Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Our System Is Designed to Thwart Presidential Ambition

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. 
(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
As a candidate, Donald Trump promised sweeping change in the way Washington functions. He would tell voters that the system is rigged, it's broken, it's run by losers, and only he could fix it. And yet, for all this rhetoric, it is striking how typical his presidential appointments have been: Jeff Sessions, Mike Pompeo, John Kelly, Rick Perry, Elaine Chao, Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Andrew Puzder, Nikki Haley, Seema Verma. Most of these appointees are conservative, of course, but they are conventionally conservative. It is striking, indeed, that the most controversial appointment so far is Rex Tillerson to the State Department. He is an outsider to the ways of Washington but he is still the CEO of a company with $380 billion in total assets and 75,000 employees. A populist barbarian storming the establishment gate, Tillerson is not!
Little wonder that Politico reported last week, "Donald Trump's White House-in-waiting is already being roiled by divisions, with the conservative outsiders who helped power his historic victory colliding with a Republican Party establishment muscling its way in."
Something similar happened eight years ago. Barack Obama promised a major break with the previous practices of both parties. Still, his appointments were conventionally liberal: Hillary Clinton, Tim Geithner, Robert Gates (who was actually a holdover from the George W. Bush administration), Eric Holder, Ken Salazar, Tom Vilsack, Gary Locke, Kathleen Sebelius, and so on. Obama largely sampled from the upper echelon of Democratic politicians and policymakers in forming his cabinet—certainly an ideological change from the Bush era but not a fundamental break from past practices.
The system, as it turns out, is much more resilient than presidential candidates on the trail want voters to believe. ...
Read the rest from Jay Cost HERE.

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