Joe Biden likes to tell the story of how once, as a freshman senator, he assailed Jesse Helms for sabotaging piece of legislation that would have benefited the disabled. He found out later that Helms had adopted a nine-year-old disabled boy nobody else wanted.
“Question a man’s judgment, not his motives,” Biden was told. Words he tries to live by.
I’d like to do that myself, but it would be so much easier if the motives of the Trump appointees weren’t so suspect and unsavory:
Betsy DeVos has spent her entire gold-plated adulthood tearing apart public education and advocating any and every other type. How can we expect her to promote one of the last remaining areas of egalitarianism in this country when she will personally, monetarily, benefit from its demise?
Rick Perry, who once claimed he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy, will now lead the Department of Energy.
Rex Tillerson whose Exxon/Mobil suffered financial losses when sanctions were placed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea, will now serve as Secretary of State where he will be able to tailor Russian-American relations to suit him and his former (wink-wink) company.
Steven Mnuchkin, formerly of Goldman Sachs, will become Secretary of the Treasury. It is difficult for me to imagine someone who helped create the swamp actually draining it, but then Trump’s imaginative skills probably surpass mine.
Tom Price who will lead the Department of Health and Human Services, seems to have no idea of how the new administration will replace the Affordable Care Act, other than to say people will have “access to the coverage that they want and…nobody [will] fall through the cracks.” You can read that statement for the rest of the day and still never know about pre-existing conditions, children on their parents’ plans, Medicaid payments, etc. He doesn’t know. Nobody does.
Trump’s EPA appointee, Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt, has spent most of his energy as attorney general fighting the EPA over the reduction of mercury, arsenic, and other toxins in the air. He’s not sure smog can exacerbate asthma and would like wetlands and streams to protect themselves—without our help.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke does not believe climate change is a hoax, but doesn’t agree that sea levels are rising. There are some island nations in the Pacific who might wish to argue that point, but of course Zinke, from Montana, can’t see them from his house—not the way Sarah Palin could see Russia—nor is he very clear on much of anything. He’s a good man, but he won’t quite take the stand we need. Nobody will.
Joe Biden’s advice may have worked before Trump, and may work afterwards when the “president” is finally removed from office, but for now we need to look at his appointees one by one, and once they are confirmed—and they will be—hold their feet to the fire as much and as often as we can. And if Betsy DeVos is right about an epidemic of grizzly bears attacking unarmed schoolchildren, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. But until that happens, taking Joe Biden’s high road is really going to be a challenge.