There appear to be two Donald Trump administrations. One is the administration that we can (I think safely) assume was picked by Mike Pence. These are picks that include Betsy DeVos, Nikki Haley, Elaine Chao. The other administration is what we can assume to be the more classic Donald Trump in Wilbur Ross and Stephen Mnuchin.
I’ve written about why Betsy DeVos is a great pick (as someone who works in public education, I am incredibly enthusiastic about what she can bring forward in education reform), and Nikki Haley is perhaps the calmest voice in the room while still being an ardent conservative. Tom Price as HHS Secretary means that all the Democrats’ complaints that Republicans never came up with an alternative to Obamacare are about to be (once again) proven false. Elaine Chao might be a career Cabinet member (as a former Bush Labor Secretary), but her treatment of public and private sector unions is nothing short of inspiring (I will even forgive the fact that her husband is Mitch McConnell).
These would appear to be the picks guided by Mike Pence, himself a pretty good, conservative guy and a reasonable man. He better that anyone appears to understand the strained relationship between the Republican base and the Republican elite, and has worked to try to bridge those two as well as Donald Trump Republicanism (whatever that may be). He would appear to be the biggest voice right now bringing Donald Trump back from the brink.
However, Donald Trump is a powerful personality. If Haley, DeVos, Price, and Chao are the “pros” of the Trump administration, then there are bound to be “cons.” This is where Ross and Mnuchin come in.
Ross is a lifelong New York Democrat. We know this, because he worked on the New York Democratic Committee. Like Trump, he has helped fund Democrats for years. Mnuchin, meanwhile, is a George Soros guy. Like Trump and Ross, he has donated a lot of money to Democrats at the federal level. However, they are both Trump loyalists, and Trump supporters can expect good things along the way. This is how it has always worked in politics, which makes the idea of Trump “draining the swamp” so patently absurd. It is guys like Ross and Mnuchin who have helped make the swamp what it is.
The best we can hope for right now is that Pence’s judgment wins out. There are a lot of spots still left open, and we need to make sure good men and women get those jobs. And, sad to say, many of Trump’s loyalists are not the good men and women we want or need right now.