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Transition to Trump: Good news, Trump’s economic team shows heavy private-sector bias

There have been many references to Mitt Romney being plastic and robotic over the years due to his well-manicured look and impeccably coifed hairdo, but never before to my knowledge has the former Republican presidential candidate been compared to a…pretty woman.

To be fair, former Speaker and current Donald Trump advisor Newt Gingrich didn’t say Romney was a “pretty woman,” only that Mitt’s acting like one of the main characters from the famous Julia Roberts/Richard Gere film Trump economic teamof the same name.

Nolan D. McCaskill of Politico reports, “In an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Gingrich continued his anti-Romney crusade, ripping one of Trump’s top contenders to lead the State Department…

“’There’s a scene in ‘Pretty Women,’ where Richard Gere goes up to the salesman on Rodeo Drive and says, ‘We need a little sucking up here,’’ Gingrich said…

“’You have never, ever in your career seen a serious adult who’s wealthy, independent, has been a presidential nominee, suck up at the rate that Mitt Romney is sucking up,’ Gingrich continued.”

I chuckled when I read this because I’d been thinking something similar when viewing Romney’s post-dinner meeting interview from Tuesday night – though I didn’t think specifically of the movie scene Gingrich referenced at the time.

But Gingrich’s analogy certainly fits. The imagery is remarkable.

Romney’s pre and post-election tone has changed 180 degrees where Trump is concerned, a reversal so astonishing that just about everyone’s head is spinning trying to grasp exactly where Romney truly stands on anything or anyone. For a man notorious for flip-flopping, this change of direction (done within a mere few days of the election) on the president-elect may be Romney’s biggest turnaround to date.

The fact that Gingrich made the comparison between Romney and the 1990’s movie classic to Laura Ingraham on her radio show is made all the more fascinating by the rumors surrounding Ingraham being considered for Trump’s White House Press Secretary. I can’t say for sure how Ingraham feels on the possibility of Romney being named to the Secretary of State post (though she did say during the interview that it was her “sense” that Romney wouldn’t be the one), but if she ends up facing the White House press corps on a daily basis starting next month, she’ll certainly have to field a number of questions on Mitt if he should get the appointment.

In other words, all of this Romney “sucking up” is getting downright awkward. It’s one thing for most of the #NeverTrumpers to come out and admit they were wrong in discounting Trump’s chances to win the election, it’s quite another for them to behave like Romney’s been doing. Simply put, Romney appears to want the job so bad he’s acting like a child in a mall pet store begging his mommy to allow him to rescue the cute little puppy in a cage.

Though Romney’s behavior is a bit nauseating to watch, some are giving Mitt credit for realizing the power of flattery – especially in dealing with a man like Trump.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner writes, “Some of this is clearly intended to explain why Romney would be willing to seek a spot in the Trump administration after savaging (Trump) for most of 2016. He is saying that Trump appears serious about governing within the Republican mainstream and that his (non-Twitter) tone has improved.

“But Romney has obviously learned that flattering Trump is a more effective way of influencing him than criticizing him. He is not the first bitter rival to come to that conclusion.”

Antle goes on to claim Obama and the Clintons have similarly changed their tenor towards Trump, in essence arguing that a little “sucking up” will help the outgoing president save some of his agenda once he’s passed the torch. As for the Clintons, flattering Trump may just keep them out of prison, at least in terms of Trump applying public pressure to prosecute them.

Antle’s is an interesting theory, though I believe Trump is more than clever enough to know when he’s being played. Many political observers thought Ted Cruz was going out of his way to be nice to Trump during the early stages of the Republican primary race, though I think Cruz was merely telling the truth and acknowledging the concerns of Trump’s voters in praising some of Trump’s ideas at the time.

I never saw Cruz’s behavior as “sucking up.”

And lastly on this, there are even those who question Gingrich’s motives in criticizing Romney’s behavior. Paula Bolyard writes in PJ Media, “The truth is, (Gingrich would) like to be in Romney's seat right now, being considered for secretary of state. Instead, it looks increasingly like the former speaker—one of Trump's most enthusiastic sucker uppers—won't be rewarded with a plumb spot in the Trump administration. At least Romney got a nice dinner as a reward for his hour of sucking up. What did Newt get, a hat or something?”

Bolyard takes to task Trump supporters like Gingrich who aren’t treating the #NeverTrumpers with a degree of deference, even in victory. (Bolyard’s story also contains the entire Ingraham/Gingrich interview, highly recommended if you have time.)

It seems obvious that Gingrich doesn’t care for Romney personally. There’s a history there. But Gingrich’s main point about Romney should not be ignored, which is “Where were you and the rest of the #NeverTrumpers when it came time to unite and not only defeat Hillary Clinton but save the republic itself?”

It’s something the #NeverTrump faction is going to have to explain over time and can’t be dealt with simply by “sucking up.” Mitt Romney, take note.

Trump’s economic team is woefully short on government experience – but that’s a good thing

In the above referenced Ingraham/Gingrich interview, in addition to sharing his thoughts on Mitt Romney, the former Speaker talked a little bit about Donald Trump’s nomination of Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross to cabinet-level posts in the Treasury and Commerce departments respectively.

Gingrich praised them both for their real-world know-how and defended claims that the two financial industry giants are just part of the “swamp” Trump promised to drain.

With the latest potential nominees in place, a clear picture of Trump’s economic team is starting to emerge. It sounds like they will be very aggressive on tax reform and promoting American business through regulatory reform and new trade agreements.

Naomi Jagoda and Sylvan Lane of The Hill report, “On tax policy, Mnuchin stressed Wednesday that tax reform will be a top priority for the new administration. He said on CNBC that the administration would enact ‘the largest tax change since Reagan,’ with cuts for businesses and the middle class…

“Ross is a slightly more familiar figure in Washington, having been a former member of the National Association of Manufacturers. That group’s president and CEO, Jay Timmons, praised Ross for having a ‘firsthand understanding of the challenges manufacturers face to remain globally competitive in today’s economy.’”

The Hill reporters also noted that Trump announced on Tuesday that he’d like Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts to serve as deputy Commerce secretary.

The new “team” has quite a bit of finance and manufacturing muscle behind them and in general, establishment leaders of industry praised their nominations. Democrats panned Trump’s proposals, but what would you expect them to say, “Welcome aboard, have a fruit drink”?

As I noted yesterday, there’s a certain danger involved with giving Wall Street “foxes” the keys to the proverbial U.S. economic policy “hen house,” but at some point we just have to trust the new president to choose people who know what they’re doing and can identify and then fix what’s wrong with the current policies.

Mnuchin, Ross and Ricketts have all built businesses and take a decidedly pro-private sector point-of-view to their new positions in Washington. Mnuchin is familiar with all the destructive aspects of the big government Dodd-Frank law, for example, and knows best where reform is demanded.

We wouldn’t be getting that perspective from someone Hillary Clinton would have appointed who no doubt would only seek to increase government control of the economy. Picking winners and losers in business is what the Democrats specialize in. How else do they raise so much campaign money?

There is at least one comfort involved with Trump’s economic picks – since they’re not politicians and aren’t dependent on an elected official for a job, they most likely didn’t receive their appointments by “sucking up” to Trump.

Under this scenario, these men were most likely “asked” if they were willing to serve rather than begging Trump for a political spoil.

In the end, that could prove very important, indeed.

Lastly on cabinet appointments, though not directly related to his economic team, it looks like Trump is considering another Democrat to serve in his cabinet – though this one will probably receive a pass from many of Trump’s constituents.

Darius Dixon of Politico reports, “President-elect Donald Trump's transition team is considering Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for the energy secretary job, according to three sources close to the discussions.

“The conservative Democrat ‘is being considered to show the coal people how serious Trump is about coal,’ one source said.”

It is true, Manchin is probably one of a handful of remaining Democrats who is not considered a die-hard full-spectrum liberal.

Dixon’s article indicates Manchin has not actually been contacted by Trump’s team and has no current plans to meet with Trump to talk about the position. But Manchin also indicated he would consider serving if asked.

Manchin is up for reelection in 2018 and everyone knows West Virginia has become one of the safest red states in the country having almost completely switched “colors” in the past two decades from safe Democrat to safe Republican.

The left’s war on coal has made for a lot of Republican true believers in The Mountain State.

There were even rumors on election night that Manchin would switch parties. Either way, here’s guessing that Trump will receive support one way or another from the seat Manchin now occupies. Sending him to the Energy Department would be only one way of accomplishing it.

Note: President-elect Trump said that retired Marine General James M. Mattis is to be secretary of defense, though the “official” announcement won’t come until Monday.

Searching for a replacement for the late Justice Scalia just became a little easier

One of Donald Trump’s most important campaign promises after the death of Antonin Scalia last February involved his replacing the legendary jurist with another Justice who thinks and votes just like Scalia.

Easier said than done, of course, since there was only one Antonin Scalia and it’s not the simplest thing in the world these days to find someone with the depth of conviction and dedication to original constitutional principles that Scalia possessed.

Luckily for Trump there appears to be help on the horizon in this regard.

Ryan Lovelace of the Washington Examiner reports, “Mercer University law professor Jeremy Kidd along with three other researchers studied the legal reasoning of Trump's shortlist candidates — rather than the outcomes of their judicial opinions — to determine how ‘Scalia-like’ they are. Kidd's analysis probed the candidates' adherence to originalism, citations of Scalia's nonjudicial writing in their opinions, and how often the candidates wrote a dissent or concurrence when not writing the majority opinion. Originalism is a judicial philosophy popularized by Scalia and beloved by his followers.

“The result: Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas Lee, brother of Utah Sen. Mike Lee, came out on top of the study's ‘Scalia-ness’ scale. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge William Pryor and Tenth Circuit judge Neil Gorsuch also received high marks, and Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid scored well too.”

The study organizers admit it isn’t predictive of who will actually be nominated by Trump since there are other factors involved, including political considerations. And not all of those on Trump’s list could be analyzed under the study criteria. Senator Mike Lee, for example, doesn’t have judicial opinions to study, so it’s very difficult if not impossible to determine how “Scalia-like” he would turn out to be on the Supreme Court bench.

If Trump’s appointments thus far are any indication, the president-elect will choose someone with the capabilities and background to please the base and get the job done on the Court. Trump certainly realizes that a major part of his presidential legacy will be his Supreme Court appointees who could easily still be on the Court long after he’s gone.

One thing’s for sure – Trump will do the due diligence it takes to find the right person. Trump the politician knows his duty is to the people – it’s very unlikely that he’ll let us down.

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Romney

I agree with most, I believe Romney will start immediately, if he gets this job, promoting himself to run for president in four years. He will only be a thorn in Trump's side for 4 years. Wake Up Trump, we need Rudy!

Why should this shock anyone?

Why should this shock anyone? Trump is a business man and his businesses have succeeded so if it's not broke, why fix it? This has been a problem with far too many of our senators and congressmen. Everyone has always wondered if you ran the gov't. like a business if it would succeed. Now we are about to find out. I, for one, think it will. Anything has got to be better than the last eight 8 years. God has put this man in for some reason and I hope the reason is to return America back to its founding roots; the last 8 were years of rampant moral decay and I think God put obama in to assure Trumps victory. We need to pray for Trump and his administration and for God to use them for His glory.

Romney for Secretary of State?

If President-Elect Trump intends to nominate Mitt Romney for Secretary of State, he sure is taking his time about it and keeping everyone guessing. What should concern him and us especially about Romney's recent behavior is not only the danger of covert disloyalty (which was overt during the campaign), but his current behavior of "sucking up" to Trump. The last thing we need (especially after 8 years of suck-ups and traitors in that office) is another Secretary of State who will continue the Obamunist tradition of sucking up to foreign leaders who do not mean us well. Hopefully all these rumors about Romney are only a smoke-screen for Trump's real pick as Secretary of State.