Yes, the weather is unpredictable and variable, ranging from chaotic to sunny. We fear tornadoes, earthquakes, and intense coastal storms. We frequent our weather apps, stay up late (at least I do) to catch the 11:00 news, to watch my local weather person track the trajectory of what lies ahead. I like to plan; I need to plan.
I spent the two days before the inauguration watching CNN and MSNBC to educate myself about a few of Trump’s cabinet choices—who they are, how they think, how they respond under the pressure of astute questioning.
I’m grateful to these networks for their willingness, without extensive commentary, to cover as many hearings as possible.
In my last blog post— I am NOT the Enemy, I addressed my concern over Trump’s lack of executive function as demonstrated by his itchy-finger communication style. Given his reactivity and potential for impulsive decisions, I needed to see first hand if any of his cabinet choices could balance Trump’s inclinations.
- Nominee: Health and Human Services Secretary, Representative Tom Price, a dedicated Tea Party member and 10-term representative. Smooth talking and unflappable, even when confronted with gapping conflict of interest investments, Dr. Price assured but did not promise that he would maintain the intent of the Affordable Health Care Act. Under the precise questioning of Senator Elizabeth Warren as to how he can justify his recommendation to cut billions from the Medicare and Medicaid budgets, he said that spending on the programs was the “wrong metric.” How can his metric— care of patients, be separated from economics ? This man’s policies will take careful monitoring and translation.
- Nominee: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, company employer since 1975. At first, Tillerson appeared straight forward, possibly a man of his word. But as the hearing focused on his cozy dealings with Russia and his assurance of support of sanctions (in direct contrast to Trump’s stated opposition), beads of sweat and stress appeared on his forehead. Can we believe Tillerson’s assurance that Trump would heed his lead on sanctions and on the effect of fossil fuels and climate change. I want to believe but cannot.
- Nominee: Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs banker and now CEO of his own fund, Dune Capital. By far, Mnuchin’s testimony was the most fascinating—it was the complexity of his character. Ingratiating and polite to a fault, it was as if the sincere articulation of personal phrases such as “thank you” and “I’m empathetic and sorry,” could wipe out the multiple stories of people who lost their homes under Dune Capital’s watch. Only when Mnuchin turned to the tasks of the job at hand—modernizing the outdated Internal Revenue technology and a willingness to track and monitor overseas investments which violate tax laws, did he seem a credible candidate. My verdict: Maybe, on some accounts ( no pun intended), given his expertize in technology and tax laws.
Like the challenge of weather, we need to develop ways of tracking and resisting the complex machinations of Trump appointees and their effects. I’m grateful for this forum for grounding me like a port in the storm.