We all remember Rick Perry’s “oops” moment from his 2012 campaign. He famously forgot the third governmental department he intended to get rid of, the Department Of Energy. Now, 5 years later, Trump is looking for people to fill cabinet positions and he seems to be using the method Michael Che describes as “You know what would be hilarious”. In Trump’s view, the best person for the Secretary of the Department of Energy is the person who wanted to eliminate the department and then couldn’t remember it.
Earlier this week, we learned that when Rick Perry accepted Trump’s offer to be Energy Secretary, he was under the impression that the job would entail being an ambassador for the oil and gas industry. It was only in the days following his accepting that he learned the Energy department is primarily responsible for the management of nuclear weapons and nuclear waste. During his confirmation hearing this week, Perry made a statement saying that he regrets the suggestion to eliminate the department:
“My past statements, made over five years ago, about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking. In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”
Let’s recap. In 2011 Rick Perry recommended eliminating a department whose primary purpose, he has now admitted, he didn’t understand until just this week. A few weeks ago when Trump asked Perry to lead the department, Perry accepted while still not understanding the Department’s mission and still believing that it was unnecessary and Trump asked somebody to lead the Department who has no understanding of the Department. And now that Perry is educated about what the Department does, he regrets his plan 5 years ago to eliminate it.
That neatly sums up the early days of the Trump Presidency, and indeed, the current state of Republican politicians. All too happy to make a political decision based on what they believe – until they are educated about the facts and then are inclined to think differently. Good for Perry for being able to come around, even though it was initially only motivated by getting a job. Now if all of the Republicans in office could follow Perry’s lead and learn the facts behind all matters being considered, we’d have much more productive debates.
(Note that this revelation about Perry’s recent education about what the DoE does changing his prior view, where apparently he didn’t know reinforces my point in my prior post about how Conservatives make decisions based on some personal faith rather than on facts. In this case, it was Perry’s belief in small government that helped him reach that decision to eliminate without ever learning the facts.)