservatives just trust Trump on his cabinet choices?

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of trust.

It’s safe to say Donald Trump hit a home run with conservatives upon naming Senator Jeff Sessions to be his administration’s Attorney General and Stephen Bannon for his senior advisor and co-right-hand-man along with chief of staff designee Reince Priebus.

Trump familyFrom what I can gather, most conservatives were willing to tolerate Priebus as long as the anti- Washington establishment Bannon was there to balance his presence with Trump in the White House. Fair enough.

Then there was relatively positive feedback for Trump’s naming of teacher’s union busting school choice advocate Betsy DeVos to lead the Department of Education. Some conservatives weren’t overly enthused about Trump’s selection of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for U.N. Ambassador because of her tepid support for the Republican ticket during the campaign, but no one loudly objected.

And all the rumors circulating around Mitt Romney and the Secretary of State’s post…well, let’s just say we’ll wait until someone is named before the universe explodes on that one.

But Trump’s latest picks for the Secretaries of Commerce and Treasury are leaving many conservatives aghast. On Wednesday, Trump’s team announced they’d decided on Wilbur Ross for the Commerce job and Steven Mnuchin to lead the Treasury department.

In reaction, Erick Erickson wrote at The Resurgent, “Wilbur Ross is a Democrat. He worked with Bill Clinton. He has funded Democrats. He has been on the New York Democratic Committee. He is a Democrat filled with Democrat ideas. And Trump wants him to be Secretary of Commerce.

“Steven Mnuchin is a George Soros loving leftist who forced poor people into foreclosures that were unnecessary. He is as insider as you can get on Wall Street.”

Not quite content to stop there, Erickson continued, “As much as Tom Price is a friend and good man, he has also been in Congress since 2002 and Elaine Chao, as much as she is a nightmare to union activists, is Mitch McConnell’s wife and a career cabinet member.”

Price and Chao were named to Trump’s cabinet on Tuesday. Erickson’s reaction was typical of what I read about them, though there were a number of principled conservatives (such as FRC’s Tony Perkins) who praised Price especially.

Erickson’s basic beef is that with Trump’s latest moves, the “swamp” isn’t being drained, which is by implication a slap at the president-elect himself since it appears as though Trump’s breaking his campaign promise to completely scrub and sanitize the bilges of Washington. All throughout his presidential run Trump swore that Washington was going to be a changed place if he were elected…and at least by appearance, it doesn’t seem to be happening.

Erickson makes a reasonable point, though as one of the leading and enduring members of #NeverTrump it’s hard to tell if he’s actually offering constructive criticism or whether he’s just trying to add emphasis to yet another claim of “See, I told you Trump would be awful!”

I think in the case of Trump’s cabinet, some perspective is in order. First, by naming people he views as the best person for each job, Trump is in essence keeping a campaign promise rather than breaking one.

Many times during debates Trump talked about bringing people into government who know business and can sit across the table from world leaders and not be taken advantage of. If, in fact, Ross and Mnuchin truly are “swamp creatures”, at least they’ll know as much about the environment of the “bog” as the people they’re conversing with.

That’s not true when it comes to most politicians who’ve spent their entire careers swimming next to lobbyists in the malodorous oozing quagmire that is Washington.

Next, though on the surface men like Ross and Mnuchin would appear to be the same types of “swamp creatures” that Trump swore he would cast out of his administration, they both come from successful professional backgrounds.

According to Wikipedia, “Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr. (born November 28, 1937) is an American investor, and former banker, known for restructuring failed companies in industries such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment and textiles. He specializes in leveraged buyouts and distressed businesses. As of August 2014, Forbes magazine lists Ross as one of the world's billionaires with a net worth of $2.9 billion.”

Also according to Wikipedia, “Steven Terner Mnuchin (born December 21, 1962) is an American banker, film producer, and political fundraiser. He is a former partner for Goldman Sachs for 17 years where he accrued a net worth estimated at about $40 million. He then founded the motion picture firm, RatPac-Dune Entertainment.”

He also served as finance chair for Trump’s campaign.

Mnuchin and Ross have never been officeholders, just like Trump. Many of the criticisms being leveled at them are nearly identical to #NeverTrump’s contentions against Trump himself during the campaign. True, Trump claimed for years to be a Democrat and we all know he championed just about every Democrat cause under the sun for much of his life.

Trump’s public lifestyle was also much more conducive to the “anything goes” mentality of the Democrats. Why do you think he fit in so well for so long with the New York and Hollywood elite?

In fairness to Ross at least, he seems to have made a late in life conversion to the GOP having supported Mitt Romney in 2012 and then Trump from early on in this cycle.

Like most Americans probably feel, it’s hard to form an opinion on the appointments of Ross and Mnuchin because they’re not well-known figures outside of the elite financial circles of the country. The fact that they appear to be “swamp creatures” is alarming, but at some point we have to accept Trump is going to bring onboard the people he trusts most to “Make America Great Again.”

And the odds are Trump will get what he wants from the Senate in terms of confirmations, too.

Anna Giaritelli of the Washington Examiner reports, “Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., said on Tuesday evening he expects the Republican-led Senate to approve President-elect Trump's Cabinet appointments, thanks to the low grade ‘nuclear option’ Senate Democrats enabled three years ago when they controlled the upper chamber.

“’If you look at the nominations, they changed the rules. And now by 51 votes we can get anybody confirmed except for the Supreme Court and so that's why I fully anticipate that by and large, unless it's someone - something troubling comes out, you're going to see the president-elect get his nominees,’ the recently reelected senator told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening.”

In essence, there’s not much anyone from either side of the ideological spectrum can do to stop these appointments. Unless there’s widespread Republican opposition (and by widespread, I’m guessing more than four or five GOP senators), on virtually any nomination, Trump will get his way.

The prospect brings with it some apprehension, but at some point we have to allow Trump leeway to make the choices. We elected him to do just that.

Teflon Rom meets with Trump on Tuesday night, still no word on Secretary of State

Speaking of trust – or lack thereof – Mitt Romney emerged from his meeting with Donald Trump on Tuesday beaming from ear to ear and talking up his conversation with the president-elect.

Anna Giaritelli of the Washington Examiner reports, “Mitt Romney, one of President-elect Trump's remaining candidates for secretary of state, called his Tuesday dinner with Trump and incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus ‘engaging’ and ‘enlightening,’ during an informal press conference following the meeting...

“The 2012 Republican presidential nominee praised Trump's professionalism in what may be an attempt by Romney to make up for comments on the campaign trail earlier this year bashing the billionaire businessman as a man whose leadership would trigger ‘trickle-down racism.’”

Therein lies the problem with the whole concept of having Romney serve a prominent role in the Trump administration. It’s not that Romney isn’t a decent man with an impressive life resume and a pleasant public demeanor. If you need a guy to trust with babysitting your kids, Mitt should be at the top of the list.

But should Romney receive the Secretary of State nod – or any cabinet post, really – how is he going to get past all the awful things he said about Trump during the campaign?

I think most people are willing to look beyond the sometimes vicious back-and-forth exchanges between Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio and Trump because they were campaign competitors and lofting bombs is something politicians do to set contrasts during the heat of battle. Let’s face it – most of the time politicians do a remarkable job of keeping their composure under tough circumstances…but sometimes they say things they later regret.

Romney, however, was offering those types of savage barbs about Trump and he wasn’t even in the race. He was resting comfortably behind a microphone somewhere proffering opinions on people who couldn’t strike back in any meaningful way. There’s no accountability there. Romney might as well have been a paid pundit on MSNBC for the things he was saying.

Perhaps Mitt was stung by Trump’s claim that he didn’t try hard enough to win in 2012, or maybe Romney was just trying to salvage his own political legacy, but by all-but saying Trump is a racist and a misogynist – those things are hard to take back.

Should Romney end up in the Trump administration, those questions would dog him the entire time in office.

For what it’s worth, there are those who believe Romney looked uncomfortable during his meeting with Trump. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the video of Romney’s post-meeting remarks betray a confident – and hopeful – man.

Like with his other cabinet selections, until he proves otherwise, Trump deserves the benefit of the doubt. In meeting with Romney and other potential appointees, Trump is merely doing what we asked him to do – thoroughly vet his candidates. The coming days and weeks will reveal what he’s discovered.

Trump’s “Thank You” tour draws comparisons to…Obama

Away from his transition offices Donald Trump is planning something a little non-traditional for presidents in waiting. He’s about to embark on a “tour” of states he won, speaking in large venues to thank supporters for electing him.

In doing so, some observers are accusing him of waging a “permanent campaign” like Obama did after he won in 2008.

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner wrote, “Some Republican insiders, however, are worried that Trump is inviting the same fate (as Obama) by acting politically so soon. Embarking on what is essentially a campaign swing, in states where Trump won, could make it difficult for Trump to unify the country and encourage Democrats in Congress to work with him.

“That's especially the case, concerned Republicans say, given the partisan and occasionally controversial nature of Trump's rallies, both in terms of his rhetoric and audience behavior.”

If by “audience behavior” Drucker means violence, we all know (thanks to James O’Keefe of Project Veritas) that the incidents in several places were provoked by paid leftists intent on causing trouble.

If “behavior” includes the chants of “lock her up!” that usually accompanied Trump’s prolonged restatements of Hillary Clinton’s crimes, it should be easy enough to control going forward. Now that Clinton has been vanquished and is only making headlines these days by joining in with fruitless recount missions, there’s no real need for Trump to talk about her anymore.

“Crooked Hillary” is old news. Been there, done that.

Instead, Trump can and should tailor his remarks toward the future, highlighting the people he’s now putting in place to implement the policies that he promoted during his year and a half long campaign. Trump can demonstrate how he’s going to get rid of Obamacare and sanctuary cities. He can talk about the tax cut measures he’ll push. And he can explain his thoughts on foreign policy under a Trump administration.

Most importantly, Trump can encourage supporters to stay informed and engaged.

If done properly Trump can keep people enthused for the tough work to come. He’ll need some support from Democrats but he otherwise has enough Republicans to pass the major initiatives.

Far from the “permanent campaign,” Trump is merely keeping his populist army mobilized and peaceful.

Then, unlike with Obama, there will be real hope and change.

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