Now that Donald Trump has been certified as the president-elect by the Electoral College, it’s time to focus on some of the odd choices he’s made for his Cabinet. Some have openly opposed the mission of the agencies they’re going to run if they win confirmation, which would seem to disqualify them right from the start.
Most of the attention has focused on Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil CEO, a surprising outsider choice once decorated by none other than Vladimir Putin himself, who is no friend of the United States.
Russia’s aggressive posture in Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Mr. Putin’s brutal suppression of internal dissent must be actively challenged by the U.S. government’s chief diplomat at every turn and in every conceivable forum. “The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, who rightly expressed reservations about the nomination.
And whoever is running the U.S. State Department must also make it a priority to lead international efforts to stop man-made climate change. Anything short of all-out commitment will doom those efforts to failure.
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Mr. Tillerson’s nomination must not be pre-judged. He is a man of exceptional ability and achievement and possesses extensive, hands-on experience in world affairs as a result of ExxonMobil’s global ventures. A strong outsider running the show may be just what Foggy Bottom’s bureaucracy needs.
Yet it is entirely fair and necessary for the Senate to fully examine his views on Russia, climate change and other topics. How will he deal with Cuba? Will he be a forceful advocate for America’s traditional international policy goals? The Senate must find out. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona hit the right note of skepticism: “When he gets the friendship award from a butcher, frankly, it’s an issue that I think needs to be examined.”
About some of the other nominees, though, we are beyond skeptical — and this is a partial list:
▪ Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s an avowed climate-change denier and declared foe of EPA’s “activist agenda.” He’s suggested there’s no evidence to connect water contamination and fracking. He says the Clean Power Act will “significantly” increase electricity prices. Wrong on every claim — and wrong for the job.
▪ Rick Perry to run the Department of Energy. That’s just ridiculous. This is the department he said he wanted to abolish when he ran for president in 2012 (but forgot when it came up during a debate). Mr. Perry refused to implement the Clean Power Plan in Texas when he was governor and sits on the board of the company seeking to build the Dakota Access pipeline. He’s all-in for the oil and gas industry and rejects most regulatory controls. His nomination should be rejected.
▪ Rep. Tom Price to be health secretary. His main credential seems to be an eagerness to dump the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something far less comprehensive. How does that advance the agenda of helping Americans enjoy better lives? It doesn’t, which is why he should not be the government’s top health policymaker.
Yes, elections have consequences. But that doesn’t mean senators should rubber-stamp Mr. Trump’s choices. They owe it to the nation to examine the views of all the nominees carefully and put country above politics by voting No when the consequences of doing otherwise would be disastrous for Americans, and America.