Screenshot, "Dancing With the Stars," featuring contestant Rick Perry
Yesterday, I was reaching to try to show a little optimism, here and there, on Trump's choices for his cabinet and other high level appointed jobs. But let's be honest. There's much more to suggest that Trump is actually just trolling the American people . . . just because he can. This is the juvenile mentality that refused to invite the head of Twitter to his Tuesday meeting with leaders of the tech industry, because he had overruled Trump's request that Twitter create a "Crooked Hillary" emoji for people to use with the hashtag of that same name.
The latest is the outrageous choice of Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy, a job that includes steering energy policy -- not just coal and oil but nuclear energy, as well as the new field of renewable energy. This cabinet officer also oversees the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is responsible for the integrity and safety of our nuclear arsenal and for dealing with other nations on nuclear nonproliferation. It commands 60% of our energy budget. Is Rick Perry up to that job? His last gig was as a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" (photo above); he was eliminated in an early round.
The current Energy Secretary is a Nobel Prize winning physicist; three of the last four secretaries have been physicists, which seems pretty logical. Perry has a bachelor's degree in animal science from Texas A and M. Richard Eskow, a Senior Fellow at the Campaign for America's Future, suggests that with his appointments Trump is not just making bad choices, he is actually showing "deliberate mockery of their departments, and of government itself."
Is Trump wanting to take us back to our pre-nuclear days of reliance on fossil fuels? He's chosen a Secretary of State who is CEO of Exxon-Mobile, but at least no one has called Tillerson dumb. If the Energy Department dealt only with fossil fuel energy, there might be a case to be made for Perry -- in a Trump cabinet, that is, where his climate-change denial fits right in. And Perry, as Texas governor, did promote extraction of oil and gas; he did promote wind energy and upgraded power lines to bring electricity generated from wind farms to the urban areas. But does Perry know anything about nuclear energy? Anything about negotiating nuclear non-proliferation treaties? Does Trump regard this as a serious appointment?
The Energy department now has more to do with nuclear treaties and national security than it does drilling for oil. More to do with carbon emissions policy than with coal mining. Does Trump know this? Does Perry? Does the transition team? Written questions from the transition team to the department indicate that they don't understand the department's scope.
Rick Perry has two claims to fame: he has good hair; and he famously bombed on the presidential debate stage when he was asked to name the three government departments he said he would eliminate as president -- and could only remember two of them. That's when he had his "Oops" moment. It was the Energy Department he couldn't remember. Now Trump wants to put him in charge of it???
Surely, he's kidding. Gov. Oops in charge of our nuclear safety? Do you know what that job calls for, Mr. Trump? Do you even care that Perry is a terrible choice?