Monday, November 21, 2016

Will the GOP Senate confirm?

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     President-elect Trump has started to fill key cabinet and White House positions.  Thus far, he has designated Alabama US Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Lt. General Mike Flynn as National Security Advisor(which does not require Senate confirmation), and Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo as CIA Director. Those come on the heels of his appointing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus White House Chief of Staff, and Steve Bannon, his campaign manager, to be his chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House. 
     When Trump announced his picks, he was immediately criticized by the right and left.  The left leaning New York Times called his picks, “embarrassing” and Republicans on the right said the picks are too ‘establishment.’  Just who are these people and are they qualified for the position? Here is a quick bio on each of the appointments thus far:
     First, Senator Jeff Sessions, Attorney General-designate:  He is an Eagle Scout, a former U.S. Attorney and Alabama Attorney General.  Sessions, 69, was elected to the United States Senate in 1996, where he is considered to be most of the most conservative members in the chamber.  Sessions is a fierce advocate for securing America’s borders and opposes illegal immigration.  He has three children and six grandchildren and lives in Mobile, Alabama.
     Second, Lt. General Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor:  He is a Rhode Island native and a registered Democrat.   He retired from the Army in 2014, after 33 years of service.  At the time Flynn was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.  He says he was forced out because he wouldn’t stop criticizing the Obama administration’s laissez-faire policy toward Islamic terrorism.  Flynn, 57, wrote a book saying he believes the United States is more at threat now from Islamic terrorism than prior to the 9/11 attacks.  He has been widely criticized for making a speech in Russia where Vladimir Putin was in attendance and Flynn was seated at his table.  He has expressed conflicting positions on abortion.  He is married to his high school sweetheart.
     Third, Congressman Mike Pompeo, CIA Director- designate:  Pompeo, 52, graduated first in his class from West Point and then went to Harvard and got his law degree.  He was editor of the Law Review at Harvard.  He served in the military five years.  He started and sold an aerospace company and was President of Sentry International, an oilfield equipment company, prior to being elected to Congress.  Pompeo is considered to be one of the most conservative members of the House.  He is pro-life, strong on the second amendment and opposes the Affordable Care Act.  He and his wife have one child.
     Fourth, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff:  Priebus, 44, has served as Chair of the RNC since January 2011.  He went to the University of Wisconsin for his undergraduate and the University of Miami for his law degree.  Priebus served as the Chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party and General Counsel for the Republican National Committee prior to being elected Chair of the RNC.  He is strongly pro-life.  He and his wife, Sally, have two children.  Priebus is Greek Orthodox.
     Fifth, Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist:  Bannon served as CEO of the Trump campaign.  He got his undergrad from Virginia Tech, his MBA from Harvard, and a Masters in National Security from Georgetown.  Bannon, 63, served in the Navy for seven years, and then went into investment banking, where he was quite successful.  He negotiated a piece of the Seinfield series as part of his commission- not bad.  He also was a producer in Hollywood.  Bannon, who is divorced, has been married three times and has three children.
      Trump’s appointees are more than qualified.  They have the education and experience to do the job assigned.  Critics of the appointments should understand one simple fact; Trump won the election and elections have consequences.  Just as the country moved to the left when Obama was elected in 2008, it will likely lurch a little to the right under Trump.  Trump’s first hurdle in governing will be getting his appointments confirmed.  Will the Senate GOP caucus hold and approve?  We shall see.    

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