Contempt is not a necessary skill
Donald Trump’s selection of Rick Perry to pilot the U.S. Department of Energy is a head-scratcher less because the former Texas governor once called the future president a "toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense," but because of something he infamously forgot.
Perry will forever be linked to his 2011 gaffe in which he could not remember the name of the federal agency he now is likely to head.
"Oops," he said, after failing to recall the Department of Energy, one of three federal agencies he would eliminate if in the White House, along with commerce and education.
Perry has strong ties to the oil industry, including corporate positions on two companies, and is familiar with the extraction of natural resources in a state experiencing a boom in petroleum and natural gas. The federal agency, however, is more than just fossil fuels, fracking and pipelines.
The department is about public service initiatives such as home weatherization and lowering power costs for small businesses; science and innovation in how it relates to climate change; and finding ways for Americans to conserve and reduce energy usage. It’s pretty safe to say these are outside Perry’s expertise – and his appointment will cause an abrupt redesign of the department.
The outgoing energy secretary, Dr. Ernest Moniz, was a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later served as the founding director of the university’s Energy Initiative and Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.
He served as undersecretary of the Department of Energy from 1997-2001. He was responsible for overseeing its science and energy programs and led a review of nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship.
Perry, and many of Trump’s nominees for Cabinet-level positions, seem to have been chosen more because of their contempt for the federal government and less for their ability to effectively function in their appointed role.
Only one of Trump’s picks, Elaine Chao for transportation, has previously run a federal department. Too many of the rest are like The Donald – uber-wealthy businessmen without any background in government or policymaking.
Ben Carson, another castaway from the Republican primary and onetime Trump foe, was tapped as the secretary for Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Carson actively stated he has no experience, and his close friend and onetime spokesman, Armstrong Williams, said the "last thing (Carson) would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency." Trump picked him anyway, and Carson accepted the opportunity.
Trump’s administration is filled with those who have great disdain for the federal government and are taking the approach of Ron Swanson from NBC’s "Parks and Recreation" to systematically sabotage it in order to create a more privatized, libertarian utopia.
This is not conservatism, this is amateur night at the Apollo Theater. Ironically, this continued ineptness of an amateur-run government will likely to lead to more incompetence and mistrust of Washington, D.C., by the same white working-class voters who supported Trump.