Great Expectations
By John D. Turner
14 Dec 2016

Has anyone in America (or the world for that matter) not noticed that Donald J. Trump is an unconventional President Elect? I for one am enjoying watching the show. If you think President-Elect Trump is unconventional, wait until you see President Trump take office!

Donald Trump was an unconventional primary candidate. No one gave him any chance to win the Republican primary; except he did. Donald Trump was an unconventional presidential candidate. No one gave him any chance to win the presidency. The media predicted a Hillary landslide. The polls predicted a Hillary victory. Republicans were portrayed as running away from his candidacy – and some did. And yet, he won that too.

The press has been trying hard to portray his transition efforts as “going off the rails.” They tried to portray his team as a team in disarray. They tried very hard to present a picture of a man who was in over his head, who had no idea how to run a presidential transition, much less the country, and who would likely take office on 20 Jan 2017 with most of his appointees still in limbo. The Washington Post is actually maintaining a web page on how many key positions Trump has filled so far. According to that site, of the 689 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, he has announced 20 nominees so far.

And he continues to fill key positions; every day a stream of potential appointees flows through Trump Towers to speak with Mr. Trump and his transition team. There is no evidence to suggest that his administration will not be ready to “hit the ground running” on 20 Jan 2017.

It is true that his picks thus far have not commanded universal approval from the media, those on the left, and even with some in his own party. Not unexpected; many have been just as unconventional as he himself. People voted for Trump because they wanted change, ironically the same reason many voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Change means doing things a different way, not the same way they have been done in the past. It has been said that a definition of insanity is doing things the same way over and over again, and expecting a different result.

When the media and the left look at Trump’s choices, they tend to analyze the picks based on what the various persons have said in conversations both on and off the record. They analyze them from a political context, having little or nothing to do with the job they are being asked to fill. And of course, they look at the damage they are likely to do to all the leftist programs that have been put into place under the Obama administration; particularly those emplaced by executive fiat and not legislation.

They don’t like Tom Price at HHS, not because he lacks experience (he is an orthopedic surgeon turned congressman, so one would think he has experience with not only the medical side of the house, but the political side as well), but rather because he is an outspoken critic of Obamacare, who wants not only to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act, but also would like to privatize Medicare and “do away with Planned Parenthood,” at least according to Harry Reid, who finds Trump’s choices thus far, “scary.”

But the Republicans ran on repealing and replacing Obamacare. Republicans have repeatedly talked about privatizing Medicare and getting the government out of the health care business entirely. And while I have heard many Republicans talk about ending government funding for Planned Parenthood, I haven’t heard any talk about enacting legislation to “do away” with it. How could they? Planned Parenthood is a private company. If eliminating government subsidies for the company would cause the company to fold, then so be it. There are many other companies providing the same or similar services; if they can’t compete, they should go out of business. I see no reason why the US taxpayer should be called upon to subsidize a private company.

Incidentally, I felt the same way about GM and Chrysler as well. Still do. And the big banks that are supposedly “too big to fail.”

They don’t like Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice for education secretary, not because she knows nothing about education, but because she “hasn’t had any personal experience with public education.” But perhaps that is the point. Who is Betsy DeVos? She is a billionaire businesswoman, philanthropist, and education activist from Michigan who has been at the forefront of the educational-reform movement. She is an advocate for school choice and voucher programs. She is the chairman of the American Federation for Children.

If she were on the left, she would be great! A successful woman who is an education activist; activists are great stuff when they are on the left. On the right? Not so much it seems. So, is she some kind of wild-eyed wing-nut who has been dredged off the ocean bottom with views never-before-seen by anyone outside of perhaps some knuckle-dragging Neanderthals living in a cave somewhere?

Not really. Republicans have constantly talked about education reform; it isn’t like this should be a surprise. Ronald Reagan ran on a platform of doing away with the Department of Education entirely. He didn’t actually do that, as it turns out, however many Republicans favored the idea then and still do today, believing that education properly belongs back in the individual states and at the local level, and should not be run or dictated at the federal level.

Republicans are not interested in maintaining the educational status quo; our ranking worldwide in reading, science and mathematics is slipping every year. Our students have the highest self-esteem in the world. But self-esteem doesn’t put rockets in space or beans on the table. What we are doing is not working. The public education system as it stands now is great for teachers and administrators – but isn’t working so well for those it is supposed to be serving; our children. It is time to try something else.

Harry Reid has commented on the parade of candidates flowing in and out of Trump Towers (he comments on quite a bit), remarking that “you have what looks like some kind of an auction going on for secretary of state; I don’t quite get that.” That’s because in Harry’s world, political appointments are determined as part of a political process. Who did the most for the campaign? Who has the most political clout? Who behind the scenes knows where all the bodies are buried? Who scratched my back? He has probably never seen a business person hiring someone for a position based on actual qualifications for the job. Does he even know what an interview process is or looks like? It is not uncommon for a person to undergo multiple interviews for a position before finally getting (or not getting) the job.

Multiple interviews were held, and finally Trump announced his pick for Secretary of State. They didn’t like that one either; when the Trump transition team announced the pick to be Rex Tillerson, who according to Forbes Magazine, was named in 2015 as #25 amongst the most powerful people in the world (down from #20 in 2014), the left collectively had another conniption. What is Mr. Tillerson’s problem with the Democrats (aside from being picked by Trump)? Well, he is a billionaire for one – and there are too many of those that have been nominated already. If that weren’t enough, Mr. Tillerson is the CEO of that evil oil giant, ExxonMobil. The only thing that would probably be worse would be if he were the CEO of Peabody Energy, the largest coal-mining company in the U.S.

Then of course, he knows Vladimir Putin - personally. You know, the guy who hacked the election and gave it to Trump? There are pictures of the two of them shaking hands! Not only that, but Putin presented him with the Russian Order of Friendship; an award purportedly not widely given to foreigners (at least that is what they said on the radio this morning). I guess that means they must be BFFs! Interestingly, although the media, the left, and some Republicans are expressing their “concern,” according to CNN, Tillerson “was recommended to Trump” by Condoleezza Rice, James Baker, and Robert Gates. Both Rice and Baker are former Secretaries of State; Rice is an expert in Russian affairs, while Gates is a former Secretary of Defense.

They don’t like his pick for Secretary of Defense, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis. Maybe it’s the nickname, or maybe it’s just that they don’t like the idea of having a former general in charge of the entire Defense Department. Or maybe they, like the Clintons, simply don’t like the military period. The Marines like the pick. They should, they know Mattis; he’s one of theirs. From what I have read of him he looks like a good choice. But of course, I am not a leftist.

They don’t like his pick for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions. He favors enforcing the immigration laws. He thinks that since we have a federal law on the books about Marijuana that it should be enforced. He is not happy with how the Department of “Justice” has been run under the Obama administration, and fully intends to “clean house.” He is portrayed as anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT by the left.

Well no, he is anti-illegal immigration, pro-vetting Muslim refugees before they are granted entry into the United States, and does not believe that LGBTers or anyone else deserve special rights not granted to everyone. If you want to cast that as “anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT, then so be it; it’s a free country and you have the freedom to be ignorant just like anyone else.

They don’t like his pick for Homeland Security (another Marine general), or for National Security Advisor (another general), or for Commerce (another billionaire).

They really don’t like Rick Perry at Energy (AGW skeptic), or Scott Pruitt at the EPA (another AGW skeptic). It is worth noting that, if approved by the Senate, Rick Perry will be heading a department that, during the primary debates, he said he would abolish if elected president; not coincidently, another department that Ronald Reagan said he would abolish, but failed to do so. Scott Pruitt has been a harsh critic of the EPA, and as Oklahoma state attorney general, has fought long and hard against what he calls “unlawful and overreaching” regulations promulgated by the department under the Obama administration.

In fact, I can’t name one single appointment that they do like, or even feel that they can tolerate. I understand their sentiment; it’s pretty much how I felt when Mr. Obama was picking his cabinet in 2008.

And yet, remember how in 2008, Mr. Obama and the left trumpeted how “elections have consequences,” and we on the right should just shut up and color? Well, it’s 2016 now. Do elections still have consequences, or is that only when the left wins the election?

I look at the nominations, and the nomination process, and I see a Chief Executive holding job interviews for his corporate board, selecting the best candidate for each position based on their knowledge and job skills. I see a team forming that is not composed of political sycophants charged with, at best, maintaining the status quo or at worst wrapping the chains of government regulation tighter around our throats, but rather poised to actually do something; to enact that reform that Mr. Trump was sent to Washington to accomplish from the top down. Time will tell whether or not he is successful, but he is putting in place the people needed to do the job.

The battle will be fierce, beginning on 3 January when the new Congress is sworn in and seated. At that time, the battle in the Senate for the confirmation of Trump’s choices will begin. Don’t expect the Democrats to rubber-stamp any of them. Who knows how many will be left standing by 20 January when, God willing, Mr. Trump is sworn into office.

And hopefully they will be able to accomplish something. I have seen career civil servants “wait out” a boss they didn’t like. “These things too shall pass,” the saying goes. Of course in the Air Force, that is usually a two year period; that’s how long a commander is typically at a particular assignment. Here the “wait” will be four years at minimum, eight at maximum. Mr. Trump recently made a statement that indicated he intends to be around for eight years. We will see how effective he is and what happens in 2020.

In the meantime, I wish him well. I like what I see so far – and I was far from sure I would when he got the nomination. He is putting together a no-nonsense, hard-hitting slate of cabinet officials and advisors. These are not people who are coming in simply to draw a paycheck. For the most part, they don’t need one; some like Trump, are returning their checks (less one dollar – it is illegal, believe it or not, to work for the government for free) to the treasury.

It is said that there are three kinds of people in the world; those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened. Trump’s team are all highly accomplished, highly motivated leaders – not managers; used to making things happen, not watching them. Those who expect “business as usual” will soon be wondering what happened.

Suddenly, I have great expectations...