Haley Barbour was right.
“People wanted to shoot Washington the bird,” he said recently at the MEC Hobnob. “They thought Donald Trump was the biggest, most magnificent middle finger they could find.”
For many, that’s all that mattered. If Trump delivers on any campaign promises, well, that will just be icing on the cake.
Others are expecting lots of icing. And that’s where the president-elect will be challenged. Talking and proposing are one thing. Getting results is quite another.
Ronald Reagan understood that. So he mixed solid getter-doners into his cabinet and staff along with the requisite political appointees.
Harvard-educated veteran Casper Weinberger had vast government experience as head of the Federal Trade, director of the Office of Management and Budget and secretary of Health, Education and Welfare before Reagan appointed him secretary of Defense.
Harvard-educated veteran Donald Regan served as chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch and vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange before Reagan appointed him secretary of the Treasury.
Yale-educated veteran and quality guru Malcolm Baldridge was chairman and chief executive officer of Scovill Inc. before Reagan appointed him secretary of Commerce.
Princeton-educated veteran James A. Baker was a highly effective political organizer who practiced law and served as undersecretary of Commerce before Reagan chose him as chief of staff. Baker subsequently served as secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and secretary of state under George H.W. Bush.
Names floated so far to be on Trump’s cabinet don’t stack up with Reagan’s choices. Only RNC chairman Reince Priebus as Trump’s chief of staff appears to rise to that level.
The good news is that Trump’s transition team includes a group of serious people looking at key issues. Politico.com reported Mike Rogers is looking at national security, David Malpass at economic issues, Ken Blackwell at domestic issues and Keith Kellogg at defense.
Rogers, a veteran and former FBI special agent, retired after seven terms in the House, where he served as chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence.
Malpass served as deputy assistant Treasury secretary under Reagan, deputy assistant secretary of state under President George H. W. Bush and chief economist at Bear Stearns.
Blackwell served as undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President George H.W. Bush and as mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio’s state treasurer and Ohio secretary of state.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg served as chief of staff for the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and as director of command, control, communications and computers for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After his retirement in 2003, he served as chief operations officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and as a senior official at several defense contractors.
Hopefully, as these experienced leaders look at the issues, they will also get to suggest appointees. They would recommend solid getter-doners, not sycophants.
His appointments will tell if Trump can deliver like Reagan or not.
Bill Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.