By Gail Collins – The New York Times.
One of Donald Trump’s big advantages now is that he has so many awful associates. No matter what appointees he foists on us, there’s always another pal who’d have been worse. If he names some federal land-grabbing oilman as secretary of the interior, people are going to sigh with relief and say, “At least it isn’t Sarah Palin.”
And Reince Priebus — until a few days ago Priebus was just the head of the Republican National Committee, a seriously unexciting guy with a hard-to-pronounce name. Then he got picked to be White House chief of staff at the same time Steve Bannon, the loathsome alt-right cheerleader, was named chief strategy adviser. Everyone fell madly in love with Priebus, who was … way less bad.
The whole world is watching the Trump transition — nine weeks and 3,998 appointments to go! If you want to look on the bright side, remember that however horrific you feel about what’s happening in Washington, Chris Christie feels worse.
Farewell, Chris Christie, farewell. We’ve said goodbye to his political career so many times — Bridgegate, the ever-plummeting New Jersey credit rating, the time he chased a heckler down the boardwalk waving an ice cream cone. The doomed presidential race. The humiliating stint standing behind Trump at press conferences, looking as if he’d been hit on the head with a mallet. Then he was exiled to the Trump transition when nobody actually imagined there was going to be one.
Now it’s here, and he’s toast. It appears that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner did not actually forgive and forget that Christie sent his father to jail for tax evasion. Being a prosecutor was one of the more righteous periods in Christie’s life, but it turned out to be more damaging, careerwise, than his habit of screaming at schoolteachers at public meetings.
Tweets aside, we have heard from Donald Trump only once this week — not counting the time he went to eat at the 21 Club in Manhattan and promised one of the other well-heeled diners a tax break. He was more expansive in a “60 Minutes” interview, clarifying his promise to “drain the swamp” if he was elected. Many people thought he was talking about lobbyists. But apparently it was just a passing reference to easing the regulations on inland wetlands.
“That’s the only people you have down there,” he told Lesley Stahl, explaining why his transition team was stuffed with the wealthy insiders he’d run his campaign against. The new transition is trying to sweep them under the rug. But let’s hope all the working-class voters in the Rust Belt understood that the first step to making America great again is the repeal of banking regulations.
Meanwhile, somebody is promoting Ted Cruz’s name for attorney general. Could it be … Ted Cruz? This is one potential nomination that would have no trouble getting confirmed, since the idea of getting Cruz out of the Senate would probably corral a massive vote.
The only person we know for sure is not going to be in the Trump cabinet is Ben Carson, who was briefly rumored as a possible head of the Department of Health and Human Services. But Armstrong Williams, Carson’s business manager, told The Hillthat the politician-neurosurgeon had ruled that out. “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency,” Armstrong explained.
The world stops briefly, and mulls that this man did feel equipped to run for president. Then the world moves on.
But the biggest appointments gossip centered on Rudy Giuliani’s rather manic campaign for secretary of state. Everybody expected Giuliani to be in the running for attorney general, but it turned out he was keen on being appointed to a post for which he had no earthly qualifications whatsoever.
Pop Quiz: If Rudy Giuliani is nominated to a high post in the Trump administration, would you rather have the debate over his confirmation center on:
A) His millions and millions of dollars in speaking fees and work on behalf of everyone from Qatar to the maker of OxyContin.
B) The time he told reporters he was ditching his wife before he told his wife.
C) The fact that on 9/11 New York City had no emergency command center because Giuliani had insisted, over police objections, on putting it in the World Trade Center.
D) His increasing resemblance to a 100-year-old rabbit.
Admit it, you want to talk about D. At 72, Giuliani is the same age as John Kerry, who recently broke the secretary of state record with 1.3 million miles traveled on the job. But some people age badly, and Giuliani has been off his game for decades — he peaked around 1995 and it’s been a deep slide ever since.
Among the other potential candidates for secretary of state are John Bolton, the former United Nations ambassador who is famous for hating the United Nations. Bolton actually makes Giuliani seem … less awful. And there’s always Sarah Palin.