Good Friday Austin:
Donald Trump’s team of rivals?
Not so much. Not so far.
Donald Trump’s serial humiliation of his former rivals, more likely.
And, the genius of this is that Trump is getting huge credit for growth and magnanimity for considering his severest critics as members of his administration, without actually, so far, giving them anything.
This morning it was announced that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and not Ted Cruz of Texas to be his attorney general.
Cornyn’s swift tweeting of the news suggests that our senior senator has a bit of the reporter’s delight in being the first to spread some big news.
Also, that he raced trough the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – in coping with his home state colleague being denied, moving straight to a sixth stage – giddy delight.
Trump naming Cruz attorney general would have been a bold and daring stroke – and completely crazy. Like giving Cruz a prime speaking role at the Republican National Convention.
Cruz has as clear and consistent philosophy as any man in politics. Trump does not.
There are a panoply of issues that are of central, live-or-die, importance to Cruz – gender identity and bathrooms, same-sex marriage, abortion – that Trump either doesn’t really care about or has a live-and-let-live attitude about – issues that Cruz would, as attorney general, be the point man on for his administration.
Just watch this Cruz ad.
Were Cruz to be Trump’s attorney general, it is only a question of whether it would be a matter of weeks or months before stories would start appearing about Cruz’s fierce and independent Justice Department, and raising provocative questions about who is calling the shots – Cruz or Trump – and who is the real power in Washington, and did Trump miscalculate by elevating Cruz to a place where he could potentially challenge him for renomination, all culminating in Trump firing Cruz and saying he never should have trusted Lyin’ Ted.
Instead, Trump gets credit for having even considered Cruz, and gets what he really wanted – the supplication of Ted Cruz, in his comments to the press about how he wants to serve the Trump administration, and in his coming to Trump Tower in a ritual of obeisance.
Sessions is the un-Cruz. He was the first senator and the first Republican officeholder of any real rank to back Trump, an endorsement that was, at the time, a body blow to Cruz who had much coveted Sessions’ backing as the arbiter of right-wing purity on immigration.
And, Sessions simply doesn’t call attention to himself. When he enters a room, people crane their necks to see if anyone more interesting is coming in behind him.
Here is Cruz’s comment on Sessions’ nomination.
Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general is great news for all of us who revere the Constitution and the rule of law. I have been honored to work with Sen. Sessions on many of our nation’s most important issues over the last four years. Sen. Sessions has had an extraordinary career in government and law enforcement. He has been an exemplary senator for the state of Alabama, and I am confident that he will be an exceptional United States attorney general.
Of course, for Texas reporters, this outcome is much to be mourned.
If Cruz had been named attorney general, Gov. Abbott could have sent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to Washington as Cruz’s successor until the 2018 election, where he would have quickly emerged as Trump’s de facto Senate whip (as opposed to Cornyn, the actual Senate whip), and his departure, or imminent departure, in the midst of the Texas legislative session would have set off a once-in-a-lifetime feeding frenzy that would have been a thing to behold.
In the meantime, Cruz and the other Trump Tower supplicants have to hope that the president-elect doesn’t have a hidden-camera taping system.
Trump: “Ted, come sit down next to me. I ordered us taco bowls. I love them. Let’s eat. Smile.”
Now comes Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, who while he didn’t run against Trump was quite as scathing as Cruz in his denunciation of every aspect of Trump’s personal and political being, and, unlike Cruz, refused to endorse or vote for him.
From ABC News:
President-elect Donald Trump will be meeting this weekend with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to sources on Trump’s transition team who also said that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee is under consideration for a top cabinet position within his incoming administration.
Sources told ABC News that Romney is under consideration for secretary of state.
One senior level source directly involved in the transition efforts told ABC News the meeting is also about “mending fences.”
Romney did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
The two have had a remarkably contentious relationship. During the campaign, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate not only withheld an endorsement but delivered an impassioned and personal argument against Trump as the party’s nominee. Romney slammed Trump as a “phony, a fraud” and accused him of “playing the American public for suckers.”
“Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities, the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics,” Romney said of Trump at the University of Utah in March.
Romney also criticized Trump’s business record and economic policies during his address.
Trump’s assessment of Romney was no kinder.
“Mitt Romney was a failed candidate — should have beaten Barack Obama easily,” Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America” on the same day Romney delivered his speech.
“He was a terrible candidate. He choked,” Trump said during a news conference at West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 5.
“If he would have devoted the same energy and time to winning the presidency four years ago, as he is now on trying to destroy our party and the unity of our party, he would have won that election and we wouldn’t have had the problems that we have right now,” Trump argued.
Once Trump was named the president-elect, however, Trump tweeted that Romney had called to congratulate him.
The Trump Transition Team announced this morning that Romney would be meeting Saturday with the president-elect at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, in New Jersey, where the transition meetings are being held this weekend.
Trump naming Romney secretary of state would reassure everyone who despises Trump, but it would suggest that Trump’s foreign policy was entirely up in the air, and might require Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign chairman and choice to be his chief strategist, to quit in protest.
On this morning’s Presidential Transition Team conference call, spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was meeting with Romney for the same reason he met with Henry Kissinger on Thursday.
It was jut an opportunity to get to hear some really good ideas and thoughts on the geopolitical situation as it stands now. The conversation with Mitt Romney is just that, an opportunity to hear his ideas and his thoughts. But I think the broader point really gets back to this idea of who Mr. Trump is and the kind of president he is going to be. He wants to be inclusive and ensure that we have the best and brightest and the highest caliber of people providing their input and serving this nation and that’s all it really comes down to.
Right. That’s it.
And, if somehow Romney emerges as Trump’s secretary of state, I believe it will turn out to be some kind of Cyborg Romney and that eventually, the real Mitt Romney, stripped down to his Mormon underwear, with a beard down to his knees, will be found locked in a chamber in Trump Tower.
My advice to Romney when he meets with Trump is to resist at all costs if Trump says, “Hey Mitt. Let’s have some fun. How about come cos play. I’ll be the sovereign and you can be the knight.”
And then there is Rick Perry.
My story yesterday:
Is President-elect Donald Trump considering naming Rick Perry as secretary of energy in his administration?
According to a report Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, the answer is yes.
But, as the Journal noted, the Energy Department is one of three that Rick Perry, during his first ill-fated run for the White House, wanted to eliminate. And it was Perry’s inability to remember that, that led to the most humiliating moment of his political career, and one of the most famous campaign gaffes in American political history.
It was at a Republican presidential debate in November 2011, that Perry, then a formidable candidate for his party’s nomination, said, “It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: commerce, education, and the uh … what’s the third one, there? Let’s see. The third one. I can’t … Oops.”
“Call me a cynic,” wrote Susan Wright, at RedState, but to her, the Perry mention for Energy, “looks to be a bit of trolling.”
As unlikely as that might seem, on his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live after Trump’s victory, host Dave Chappelle said, “America’s done it, we’ve actually elected an internet troll as president.”
Perry, in his second presidential campaign, was among Trump’s most vociferous critics, describing Trump in July 2015 as a “cancer on conservatism” and a “barking carnival act” who was “appealing to the worst instincts in the human condition.”
But once Trump triumphed over Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who Perry backed after he got out of the race, the former Texas governor endorsed Trump with unbridled enthusiasm, campaigning for Trump and advertising his willingness to serve in his administration, though he was most often mentioned as a potential secretary of veterans affairs.
On Nov. 9 Perry tweeted, “Just got a call to #makeamericagreatagain Saddle up & ride, bro!!,” and an Instagram image of Perry being handed a pay phone by Marcus Luttrell, the former Navy SEAL, for whom Perry has emerged as a kind of father figure. Perry’s role at the Republican National Convention was to introduce Luttrell, who spoke in favor of Trump.
If Trump is really going to put Rick Perry in his Cabinet, fine.
But, if he is pranking him, that’s just wrong.
Perry would be the most enthusiastic Trumper the next president could want.
He has already proved his allegiance to Trump and the lessons of Trump, appearing on reality TV with great gusto to demonstrate that he understands that being the longest-serving governor of the second-largest state is simply not enough.
Please, President-elect Trump. Stop.