Trump’s Picks

 

donald-trump-cabinet-list-of-appointmentsEarly last week, Michael Barone published a piece analyzing the election returns in which he focused on the manner in which “the double-negatives” — those who thought highly neither of Donald Trump nor of Hillary Clinton — broke at the very end decisively for the former. Here is the way he put it:

One reason polling may have been misleading, or at least misled many of us in the psephology racket, is that this is the first presidential election since random sample polling began in 1935 in which most voters had negative feelings toward both major party candidates.

Election analysts have had experience dealing with elections in which majorities have positive feelings about both nominees; that has usually been the case in contests which turn out to have been seriously contested. “Double positives,” people with positive feelings about both candidates, will usually split along partisan or perhaps ethnic lines, and ordinarily pretty evenly.

But what about “double negatives”? The default assumption most of us have had, I suspect, is that they would split roughly evenly between the candidates. But that didn’t happen this year. According to the exit poll (current figures, which may be slightly revised), 18 percent of voters were “double negatives,” that is, had negative feelings toward both Clinton and Trump. Of these 18 percent, 49 percent voted for Trump and only 29 percent voted for Clinton, with 22 percent saying they picked another candidate or not answering.

The Trump-Clinton split as a percentage of the entire electorate was 9 to 5 percent, a 4 percent margin. Assume that was the split in each target state, rather than the 7 to 7 percent under my default assumption. If you subtract 2 percent from each close state from Trump’s percentage and add it to Clinton’s, you have Clinton carrying Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which have 101 electoral votes. That would give Clinton a 329-209 majority in the Electoral College. As Nate Silver pointed out on FiveThirtyEight.com, that’s a big difference.

Later in the week, Michael came back to the question of Hillary Clinton’s loss and focused on what happened in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the upper Midwest to the Democratic vote outside the major cities. Here he observed:

Iowa, the largest state with no million-plus metro areas was typical: 54 percent Democratic in 2008, 52 in 2012, 41 percent in 2016. The drop is similar in Wisconsin outside Milwaukee and Madison (54 to 50 to 41 percent), Michigan outside Detroit and Grand Rapids (55 to 52 to 41 percent), Ohio outside Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati (48 to 47 to 35 percent), Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (48 to 44 to 36 percent).

Similar outstate drops were not quite enough to carry Minnesota for Trump and were swamped in Illinois by metro Chicago. But they were enough to switch the Midwest electoral vote from 80-38 Democratic in 2012 to 88-30 Republican this year.

These areas aren’t growing demographically, but they’re not tiny either. They cast 100 percent of votes in Iowa, 61 percent in Wisconsin, 47 percent in Michigan and Pennsylvania, 44 percent in Ohio.

And in trying to explain the shift, he pointed to three concerns: economic stagnation and its impact on the population that shifted, the growing conviction among Midwesterners that Mrs. Clinton was deeply dishonest, and the impact on them of her description of Trump voters. It is the last that especially interests me.

There’s also the condescension of Clinton and her campaign headquartered in trendy Brooklyn. “Religious beliefs,” candidate Clinton said in 2015, “have to be changed.” She told a Manhattan audience that half of Trump supporters were “deplorables” and “irredeemables” characterized by “implicit racism.”

Outstate people who voted for Obama, or whose neighbors or friends at church did, probably weren’t attracted by such statements. Decent people don’t like to be called racists and told that their religion needs to be changed (by the government?).

I would go a bit further than Michael did. I live in a small town in the upper Midwest and I did not think highly of either candidate. For a long time I sat on the fence undecided. I was not worried that Trump was a racist or bigot. I did fear that he was irresponsible, and his remarks regarding foreign policy worried me almost as much as it worried John Yoo and Jeremy Rabkin. What caused me to hold me nose, vote for Trump, and urge others to do so was not “the condescension” exhibited by Mrs. Clinton but the outright hatred she voiced. People who are deplorable and irredeemable need to be crushed. They cannot be allowed to rear their own children, and they must be forced into line. What she had to say was nasty and ugly. That it reflected the views of many of her supporters I never doubted. That she would herself express such views in private and then double-down on them in public later in the campaign — that pushed me over the edge. It was already evident to me that the Democrats intended to neutralize the First Amendment via the courts and impose a regime of censorship on the country. When she spoke these words I knew that she was as radical as the rest. My bet is that these remarks weighed heavily in the decisions made in this part of the country by “the double-negatives.”

Naturally enough, given my misgivings about the President-elect, I have been watching carefully as he has begun putting together a cabinet. I entertain two fears. The first is that, like most Republicans, he will — once elected — betray the base and return to the practices of the managerial progressive wing of the party. The second is that he will turn his back on our allies abroad and sidle up to the likes of Vladimir Putin.

So far, I find his choices reassuring. Jeff Sessions is, as Byron York reports today, “the Democrats’ nightmare.” He can be relied on to enforce the laws as written, to purge what Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch turned into a Department of Obstruction of Justice, and to give us again an impartial, nonpartisan administration of justice — above all, with regard to immigration. In choosing him, Trump has signaled that he means business.

The same is evident in his appointment of Reince Priebus as chief of staff and Steve Bannon as his principal advisor. Priebus is as tough as nails. He saw Scott Walker through the political war in Wisconsin, and he managed to hold the Republican Party together in this election — which was no mean feat. Bannon is the perfect war-time consigliere. He is fearless and clear-headed. The abuse being directed in the mainstream press at Sessions and Bannon is a sign of the significance of these appointments.

I also find the appointments and likely appointments on the foreign policy side reassuring. Mike Pompeo, who will take over the CIA, is no amateur. He graduated first in his class at West Point in 1986, did active duty for some years, took a law degree at Harvard, and has done service on the House Intelligence Committee. He knows the terrain.

Trump’s choice for foreign policy advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn had a stellar career on the intelligence side in the Army and served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, when he was pushed out for not being on board with the Obama administration’s assessment of the developments likely in Syria. He is one of the few people in the larger national-security world who does not resort to embarrassing euphemisms when describing the relationship between militant Islam and the terrorist threat we now confront. Next to no one is willing to acknowledge in public the fact that Islam is itself a problem and that a religion of holy law is prone to becoming a radical political movement. In a world of liars, Flynn is a breath of fresh air.

Trump has not yet announced his choice for the Department of Defense. Fox News reports, however, that he has settled on Jim Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general who took over CentCom from David Petraeus in 2010 and ran it until 2014, when he, too, was pushed out after giving Barack Obama advice regarding Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran that the President did not want to hear. Mattis is a genuine warrior who is notoriously blunt and to the point. In the Marines he was affectionately dubbed “Mad Dog Mattis,” and he has good sense. On one occasion, he said, “The international order… is not self sustaining. It demands tending by an America that leads wisely, standing unapologetically… in defense of our values.” On another, he told his Marines: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Let me add that I know Mattis slightly. I spent a couple of days in his company in October at a small conference held at the Hoover Institution. What struck me at the time was that every time he opened his mouth it was clear that he knew what he was talking about. I cannot think of anyone better equipped to be Secretary of Defense, and I cannot imagine an isolationist picking such a man for the job.

Finally, Mike Pence has intimated that Mitt Romney may be chosen Secretary of State. That, too, would be splendid. It would help bind up the wounds of the party, and it would put a real gentleman in charge of Foggy Bottom. Like Mattis, Romney is no isolationist, and his prescience in foreign affairs was on display in the debates that took place in 2012. He was derided at the time for his insistence that Russia is a rival and should be treated as such, and he turned out to be right. His presence in the administration would go a long ways toward reassuring those of us who fear that Donald Trump is a bit too friendly with Vladimir Putin. My only concern is that he might be too decent a man to conduct the purge that is needed in Foggy Bottom. Everyone in the State Department must have known that Hillary Clinton was violating security protocols, and nobody blew the whistle. If Romney is chosen for the top job, someone with the requisite ruthlessness should be put in charge of the foreign service.

When I look at this as a whole, I am tempted to be sanguine about this administration. It looks as if Donald Trump really means drain the swamp and as if he is canny about foreign affairs. All of the right people are upset about his picks, and all of the right people are inordinately pleased. Perhaps, what we saw on the campaign was Trump the entertainer and what we are about to see is Trump the hard-nosed businessman. Let me add that, where Barack Obama tended to surround himself with yes-men and to get rid of anyone who told him truths he did not want to hear, Donald Trump seems to have a taste for straight-shooters. So far, so good.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    MJBubba:Maybe Trump met with Romney just to ask to have a look at those binders full of women.

    I endorse this theory.

    • #31
  2. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Arahant:

    Vice-Potentate: Like it or not people care about the diversity game. I think Trump should deign to play it and right now is the most opportune time.

    Have you noticed how Trump has been playing every game by his own rules? They said he could never win without a ground game. Etc. Yet, he won. He defied conventional wisdom at every turn. Let’s see what he does here.

    How about we get the best people for the job, and not base it on whether they have a vagina or a penis, or what their melanin content is, or how many vowels in their last name.

    • #32
  3. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    Arahant:

    Vice-Potentate: Like it or not people care about the diversity game. I think Trump should deign to play it and right now is the most opportune time.

    Have you noticed how Trump has been playing every game by his own rules? They said he could never win without a ground game. Etc. Yet, he won. He defied conventional wisdom at every turn. Let’s see what he does here.

    It’s true that Trump has continually broken rules and come out on top all the same.  However, while Trump did win the election, he didn’t expand the number of GOP voters (he did pick up blue collar white votes in key swing states, but it does appear he lost some long-time GOP and independents elsewhere).  I think the Dem’s still could have won this year if they hadn’t had such a despicable candidate.

    Obviously we want whoever he picks for the cabinet to be first-and-foremost qualified and competent, but there are non-white-male figures out there who would fit the bill.  The media will still try to paint him as racist no matter what, but I think that among the American electorate there would be some who would be reassured if there are some woman and/or minority picks.  Yes, it’s a stupid game and I hate that I’m sounding like a leftist, but I do think the game still matters.

    • #33
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Kozak: or how many vowels in their last name.

    Hmmn, Trump has a four-to-one consonant to vowel ratio. Obviously, he should hire more Poles until he finds those with higher ratios.

    • #34
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Paul A. Rahe: Everyone in the State Department must have known that Hillary Clinton was violating security protocols, and nobody blew the whistle.

    That was the worst of that story. How could so many people have gone along with this breach of security protocol!

    • #35
  6. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    My biggest worry about Trump was foreign policy. Flynn has had some troubling affinities for the Russians, but I get why he was put in as National Security Adviser. I really want some one serious about Russia as Secretary of State, for me to breath easy. I honestly have no opinion on Sessions as AG. I expect domestic policy to be controlled by Ryan whom I do trust. So I think it is still early to be sanguine, cautiously optimistic, maybe.

    • #36
  7. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    Valiuth:I really want some one serious about Russia as Secretary of State…

    Well, this would be a point in Romney’s favor, then.

     

    • #37
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Valiuth: So I think it is still early to be sanguine, cautiously optimistic, maybe.

    Cautious is all any politician ever gets from me.

    • #38
  9. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Knotwise the Poet:

    Valiuth:I really want some one serious about Russia as Secretary of State…

    Well, this would be a point in Romney’s favor, then.

    It is. I would also take Patreus because I heard his name bandied about too. Romney’s comments in 2012 have borne out to be prescient with respect to Russia, so I think that is certainly a very good point in his favor. Also I agree with the professor that it would be a good show of patching things up. Maybe it isn’t necessary but it would be nice, and as one of those double negatives that went third party I would appreciate the gesture.

    I do hope that if Romney is offered the job he does take it. It gives him the best chance to influence Trump and policy, and if things are going to go wrong because Trump is who we feared it gives him the best chance to expose it early.

    • #39
  10. Scarlet Pimpernel Inactive
    Scarlet Pimpernel
    @ScarletPimpernel

    “To give us again an impartial, nonpartisan administration of justice.”

    Has post-modernism seeped so far into the Democratic party that they will be unwilling to recognize that standard?

    • #40
  11. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Happy about Mattis! Hoorah, Mad Dog!

    • #41
  12. Mike-K Member
    Mike-K
    @

    livingthehighlife: But is he really the guy who can carry out the foreign policy of Trump? My feeling is they are very different in how they view the world, and I’m concerned anytime the President and SoS aren’t in agreement on policy strategy.

    You mean like Bush and Powell ? Trump seems to be focused on domestic and trade issues. With Mattis at DoD and Romney doing the State policies, I think we would have a good combination. Some good cop; bad cop is useful. Reagan played the bad cop superbly.

    • #42
  13. Mike-K Member
    Mike-K
    @

    MarciN: How could so many people have gone along with this breach of security protocol!

    There are stories of near revolt in several agencies. FBI was one and State was another. Read this blog.

    http://www.thediplomad.com/

     

    There are also stories of a mole hunt going on in NSA.

    • #43
  14. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Vice-Potentate:

    PHCheese:

    Vice-Potentate:It’s a brutal calculus, but he needs more minorities/women in his picks. Maybe Department of education and department of the interior are fertile ground?

    Every time I hear this diversity mantra I am reminded of Red Auerbach of the Boston Celitcs. His first teams had nearly all white players. Shorty later he had mostly black players, a little later he was back to all white players and then back to black players over the years. He said he was criticized for his racial make up at all turns. His rebuttal was black or white he wanted the best team. Why is that wrong?

    It’s not wrong on substance. It’s wrong in optics. Like it or not people care about the diversity game. I think Trump should deign to play it and right now is the most opportune time.

    We are too far down the road for optics.

    • #44
  15. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Knotwise the Poet:With regards to Romney, I’d be very excited to have Romney as Secretary of State. I’m a fan and think he would do great. But, perhaps even more importantly to me, it would be a great show of magnanimity by Trump and make me feel more confident about his ability to put aside ego when making decisions about what’s best for the country (not that I think Romney is the only good choice for SofS, mind you).

    Totally agree with this.

    • #45
  16. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Sash: Romney’s skill set is fixing broken companies, cutting the unproductive to save the productive, I think he would be fine with firing the corrupt at State.

    I agree. Funny, selecting someone with a valuable skill set. Rocket science!!

    • #46
  17. Keith SF Inactive
    Keith SF
    @KeithSF

    Vice-Potentate:

    PHCheese:

    Vice-Potentate:It’s a brutal calculus, but he needs more minorities/women in his picks. Maybe Department of education and department of the interior are fertile ground?

    Every time I hear this diversity mantra I am reminded of Red Auerbach of the Boston Celitcs […] His rebuttal was black or white he wanted the best team. Why is that wrong?

    It’s not wrong on substance. It’s wrong in optics. Like it or not people care about the diversity game. I think Trump should deign to play it and right now is the most opportune time.

    I think Carly Fiorina as Press Secretary would be brilliant.

    .

    • #47
  18. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Keith SF: I think Carly Fiorina as Press Secretary would be brilliant.

    This seems a bit demeaning to me. The woman was an executive who ran a major corporation. Would you suggest the same for, say, Bill Gates? Or pick another male CEO who has better relations with the press. Steve Jobs when he was alive? When has the press secretary ever been a highly successful CEO? Usually it’s a more journalistic type. Now, Anne Coulter…

    • #48
  19. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Kate Braestrup:Happy about Mattis! Hoorah, Mad Dog!

    He’s not just a gung-ho Marine; he’s a really smart, thoughtful guy.  If he’s the guy, we’re all better off.

    • #49
  20. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet
    @KnotwisethePoet

    Brian McMenomy:

    Kate Braestrup:Happy about Mattis! Hoorah, Mad Dog!

    He’s not just a gung-ho Marine; he’s a really smart, thoughtful guy. If he’s the guy, we’re all better off.

    Didn’t know much about him.  But I discovered that he’s been on Uncommon Knowledge before, and have been listening to an interview he did back in January.  I like what I hear.

    • #50
  21. Matt White Member
    Matt White
    @

    Arahant:

    Keith SF: I think Carly Fiorina as Press Secretary would be brilliant.

    This seems a bit demeaning to me. The woman was an executive who ran a major corporation. Would you suggest the same for, say, Bill Gates? Or pick another male CEO who has better relations with the press. Steve Jobs when he was alive? When has the press secretary ever been a highly successful CEO? Usually it’s a more journalistic type. Now, Anne Coulter…

    She did show some real ability to deal with questioners in the debates, though.

    • #51
  22. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Sash: That was when I became NeverTrump, that was no accident, that was pandering to racists. And that was Sessions.

    The same Sessions that made sure a KKK member got the death penalty? The Sessions that worked to desegregate schools in Alabama?

    Wow, who-da-thunk-it.

    • #52
  23. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Richard Fulmer:I like seeing generals in the cabinet and would like to see some former governors as well. Executive experience counts for a lot. Typically, neither a Senator nor a Congressman has had that kind of responsibility. Mitt Romney would be a fine Secretary of State and Bobby Jindal would be a good choice for either Education or HHS.

    Amen.

    • #53
  24. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    mollysmom:

    Paul A. Rahe:

    mollysmom:Excellent evaluation. I too am optimistic so far, seeing a real plan of meritricious selections aimed to achieve specific goals to turn the government away from its list to the left. So much of Obama’s selections were cronyism.

    Do you mean meritocratic? Meritricious has a rather different meaning. Look it up.

    Oops..an archaic definition of meretricious (didn’t even spell it right) is having the characteristics of a prostitute, which would have been more appropriate for a Clinton appointment.

    Yes. When I read your comment, I laughed. I make the same sort of mistakes every so often.

    • #54
  25. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Valiuth:My biggest worry about Trump was foreign policy. Flynn has had some troubling affinities for the Russians, but I get why he was put in as National Security Adviser. I really want some one serious about Russia as Secretary of State, for me to breath easy. I honestly have no opinion on Sessions as AG. I expect domestic policy to be controlled by Ryan whom I do trust. So I think it is still early to be sanguine, cautiously optimistic, maybe.

    I am with you on the question of Russia. Flynn may also think too well of Erdogan.

    • #55
  26. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Scarlet Pimpernel:“To give us again an impartial, nonpartisan administration of justice.”

    Has post-modernism seeped so far into the Democratic party that they will be unwilling to recognize that standard?

    Yes. Next question?

    • #56
  27. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    iDad:

    Sash:If Romney is a head fake he is going to suffer. Many of us are comforted at the thought of Romney running State. Romney’s skill set is fixing broken companies, cutting the unproductive to save the productive, I think he would be fine with firing the corrupt at State. It’s not personal.

    <snip>

    But reality is what it is.

    I will believe he intends good in the main if he picks Romney, but if not, he is someone to keep at arms length, and not commit to supporting. He is suspect in picking only loyalists, smack of quid pro quo. Another word for that is pay to play.

    Because Trump’s choices should be guided by someone who refused to vote for him and who repeats progressive slanders of the people he has already chosen.

    Agreed. I am not so sanguine (to use Prof Rahe’s term) about Romney. His attacks on Trump were vicious and constant. As good as it is to have opposite opinions to challenge your positions, there needs to still be an overall respect between these two men that would take 180 degree turnaround, it seems, to accomplish.I also am not necessarily convinced of Romney’s international bonafides. I do not dismiss them, but it isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think about his qualifications.

    • #57
  28. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    MJBubba:Maybe Trump met with Romney just to ask to have a look at those binders full of women.

    @mjbubba Someone is feeling pretty frisky today. It’s nice to be able to laugh again.

    • #58
  29. Viator Inactive
    Viator
    @Viator

    Mad Dog’s reading list – greater Middle East for Staff NCOs and Field Grade Officers

    All the Shah’s Men – Stephen Kinzer

    Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napolean to Al-Qaeda – John Keegan

    The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power – Max Boot

    Battle Ready – Tom Clancy

    The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future – Vali Nasr

    Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution – Nikki Keddie

    Failure of Political Islam – Oliver Roy

    Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism – Robert Pope

    A Peace to End All Peace – David Fromkin

    The Arab Israeli Wars – Chaim Herzog

    What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East – Bernard Lewis

    The Easter Offensive – Colonel G. H. Turley

    The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror – Bernard Lewis

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/ltgen-james-mattis-reading-list

    • #59
  30. Viator Inactive
    Viator
    @Viator

    Steve Bannon’s daughter, Maureen (USMA ’10) gets promoted to Captain, US Army.

    https://scontent-ort2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/l/t31.0-8/s960x960/10536811_270305103155738_7639283902031549909_o.jpg

     

    • #60
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