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Posted: December 17, 2016

Cabinet picks bear an ominous message

Gerry Warner“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

If one can take anything out of the President Elect Trump’s cabinet picks so far, only one conclusion can be reached – head for the exits or crawl into a deep cave, because the next four years aren’t going to be pretty.

What else can be said about a US president cozying up to possibly the most dangerous man in the world? That, of course is Vladimir Putin, the steely-eyed president of Russia and former KGB chief, who Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain describes as a “butcher, a murderer and a thug.”

But that’s what Trump did when he named ExxonMobil oil executive Rex Tillerson secretary of state in charge of US diplomacy. Tillerson has been chummy with Putin for years, so much so, that in 2013 Putin presented him with an “Order of Friendship Award,” the highest award Russia can give to a foreigner. Yet no less than the CIA says Putin was personally involved in penetrating the security wall around the US election in order to help Trump win. With “friends” like that who needs enemies? I guess now we know what Trump meant when he said the election was “rigged.”

But Tillerson is only one of several bizarre Trump cabinet picks. Many heads swiveled far to the right when Trump announced alt-right member and white nationalist Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, the man whom a scathing Bloomberg Business Week article described as “the most dangerous political operative in America.”

You think this is hyperbole? Listen to Bannon’s own words in an interview with The Daily Beast in late 2013. “I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.” And you thought Karl Rove was scary.

And it doesn’t end with Bannon. Trump has always been a climate change denier and in one of his daily tweets called global warming “a Chinese hoax” to put a damper on American industry. So whom does he appoint to head the Environmental Protection Agency? Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, an evangelical fundamentalist known for fighting federal environmental regulations under the guise of “states’ rights and described by the New York Times as a “puppet of polluters.”

Then there’s former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s appointment to head the Energy Department, an agency he once said should be eliminated and now he’s in charge of it! Perry’s also another climate change denier, who calls scientific evidence on the issue “a contrived phony mess.”

But surely a pattern is emerging here. As the world knows now, Trump doesn’t think. He tweets and soon there’ll be a president whose biggest policy decisions will be expressed in no more than 140 characters. Can 140 characters bring peace to the Middle East, put blue-collar workers back to work, restore the American economy to its former heights, reverse climate change, build a wall on America’s southern border, stare China down, stop the growing ascendancy of Putin or put Hillary in jail? Of course, I’m being a tad factious here, but we’re entering unchartered territory with a Trump presidency.

Sensing they were a nation in decline, Americans craved change in the election and never was an election craving answered more successfully than Trump’s hollow slogan “to make America great again.” But is a Wall Street billionaire, real estate flipper, discharged bankrupt and reality TV star the change agent that millions of Americans say they desperately need?

In the next four years – or less – I think we’re going to find out. Will Trump emerge as a new messiah or as another political charlatan and rogue Commander-in-Chief? Judging by his cabinet picks so far, I can only conclude the latter.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist.

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