In a time of fear and uncertainty, one more area of concern is the president-elect’s cabinet shortlist. According to several news organizations, Trump is using a method that has worked for him in the past: The Apprentice reality show way to pick “winners” to help him “Make America great again,” and “win so much that Americans will be tired of winning,” or “you’re fired!”
There are cameras stationed outside the lobby elevators at Trump Tower to catch each candidate and newly designated official sycophants like Mitt Romney as they take the magic elevator to the Trumpian version of Oz (only I think it is more the horrific Oz of the HBO prison drama than the yellow brick road Oz with Dorothy and Toto). Is there anything more pathetic than watching spineless Romney come to Trump to kiss his ring? Where’s the fire, Mitt? Where’s the passion? When you kissed the president-elect’s hand, did it still taste of “fake” and “phony” in your now trumped-over words? Did he make you crawl across the floor in supplication? How quickly any sort of integrity can be surrendered. Wave to the cameras, Mitt. Kiss the ring like a good boy.
So we have the big reality show with all the tension and surprise of a season finale: who will be Secretary of State? Attorney General? Personal assistant? Oh wait, that last one has been filled already. (“Christy, fetch me a steak from Jean Georges!”) I just know this moment WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING!!! in the parlance of reality show lingo. The ratings will be HUUUUUUUUUGE!! Let’s look at the list of contestants…errr…finalists? What did they do to get to the final round? They loyally supported the candidate through his bigoted, sexist, degrading, malevolent campaign. They choked out compliments to the king when he proposed banning Muslims from America, and promised to build a wall while simultaneously sending immigrants back where they came from. They sucked it up and stood by the candidate while he basked in the swirling debris of his own shit storm. It’s okay; everything came out in the wash. Now the sheets are clean and we are ready to hit the ground running while the Alt-Right salutes the brand new day with extended hands at their convention in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C.
Jeff Sessions for Attorney General? This little man with the sparkling eyes of an imp just screams racial equality and justice, doesn’t he? His own party rejected him back in the 1980s for his extremist views. With the country roiling with police shootings—officers killing black men; people killing officers in ambush—how will Sessions bring peace? In my own city, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he will not have his officers deporting people even under orders from President Trump. This is a noble stand, but is it solid ground? If Chief Beck won’t do the deporting, there will be somebody waiting in line who will. Bravo, Chief Beck, but watch your back.
Reince Priebus for Chief-of-Staff. This is not a questionable call, mainly because Priebus is Republican mainstream and the sole hope for a voice of reason in this surreality show. Too bad Steve Bannon may shout him down and shove him out the back door. Bannon is chief strategist, and it would appear most of the strategies involve inflicting pain on Americans of color, immigrants, women, members of certain religions, et cetera, et cetera. Welcome to the new world order. How long will Priebus last before he starts looking for the parachute to get out of this jumbo jet hurtling toward the earth?
Secretary of State? The front runner is Rudy Giuliani. What experience does this guy have with foreign policy and diplomacy? Stop and frisk won’t work with North Korea or ISIS or Putin in Russia. Yes, he allegedly “cleaned up” New York as mayor, but most New Yorkers have mixed feelings about the Giuliani years. Many people chafed under his abrasive, in-your-face style. Trump ran on a platform of getting tough with our allies forcing them to pay up for our protection, eliminating the threat of ISIS, cracking down on trade with China, but will this play in real life beyond reality television? Diplomacy requires an iron hand in a silk glove, and Giuliani appears to be all metal and machetes—no subtlety of state craft; no nuances of diplomacy. The other candidate lobbed about is Mitt Romney. Poor Mitt. Stayed out of the race this year and became the voice of reason in an out-of-control, skidding Republican Party only to be invited to Trump’s New Jersey golf course to be paraded in front of the media as a tiny man shrinking by the moment. It’s tough to surrender your convictions on live television, but there he was, shaking the tiny orange hand and claiming to have had a good conversation about real issues, like apologizing and begging for forgiveness.
Sarah Palin for Secretary of the Interior? One of Trump’s earliest supporters is her only qualification for the job. Of course, any woman who works for Trump should watch that Access Hollywood clip over and over again until she has “blood coming out of her eyes or blood coming out of her wherever,” or maybe they could read Trump’s divorce papers from his first marriage where he abused and raped Ivana, according to her deposition.
The entire country waits to see what kind of president Donald Trump will be. Those who voted for him want to see the wall go up, the Muslims registered, and the undocumented deported. Those who are along for this ride not of their own choosing keep hoping he will “pivot.” But as we saw time and again in the campaign, Trump is Trump. He is a loose cannon, a danger to himself and to America. Worse, he is lining his cabinet with people who are unlikely to restrain him, mainly because they got their jobs for remaining mum and blindly supporting Trump even in moments where he acted Hitleresque and childish. His election surprised many Americans and even Trump, himself, if his body language in the Oval Office with President Obama is any indication. Running the country and taking a seat at the world table are not part of some reality show; this is the real deal, and the guy we elected, and the people with whom he is surrounding himself, are amateurs.