Low On Energy?

By some measures the pinnacle of my business career was reached in a privately held company. My friend owned it and I was operationally in charge. All I had to do was call him, discuss what I wanted to do, get his approval and it was a done deal. In reality most of the time he didn’t want to be bothered and gave me a free rein; that is what he paid me for and I appreciated his confidence. Donald Trump is about to learn the many differences between a private company where you spent your adult life as the boss’s favorite kid or the boss and running the federal government. He does seem to have already learned one lesson. Let’s explore.

Several days ago (this article is being written well in advance of publishing) it was reported that Trump had selected former Texas Governor Rick Perry as his nominee to be the next Secretary of Energy. This nomination is simultaneously mind boggling and right in line with other Trump nominations to date.

Perry succeeded George W. Bush as Governor of Texas. He was basically unknown to the national press and the word coming out of Texas was that if you thought Bush was a dimwit wait to you get a load of Perry. It proved to be accurate.

Perry’s moment of fame came on November 9, 2011 during a Republican primary debate. It is his famous “oops moment”. In response to a question Perry was attempting to name the three Departments he would shutter if elected President in 2012. He mentioned Commerce and Education and then drew a blank finally replying, “Sorry, oops.” That moment solidified his reputation as not being very bright and sealed his fate to being an also ran in 2012. He came back briefly in 2016 complete with his “smart glasses” but never really got anywhere. He was yesterday’s news and not a very good “article” at that.

The “forgotten” agency was the Department of Energy. The very department Trump has nominated him to run. This is another “atheist for Pope” situation. There is political genius to Trump’s move. Perry is a longtime Republican Governor from a state they desperately need to keep red, he supported Trump, he has ties to big oil (deep pockets they need to keep happy), and is in need of a job. Furthermore, Perry doesn’t believe in the agency Trump is asking him to run so he won’t make waves or interfere with policy dictated to him. It’s like having the local precinct police Captain on your payroll (an old organized crime tactic). In this case it is even better because Trump will be paying Perry off with taxpayers’ and donors’ money. Trump is has much experience at spending other people’s money!

The patterns of drill, baby, drill and don’t enforce regulations are very apparent in Trump’s picks to date. This is merely another in a series of moves. This is essentially the modus operandi of Mitch McConnell’s longtime scam. Offer financiers a backup plan for getting what they want. If you can’t get the legislation through you control the “cop on the block”.

Here is another dangerous factor to consider: this is another agency that Republicans have traditionally wanted to erase (like most of the progress in America since early 1860’s). When you know your job isn’t part of the big boss’ plan to the point that he appoints someone who is out to gut your agency, how are you supposed to be motivated to do a good job? In fact this is the agency where his transition team engaged in a witch hunt. Take it a step further: how is the Department of Energy supposed to recruit the best and the brightest to its ranks and that of the ranks of its outside consultants?

Trump famously accused Jeb Bush of being a low energy candidate; I’m stating Trump is low on the Department of Energy’s true role (which he probably doesn’t understand anyway).

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