If you speculated about future Trump appointments this past October and you had Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Sean Spicer as press secretary, Ronna Romney as head of the RNC, Senator Dan Coats as the director of national intelligence, and Reince Priebus as chief of staff, please call me with your Super Bowl pick ASAP.
Part of the reason the above choices were not expected was that there were people who were openly campaigning for each of those jobs who were regular surrogates for the Trump campaign.
One of the seemingly valid criticisms of Donald Trump was his supposed inability to accept constructive criticism. He surrounded himself with sycophants who reassured him constantly of his greatness.
But you don’t have to love every single one of his cabinet and top appointment picks to agree the administration is refreshingly free of such people—maybe even less than usual.
So let’s look at the Trump surrogates the president-elect pass over for jobs in the administration.
6. Mike Huckabee
Huckabee stands in here for every evangelical “leader” who poo-poohed the Billy Bush tape as in the realm of normal behavior, after getting on their high horses about Bill Clinton’s attitudes toward women.
But unlike Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr., Huckabee was in the discussion for an administration job and visited Trump Tower during auditions—and was talked about for the next five minutes before being rejected. (Though his daughter landed a White House advisor role.)
As for his old job, even with Megyn Kelly leaving a hole, it’s hard to see where he fits into a new Fox lineup.
5. Corey Lewandowski
Could it be the revenge of Michelle Fields?
If Donald Trump in his heart of hearts thought Corey Lewandowski was a victim of the lyin’ media, it seems like some kind of White House advisor role would have been carved out.
Lewandowski gave way to Paul Manafort who gave way to Kellyanne Conway in the campaign manager role. And while at the time naysayers thought it was re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, it proves to have been Trump making the exact moves he needed to make at the time.
And putting Lewandowski in a White House senior advisor role doesn’t seem to be what the president-elect thinks he needs at this time.
But don’t cry for Corey. Having run even part of a successful presidential campaign is a rare qualification (Susan Estrich is still living off running a losing one—and, by the way, is now Roger Ailes’ lawyer.) Lewandowski’s new consulting firm will make loads of cash.
4. Katrina Pierson
While the blatant who-are-you-going-to-believe-me-or-your-lying-eyes? approach may have served the early Trump campaign well, it was smart of the president-elect to go with the more measured, if a bit dull, Sean Spicer for his White House press secretary.
Not to mention, Pierson has a pretty strange past of savaging people she formerly praised as saviors (even by political standards), and a very odd history of smacking the Catholic Church (wondering if they actually believe Jesus is the founder of their organization, as one example) while praising Malcolm X over the “too moderate” Martin Luther King Jr.
Spicer is known as a hard worker, while Pierson’s history before Trump suggests more of a bandwagon jumper.
Reports say that Pierson will be the communications director for a new pro-Trump organization similar to Obama’s Organizing for—whatever-it-is-this week. Seems about right. OFA was very active, but even though I get the emails for fun, I couldn’t tell you who was in charge. Pierson will not be the voice of the Trump administration.
Some might argue that Laura Ingraham deserves mention here. I disagree. Ingraham is a true believer, having latched onto the Pat Buchanan school of nationalist, populist, anti-trade conservatism years ago. There is no indication that she was desperate for a White House job, or that it would be an advantage for her to take one. I have my disagreements with her, particularly the daft campaign to unseat Paul Ryan and her embrace of protectionism, but they are disagreements in principle.
3. Rudy Giuliani
This is to by no means suggest that Rudy Giuliani is not a laudable American. At the height of the Black Lives Matter chaos, he was such a terrific voice for law and order that I not only wondered if he might run for president, I wondered if I might support him.
And obviously, his service on 9/11 was indispensable to the nation.
But Senator Jeff Sessions got the job that Rudy was most suited for (at least at the cabinet level) and his ill-disguised campaign to be secretary of state was just weird.
America’s mayor probably didn’t help his public status much with his my-candidate-right-or-wrong approach either—as all of the examples in his article point out, that wasn’t necessarily Donald Trump’s first criteria for his recent selections. Who knew? Maybe just a touch of constructive criticism would have made him a more valuable asset, by preserving his own status.
There are lots of big things Rudy could do in the federal government, most of them having to do with law enforcement. Maybe when James Comey’s term is up?
2. Newt Gingrich
After openly campaigning to be the vice presidential pick, and being rumored for nearly every top cabinet position since, Newt Gingrich looks to be relegated to sitting in for Donald Trump as Sean Hannity’s most frequent guest.
But you have to give Newt his due. The former MVP of passing NAFTA still seems to think the president-elect can do no wrong, and is doing everything he can to make us think this whole Trump Movement thing was at least partially his idea.
To give him credit, Newt also had a few moments of constructive criticism along the way (after Pence was chosen, coincidentally), but he was soon back in the spin room.
Gingrich has proven in the past to be a very good revolutionary, but an awfully poor administrator. You have to give Trump props for noticing.
1. Chris Christie
No one, and I mean no one, has ever suffered more because of how he backed a winner than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
On the other hand, has a former presidential candidate ever gone from blasting a guy the day before yesterday (for a day in between, he decided Marco Rubio was the Great Threat to the Republic) to staring at him like Nancy Reagan adoring Ronnie from the box seats at a moment’s notice?
Christie quickly became a go-fer punchline, and his every move seemed to confirm it. The last straw was his removal as the transition team head, and it wasn’t because he was in line for a job.
Christie’s tanking approval ratings in New Jersey, and the continuing stink of Bridgegate—the weirdest political scandal ever—make one wonder if he has any kind of political future.