What Trump’s presidential transition selections tell us
We can learn a lot by looking at the early days of a presidential transition.
In 2008, when Obama appointed a slew of Wall Street insiders, we learned that his administration was unlikely to go after the folks who caused the Great Recession. Eight years after investment bankers sold worthless financial instruments, misled investors and put some 9 million people out of work, only a single bank executive has seen jail time.
If only we had stood up against Obama when he made those appointments.
What can we learn from the early days of the Trump transition?
Steve Bannon is slated to serve as Trump’s chief strategist. During his time as chair of Breitbart News, he steered the already-right-wing “news” organization toward misogyny and racism with stories like “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and had open appeals to white supremacists (who prefer the less racist-sounding term “altright”). When the site’s hate spilled over into social media, one of his writers was permanently banned from Twitter.
Bigotry aside, what kind of government will Bannon push for? “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too,” he told one reporter. “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” This is the man Trump picked to set the administration’s direction.
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is slated to become attorney general. Back when he was up for a federal judgeship, the nominating process revealed a long histor y of racist remarks, mostly about African-Americans. His nomination was defeated 10-8 by the Republi- can-controlled committee. Sessions is now poised to be the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.
Frank Gaffney has been floated as a foreign policy advisor to the Trump transition. Gaffney founded the legitimate-sounding hate group Center for Security Policy, which promotes anti-Islamic conspiracy theories. With no evidence, he first lied about the president being a Muslim, and then about a Congressman and a Clinton aide being Muslim Brotherhood operatives. Gaffney’s crackpot ideas are so offensive that even conservative presses refused to publish his book (he self-published it) and he was banned from the conservative CPAC conference.
People aren’t deplorable, but some people’s ideas are. Judging by Trump’s transition, his administration will feature many deplorable ideas, including the racism, sexism and Islamophobia of Bannon, Sessions and Gaffney.
This transition period is a time for all of us — especially the Trump voters who supported him despite his bigotry — to stand up for the American values of equality and religious tolerance. Dave Kung, Lexington Park