Years from now, when people look back at the historic 2016 campaign, presidential election and transition, few will likely remember January 10, 2017 as a crucial day in the continuum. But reality tells us this day will have been more consequential than most others because today marks the beginning of the Senate hearings to confirm the people who will work closest with Donald Trump to “make America great again.”
With that said, no one expects the day – or those to come -- to go smoothly.
Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics reports, “If they (Democrats) can’t prevent Trump from having his Dream Team of players, the opposition party aims to undermine some of the key ones, forcing the new president to spend his political capital defending them early on. The process could also reveal just how much Trump is willing to go to bat for his team.
“Democrats have pushed for additional background information on nominees, such as the submission of tax returns, beyond the traditional paperwork, ethics review, and vetting by the FBI. They argue that Trump’s nominees are wealthier and have less experience in government than is typical, thus requiring greater financial disclosure. If that process unveils damaging details, Democrats believe their cause could be advanced.”
Exactly what “cause” is to be advanced anyway? On the surface the Democrats’ objections have nothing to do with enforcing the laws, which is the heart of what the executive branch is supposed to do. Take Senator Jeff Sessions for example, the nominee for Attorney General.
Sessions spent years as a U.S. Attorney and just over two decades as a senator fighting to ensure that the will of Congress actually results in serving American citizens. His “causes” include enforcing the immigration laws and working to represent the interests of American workers in trade agreements with foreign countries.
For his principled opposition to the current and previous administration’s policies Sessions has been branded as anti-establishment, a bigot and an isolationist by the left and even some in the establishment of his own party.
But it isn’t just Sessions that Democrats are after. Burns reports the minority party will target eight of Trump’s people. “The Democrats’ battlefield is large, encompassing as many as eight designees. Among the top targets are Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Tom Price as head of Health and Human Services, Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Steven Mnuchin for Treasury secretary. Those nominees reflect some of the new administration’s top priorities and their hearings will touch upon some key issues of the day, including Russian hacking, the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, immigration, and the economy.
“Others on the target list include Betsy DeVos for education secretary, Andy Puzder for labor secretary, Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Mick Mulvaney for the Office of Management and Budget.”
Actually, Burns left one out. Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson is almost certain to receive his own Democrat beat-down because he’s a conservative black man who isn’t afraid to speak out against federal programs that don’t work.
Beyond Carson, why are these people being singled out? Are any of them under active criminal investigation (like the recently defeated Democrat presidential nominee) or are they on record plagiarizing speeches (like the outgoing vice president)?
Their “crime” in Democrat eyes is being wealthy…or conservative. Someone like Sessions has received nothing but praise for years from members of both parties, but now that he’s up for confirmation before his own committee (the Senate Judiciary committee, which he chairs), Sessions has suddenly become public enemy number one to the left.
Perhaps because of their desperate circumstances, Democrats are preparing to stall the nominations since they don’t have the numbers to block any of them at current.
Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reports, “Inauguration Day votes could be difficult, … if Democrats employ stalling tactics at the committee level, which could drag out panel votes past the 20th.
“Committees can vote as early as 48 hours after completion of a hearing, but it could take longer if senators submit additional questions, which will require nominees to respond. Democrats can also employ procedural tactics to slow things down.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck “Schumer is demanding additional time to ensure FBI checks are completed, financial records are vetted and potential conflicts of interest are explored for each nominee.”
All in all, we should expect Democrats to put on the kind of show that will please their constituents and donors while failing to achieve anything of value for the process itself. I’m guessing they’ll confirm the non-controversial nominees to make it look like they’re being objective and fair and then delay the rest for whatever reason will stick politically.
In unreasonably delaying the confirmation of Trump’s nominees the minority party is only reaffirming the reason why they lost a winnable election in the first place – they’re all about flash with no substance.
Most Americans are in no mood for games. Time will tell if the will of the people will prevail.
Trump’s Supreme Court nominee gets early boost for his or her confirmation
Even with all the Democrats’ theatrics this week in interrogating Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees during their confirmation hearings, it could be said we “ain’t seen nothing yet” in terms of real fierce resistance to a Trump appointee.
Some are speculating Democrats may even let Trump’s cabinet picks off easy in order to save political capital for the real “winnable” fight to come over confirming Trump’s upcoming Supreme Court designee.
Anticipating that the battle to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia will be especially intense and nasty, some conservative groups are already launching campaigns to try and inch up the “safe vote” total to near the higher 60-vote threshold for ending a Senate filibuster.
Ryan Lovelace of the Washington Examiner reports, “The Judicial Crisis Network will spend $10 million on a new ad campaign pressuring vulnerable Senate Democrats to help confirm Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
“The Judicial Crisis Network, which spent $7 million on ads to help keep the seat created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death empty through the election, is partnering with conservatives to launch a coordinated national campaign for the high court seat. The new ad campaign targets Democratic senators from predominantly red states that Trump won in 2016.”
The Judicial Crisis Network will be joined in the effort by the Tea Party Patriots and America Rising Squared in conducting the campaign, the latter groups assigned with grassroots motivation and research and rapid response duties respectively.
Though not exactly a novel concept, starting early, before Scalia’s successor is even named, will help move public opinion in a positive direction for when the time comes (supposedly in the next two weeks according to Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus). And the good news is there already appears to be widespread public support for the constitutional originalist nominee Trump promised he would deliver many times during the campaign.
Kevin Daley of the Daily Caller reports, “Eighty percent of participants in a new Marist poll said filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court should be an ‘immediate’ or ‘important’ priority for the new administration. The breakdown included 80 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of Independents, and 40 percent of Democrats who characterized a swift nomination as an ‘immediate’ priority.
“Fifty-two percent of respondents said they want justices to interpret the Constitution according to its original meaning, and not based on what they think the ‘Constitution means now.’ Forty percent of respondents disagreed with the proposition. Party affiliation reveals that 78 percent of Republicans, as well as 50 percent of Independents, favored the originalist approach. Only 30 percent of Democrats want the justices to apply an originalist model to constitutional interpretation.”
The survey also revealed protection of religious liberty was extremely important to a large majority of Americans of all political stripes. Here’s an area where Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway will have an especially important role since she’s a pollster at heart.
For their part Democrats have vowed to fight Trump’s Supreme Court nominee with vigor typical of a party desperate to hold on to any shred of the Obama “progressive” legacy. In many respects liberals must see the Supreme Court as their final shot at preserving their most sacred social issues “victories.”
Democrats understand full well they can’t enforce their will at the ballot box or in state legislatures so they need heavy-handed ideological federal judges to make law at the national level, finding “rights” that were never intended to be included in the Constitution. Do you think the Founding Fathers would have included a federal right to same-sex marriages?
Let’s hope the group of red state Democrat Senators will see the writing on the wall and do the right thing and support Trump’s Court nominee. It’s a smart move for them politically as well.
Trump’s management style will give cabinet secretaries a lot of leeway to do what they’re supposed to do
It didn’t take a genius to figure out during the 2016 campaign that Donald Trump isn’t a micromanager. His debate answers often lacked the specificity and depth of detail of his fellow candidates but Trump never seemed fazed by the criticism he received about being vague.
His answer for how he’ll create jobs? “We’re just going to do it.”
After all, the “big picture” is his style. As leader of a vast business empire, Trump hires the best people and provides them with the freedom they need to succeed in their endeavors. His private sector business philosophy will apparently be carried over to the White House as well.
Josh Dawsey and Andrew Restuccia of Politico report, “President-elect Donald Trump plans to give his Cabinet secretaries and top aides significant latitude to run their federal agencies, marking a sharp departure from Barack Obama's tightly controlled management style, according to people involved in and close to the transition…
“People close to the transition say Trump chose largely wealthy business executives and generals in part because he expects them to be decisive — and that he is drawn to people who make decisions quickly and with gusto. One person close to Trump said Cabinet sessions will often feel like board meetings at large companies and that Trump will often give members difficult orders - with little direction on exactly how to get something done — and will show little patience for reasons something can't happen.”
One criticism often leveled at Trump is that he’s a potential “dictator,” but the left thinks every Republican wants to control everything around him. It turns out Obama was the real micromanager, however, a personality fault that hindered him throughout his presidency. By failing to delegate authority Obama strangled any kind of innovation in government.
But anyone who watched Obama’s campaign could have predicted it. Greek columns? Really?
Trump, on the other hand, disdains details and delegates authority easily, relying heavily on Mike Pence and his advisors to implement the “big picture” ideas of his campaign.
I personally know people who’ve had jobs in some of Trump’s enterprises and they described him as a terrific boss to work for – but he’s also very demanding. It’s my impression that Trump doesn’t insist on perfection of results but he won’t accept less than perfection of effort. And he hates excuses. Period.
Trump wants people who work as hard as he does. And he means it when he says he’s doing it all for America. I can only assume Trump’s nominees appreciate the weight of expectations.
Jeff Sessions certainly must understand. And the Justice Department will look like a different place when he takes over as Attorney General.
Byron York of the Washington Examiner writes, “[T]he key questions in confirming Sessions are not about what happened, or didn't happen, in the 1980s. They are about what Sessions would do as attorney general. Crime, policing, imprisonment, illegal immigration — those and many others are big issues on which the Justice Department has taken sometimes controversial stands under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. It's safe to say an Attorney General Sessions would change course…
“Sessions has worked for, or with, or overseen the Justice Department for 40 years. He has watched a number of attorneys general do their job. Recalls one associate: ‘What he used to tell me, when we looked at a Janet Reno or an Alberto Gonzales, was, 'If you want to be Attorney General of the United States, you need to have the backbone to walk into the Oval Office, pound your fist on the desk and say, 'Mr. President, you can't do that,' if what he proposes to do is against the law. And if you don't have that backbone, you don't need to be Attorney General of the United States.'”
Jeff Sessions does have that backbone and there’s little doubt he will stand up to Trump and anyone else who runs afoul of the law under his watch. Crimes will be prosecuted. Sanctuary cities will be eliminated. Immigration laws will be enforced. Criminal aliens will be deported. And most Americans will once again respect federal law enforcement because they know it isn’t being used or restrained as a tool to further some liberal cause.
I can’t help but think all of Trump’s cabinet nominees will act in similar ways.
At last, America will have an accountable government again where federal departments execute laws and public servants simply do what they’re supposed to do.
What a concept.