If you’re a conservative Republican who longs for a return of the “free market” economic policies and military interventionism of the Reagan years, Donald Trump’s cabinet picks no doubt warm your heart. If you’re just about anyone else, including all those Trump voters who hoped their man would “drain the swamp” and “burn the house down,” it looks like you’re screwed.
This country is at a tipping point: The 1 percent economy isn’t just a slogan, it’s a reality. The top 0.1% of households now hold about the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90%, according to this Business Insider story, with inequality here similar to what’s found in Russia and China. Meanwhile, as political and economic democracy are hollowed out at home, the U.S. has conducted military operations in seven countries since Obama took office — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria — and there’s potential for major wars or large-scale conflicts in various spots around the globe.
The TPP is dead but other than that there haven’t been any encouraging signs emanating from Team Trump on the economic front. Trump’s appointees “will probably wind up being the most wealthy group of people who have served in a presidential Cabinet in history,” political scientist Robert Spitzer told the Los Angeles Times. His economic team of billionaires and Wall Street financiers — most notably the vile and “lucky” new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — do not inspire confidence, to put it mildly.
In terms of foreign policy and defense, it’s telling that the new Pentagon chief, retired Marine General James Mattis, is nicknamed “Mad Dog,” seems hellbent on war with Iran, and yet is deemed to offer a check on incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn, the seemingly rabid retired lieutenant general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
(One positive note: Mattis is opposed by the Zionist Organization of America because he said, back in 2013, that the United States should aggressively lobby Israel to accept a two-state solution, saying, “Either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country.” Also, I don’t know much about Nikki Haley, the new United States Ambassador to the United Nations, but there’s no way to go but up from trigger-happy humanitarian intervention connoisseur Samantha Powers.)
The last key position to be named is secretary of state and there are some scary options there. Condoleezza Rice is now in the running but she’s unlikely to be named, sources have told me. The odds are also long, mercifully, on Rudy Giuliani, whose primary foreign policy experience was making a ton of money overseas with friends and cronies like Bernard Kerik and Anthony Carbonetti.
Mitt Romney also looks unlikely to make the cut. He brings nothing to the table and he’s disliked by a lot of Republicans, so his confirmation hearings would be contentious. It seems like Trump trotted Romney out purely for masochistic purposes, namely to make him grovel for a job from a man he strongly denounced during the campaign.
With Trump, though, you never really know what he’s going to do until he makes an announcement. One name that would be scary for a variety of reasons is General John Kelly, a former head of the U.S. Southern Command, who has Hillary Clinton-style views on the intervention in Latin America. (Kelly previously said he would consider a cabinet position under either Trump or Clinton, though he endorsed neither during the campaign.) Kelly is beloved on Capitol Hill, so he’d sail through confirmation.
That would put three senior military officials in charge of key agencies, which would be a wee bit unsettling, especially with Trump in charge. On the other hand, it would reduce the prospects of a military junta since Trump will have already more or less installed one.