What do you think the theme for Donald Trump’s appointments has been so far? Generals, generals, generals? Climate change deniers, climate change deniers?
Those seem to be the leading contenders, although there’s always the ever-popular Give Chris Christie a job. While still cooling his heels as governor of New Jersey, Christie made history when a recent Quinnipiac poll showed him with a 77 percent job disapproval rating. None of his predecessors had managed such a feat. We knew he had it in him.
When I want to be cheered up, I always think about Christie, who’s currently lobbying for head of the Republican National Committee. (Next week, the Surface Transportation Board.)
On the downside, we had the heartbreaking saga of Al Gore, who happily emerged from a meeting with Trump this week, telling reporters about the “lengthy and very productive session” he’d had with the president-elect on climate change. It was, Gore added hopefully, a conversation that was likely “to be continued.”
Then Trump turned around and named Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. From Gore’s perspective, this would be like the judge in a divorce case naming the aggrieved husband as marriage counselor.
Pruitt is best pals with the oil and gas industry, and he knows the E.P.A. mainly as an entity to be sued. Under his watchful eye, his state has allowed so much natural gas fracking that Oklahoma now has way more earthquakes than sunrises.
Why do you think Trump went to so much trouble to set Gore up for heartbreak? The most likely answer is that he was only pretending to listen to what Gore was saying about climate change, while he waited for the chance to break in and talk about how tremendous, enormous, historic and stupendous his election victory was. This seems to happen a lot.
Also, it’s perfectly possible that by the time Trump sat down with Gore, he no longer remembered who he was appointing to the E.P.A. Perhaps he didn’t remember that Gore cared about the environment. The key to this man’s success, you understand, is failure to recall anything that happened before his most recent meal.
The selection of a Trump administration has been sort of mesmerizing in its own awful way. Ben Carson will be running Housing and Urban Development — Ben Carson, whose associate recently said he wouldn’t be taking any cabinet job because “he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”
And our new national security adviser is going to be Michael Flynn, a very creepy retired general whose son/former chief of staff has been promoting stupendously false stories about Hillary Clinton’s involvement in a child sex ring at a pizza restaurant.
Trump says he’s discussed his talent hunt with President Obama, who thinks “very highly” of some of the people on his list. Who do you think they are? Probably not the general with the son who tweets about Democratic child abuse. Maybe retired Gen. James Mattis, who Trump wants to make secretary of defense? Mattis is a pretty popular choice, possibly because his nickname is “Mad Dog.”
Do you think if Governor Christie had a nickname, it would help his chances? What about “Growling Gerbil”?
And then there’s secretary of state. Trump seems to be looking at nine million possibilities. By next week you may be in the mix. Think about it. You’re far better qualified than Rudy “Rabid Rabbit” Giuliani. And unlike David Petraeus, I’ll bet you are not currently serving out probation after pleading guilty to sharing highly classified government information with a lover.
Lately, it appears Trump has gone back into the field to drag in a whole new bunch of State contenders. My favorite is Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, a person you have probably never heard of even though he’s been in Congress since the 1980s and is currently head of the prestigious Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.
Rohrabacher is also a surfer and former folk singer who once claimed global warming might be connected to “dinosaur flatulence.” He’s told transition officials that if he gets the nod, he’ll make the terrifying John Bolton his deputy, so the nation can get a crazy warmonger plus a guy who knows how to play old Kingston Trio music.
Also in the running: Rex Tillerson, the C.E.O. of ExxonMobil. Unlike Representative Rohrabacher, Tillerson seems to believe that human beings have had an impact on the climate; he just doesn’t care. (“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”)
Another name being bandied around is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who first ran for the Senate with a famous ad in which he shot a hole in federal environmental legislation.
Do you see a pattern here? Apparently the next secretary of state will be somebody who likes smog. Perhaps this is an opening for Chris Christie. New Jersey has had a lot of environmental problems. Maybe he could invite Trump to a football game for some bonding. They could talk foreign affairs, and then pollute something on the way home.