Trump’s Questionable Picks

My previous post was full of praise for a good number of Trump’s cabinet nominations. Proper analysis, though, requires honest scrutiny of picks who may not be as praiseworthy. There are a few.

It took a while for Trump to make a choice for secretary of state, and everyone was waiting for that crucial decision. The job is always considered one of the most significant, as it bears the responsibility of representing the administration to other countries.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, has been chosen to be the next secretary of state. That nomination, though, has already come under fire. The biggest concern for many is the close ties Tillerson has developed with Vladimir Putin.

Russia, in the Putin era, has not been America’s friend. It is an ally of Iran, which has lately reconfirmed its desire to wipe Israel off the map. Russia also has been the most visible backer of Syria’s despotic leader Bashar Assad.

With accusations of Russia’s attempted interference in our presidential election (pretty well established, but not necessarily something that influenced the outcome), Tillerson is a controversial pick.

I have that concern as well. Yet my concerns run deeper.

As head of the Boy Scouts of America, Tillerson led the charge to open the organization not only to boys who claim to be homosexual but to homosexual leaders, thereby changing the entire direction of the Boy Scouts. ExxonMobil also is a prominent donor to Planned Parenthood, apparently unfazed by the 300,000-plus babies who are murdered each year with the help of that organization.

I was gratified to see Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, come out firmly opposed to Tillerson’s nomination. Perkins had visibly lined up the FRC in favor of Trump during the election.

Some will say that those criticisms shouldn’t be part of this process, that the job of secretary of state won’t get Tillerson involved in those issues. That’s not necessarily so. When dealing with other nations, all kinds of policies may be on the table. I don’t want someone with Tillerson’s views representing this nation.

Less controversial, but also questionable, are the nominations of Steve Mnuchin for secretary of the treasury and Wilbur Ross for secretary of commerce.

Mnuchin was Trump’s national finance director for the campaign. He is a lifelong Democrat who spent seventeen years at Goldman Sachs, eventually becoming a partner in the firm.

What’s amazing to me is that for many of Trump’s most fervent backers, Goldman Sachs is the epitome of all evil. Trump himself attacked the firm during the campaign and loved to link Ted Cruz to it because Cruz’s wife, Heidi, used to work there.

Yet I hear crickets now from those who think Goldman Sachs is the focus of evil in the modern world. Trump wants a former Goldman Sachs partner running the treasury department and no one who vilified the firm earlier has publicly criticized the move.

Let’s be honest. Trump never really believed Goldman Sachs was all that bad. He was merely manufacturing outrage to get votes.

What bothers me most about this is the propensity of the most dedicated Trump backers to give him a pass for things they would loudly condemn if others did them. This is close to a cult of personality. Haven’t we had enough of that these past eight years?

Mnuchin may be a fine secretary of the treasury. I will give the benefit of the doubt, but his record certainly bears scrutiny.

Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce designee, is another lifelong Democrat who is an outspoken critic of free trade, which is Trump’s position also. Personally, I favor free trade, so I’m at odds with Trump’s views on that from the start.

As someone who has spent his career buying up and restructuring failing companies, Ross does have vital experience to offer if he truly knows how to bolster commerce in that way. But Trump has another reason for choosing him.

Trump owes Ross a lot. His relationship with Trump goes back decades. Ross helped Trump keep control of his failing Taj Mahal casino in the 1990s by persuading investors not to push out the real estate mogul.

What? Trump, the expert businessman who is great at all he does, needed to be bailed out? Balloon punctured.

Those are the most questionable of Trump’s cabinet picks. All of the ones I’ve highlighted, both positive and negative, over these last two posts, require Senate confirmation. Tillerson, in particular, may face some rough sledding, but Senate Republicans may feel like they have to give Trump what he wants at this point.

There are other appointments Trump has made that don’t have go through the Senate confirmation process. I will deal with those in another post.

A Dismal Performance

President Obama held his first press conference in a couple of months on Monday. It was an impromptu thing, probably dictated by the criticism he’s been receiving lately over his lack of communication with the White House press corps. He’s had time to do interviews with People magazine and Entertainment Tonight, where he was really put on the spot by incisive questions such as “What kind of superpower would you like to have?” but the actual press has been shut out. That’s a little puzzling; the press has been his biggest cheerleader ever since 2008. Well, in truth, they’ve been a bit more than that:

In the paragraph above, I called the White House press corps the “actual” press. That may have been pushing it. The first question directed to Obama was a home run pitch, giving him a chance to comment on the foolish statement made by Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, who fell into a verbal hole over “legitimate rape.” I won’t go into that one; all one has to do is watch the mainstream media to get round-the-clock coverage of Akin’s blunder. The key point here is that it gave the president a wide open door to criticize Republicans.

When one of the corps deigned to address the negative campaign the Obama team was conducting, Mr. Obama was all innocence. No, he hasn’t done any such thing. He’s been issue-oriented—completely. No, no one called Romney a felon. “You can’t just make stuff up,” he solemnly intoned. Very impressive. But it seems relatively few, even among his press followers, could believe that one. He’s making stuff up all the time. And of course he never said Romney was responsible for a woman’s death because Bain Capital closed her husband’s plant. That was the work of a Super-PAC with which he has no connection—except for the fact one of his former White House spokesmen, Bill Burton, runs the PAC. But they don’t coordinate with Mr. Burton. Of course not.

All in all, it was a pretty dismal performance, and probably reveals why he has been avoiding the press for months. You never know if one of those Fox-y types might sneak in and ask something downright impertinent.

The media hasn’t merely covered for Obama directly, but also indirectly by minimizing stories that could damage his views. Take the shooting at the Family Research Council last week as an example. The mainstream news gave it only a slight mention, and even when it did, it chose to ignore the 800-lb. gorilla in the middle of the event:

Be aware of the whitewashing that often occurs. If truth is going to win out this election, we’re going to have to be vigilant.

A Harbinger of Things to Come?

My fear is that the violence is going to escalate, and that Christian organizations are going to be the target. The shooting at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday may be a harbinger of things to come.

You see, the FRC is courageously taking the lead on calling for upholding traditional moral beliefs such as the Biblical definition of marriage. For their stance, they are being classified as a “hate” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and others of like mind. This is the same organization that designated Chick-Fil-A as a purveyor of hatred as well.

The man who entered the FRC headquarters was carrying a Chick-Fil-A bag, pretended to be an intern so he could infiltrate the building, and when questioned by a guard because he seemed suspicious, shouted out that he opposed what FRC stood for, and then began shooting. As you can see from the photo of him when he was taken away by the authorities, there was ample reason for the guard, who was injured during the scuffle, to be suspicious. The man, it turns out, volunteers for an LGBT “community center” in D.C. I wonder how many of those letters in the acronym he claims for himself?

FRC is only standing for what society has always called marriage. Christians who speak out against homosexuality are doing what Christians have done throughout the centuries: identifying a sin, calling upon those who are engaged in the sin to repent, and offering a new life free from the bondage of that sin. That’s not hate; that’s showing the way to true life. It’s an attempt to help people who have succumbed to a sinful lifestyle that separates from God.

Except for fringe groups like the small Westboro Baptist crowd [well, “crowd” is too generous a term], no genuine Christian hates people trapped in homosexuality. Instead, they want to reach out to them and speak the truth in love, seeking to turn them from an activity that has eternal consequences. It’s the Christian pattern for dealing with all sins, and it’s based on what Jesus said needs to be done.

The LGBT “community,” on the other hand, has become nearly hysterical over any disagreement with their lifestyle choice. Of course, they don’t consider it a choice; they claim they are born that way, without any scientific backing for a homosexual gene. They have become adept at classifying anyone who critiques them as “haters.” This is incendiary language that can only breed more incidents like the one at FRC. That’s why I say we may be witnessing the start of a series of such episodes. They hope to silence Christians through intimidation.

Will it work? I’m concerned that far too many evangelicals are already drinking the kool-aid on this issue. Some will be so afraid of speaking up that their voice will be absent just when it is most needed. Others will decide that perhaps the Scriptures are being misunderstood and will take sides with the homosexual agenda because, they say, Jesus loves everyone unconditionally. They will buy into the lie that God made some people homosexual, and that it is as valid as heterosexuality.

The pressure will be even greater if the federal government forces religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriage by threatening to withhold funds to students at evangelical universities, for instance. How many Christian colleges and universities will hold firm in the face of threats like that? Those threats may be coming; more violence is in the offing. The first may be allayed by a Republican sweep in November, yet that very Republican sweep could lead to an increase in the violence.

Here’s a little reminder from the short book of Jude:

I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in . . . ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Contending for the faith is about to become more of a necessity than ever.