“I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I’m in a Cabinet meeting.” — Pres. Ronald Reagan
I have been giving this some thought, off and on, for many months, but with the recent announcement from the Cruz campaign of his potential running-mate, I decided I may as well go on record with my choices for a “White House Dream Team” — i.e., President and his (or her) Cabinet.
President: Sen. Ted Cruz
Vice President: Carly Fiorina
I guess that first one isn’t really much of a surprise for those who have read my earlier posts about the candidates or for my Facebook friends who have seen my posts there. Early on, I favored Gov. Scott Walker and also considered a couple others. But, shortly after the Republican field began to shrink, I honed in on Cruz as the strongest, most conservative candidate with a good chance of winning. Nobody’s perfect, but I think most of the accusations against him are either greatly exaggerated or pure bunk. I honestly think Cruz would make a great POTUS; he’s the one that has the best chance — within the limitations of Executive Branch authority — of restoring security, prosperity, and liberty to the United States.
It took me a little longer to decide on a good V.P. choice, but Fiorina was always in the running, and I finally picked her a few weeks ago. (Honest. I did.) You may remember that she was in my Top 5 early on. Admittedly, there were a couple issues from her past that bothered me, but nothing insurmountable. (For example, believe what you will about her executive record, but she clearly operates with more integrity — simply, a stronger ethical foundation — than does Donald Trump.) I think Fiorina makes a great partner for Cruz, both because of what they have in common — from a mutual love & respect for the Constitution to their shared ability to communicate conservative principles & solutions — and what additional experiences and attributes Fiorina brings to the ticket and will bring to the White House. Also, like Cruz, Fiorina is *not* an arrogant, thin-skinned narcissist, whose idea of “acting Presidential” includes whining, name-calling, and insulting how his/her opponents eat.
Part of the President’s authority is to appoint what Article II calls the “principal Officer in each of the executive Departments” and “Heads of Departments”. These have become known collectively and officially as the “Cabinet of the United States”. George Washington only had four, but the current group (which now includes the Vice President) numbers sixteen. Now, some have argued, and I tend to agree, that the Executive Branch is bloated and needs a bit of restructuring. (Read Andrew Linn’s great ideas about this in his article, “It’s Painful, But Somebody’s Gotta Do It: Restructuring the Executive Branch”.) This includes the reduction or elimination of a few of the current Executive Departments. For example, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs should be folded into the Dept. of Defense. The Dept. of Education and Dept. of Energy can simply be disbanded, since education should be the responsibility of the states and municipalities, and any worthwhile DoE offices & laboratories can be moved under the Dept. of the Interior. Others have recommended eliminating the Depts. of Commerce, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development, though I am less certain about those.
That said, while I’m sure there are *many* worthy candidates that I am unaware of, here are my Cabinet suggestions:
Sec. of State: Amb. John Bolton
o Bolton is or has been, among other things, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney, and is involved with several politically conservative think-tanks and policy institutes, including currently being a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He may be blunt and sometimes controversial, but he knows and understands the enemy, and he’s no pushover. I greatly respect him and always listen to what he has to say.
Sec. of Treasury: Comm. Michael Williams
o Though he more recently served as Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, Williams served for many years as Texas Railroad Commissioner (which regulates oil, gas, coal, etc.), Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement at the Dept. of the Treasury, and as Special Assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh at the Justice Dept. He is a solid conservative with a great record and previous experience at multiple departments, state and federal.
Sec. of Defense: Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal (Ret.) or Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (Ret.) or Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret.) or Lt. Col. Oliver North (Ret.)
o Obviously, I can’t decide. But, a retired, senior military officer seems like a natural for this position and makes a lot more sense than having a physicist or lawyer in charge. These four gentlemen have all served their country with distinction, and they all seem to have a much better handle on the threats to national security and how to engage & defeat them than anyone in the DoD or White House now does.
Attorney General: Rep. Trey Gowdy
o The A.G. is, of course, head of the Dept. of Justice. Thanks largely to his dogged work as Chairman of the House Benghazi Committee, but also his consistently conservative stances on legislation, Gowdy’s relatively short time in Congress has earned him a lot of respect from those on the Right and enmity from the Left. Before that, he had a pretty impressive record as an attorney, both private practice and federal. He is a strict constructionist, and he has no patience for hypocrites or for those who twist the law or the facts to further an activist agenda. He is a person of strong conviction and moral integrity. We desperately need a man (or woman) like that as the chief law enforcement officer and chief lawyer of the United States government.
Sec. of the Interior: Gov. Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich(?)
o The Dept. of the Interior is “responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land [i.e., except for that land managed by the Agriculture department’s U.S. Forest Service] and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native American, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, territorial affairs, and insular areas of the United States.” Perry had to deal with a lot of that stuff when he was Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Lt. Governor, and then Governor. Gingrich is mostly known for his long stint in the U.S. House of Representatives, including 4 years as Speaker. But, he has also been very interested and involved in conservationism, even co-writing a book titled, A Contract with the Earth.
Sec. of Agriculture: Rep. Steve King
o As a Congressman from Iowa’s 4th District, King is very familiar with the issues of agriculture, conservation, and energy. (I guess he might be an alternative for Sec. of the Interior, too.) As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, he helped write the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (aka the Farm Bill). He seems to have a handle on this stuff and would be a pretty good fit. However, the department could be eliminated — or, at least, greatly reduced — since many of its pieces fit as well or better under the Dept. of Interior or Dept. of Commerce. Speaking of…
Sec. of Commerce: Newt Gingrich
o I didn’t have a candidate for this position, until I started writing this up, and I realized he was right in front of me (so to speak). Assuming he isn’t begging for the Interior job, I’d like to see Gingrich in this one. The Dept. of Commerce is tasked with “promot[ing] job creation and improved living standards for all Americans by creating an infrastructure that promotes economic growth, technological competitiveness, and sustainable development.” This seems right up Newt’s alley, and I think he’d be phenomenal at it. Check out his books — e.g., To Renew America, Winning the Future, Real Change, Breakout — to see what I mean.
Sec. of Labor: Gov. Scott Walker or Gov. Chris Christie
o We all know the battles Walker has had with labor unions since he’s been governor, as has Christie. Both of these guys are not afraid to take on the entrenched union lobbies, the bullies and the unethical practices. At the same time, they aren’t afraid to work with unions to come to fair and reasonable solutions. That’s the kind of person who needs to head the Labor Department.
Sec. of Health and Human Services: Dr. Ben Carson or Dr. Rand Paul or Dr. John Goodman
o The mission of the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to “enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans… by providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services.” That’s a pretty tall order. As always, the department needs someone in charge who has a good understanding of the various health and related issues, as well as conservative solutions for addressing them. You are probably familiar with Carson and Paul, so you can understand why I though of them. Goodman is a libertarian economist, the founder and former CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), and is currently President/CEO of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research. He has written against Obamacare, including a book titled, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, and has been called the “father of Health Savings Accounts.” Bobby Jindal is another excellent choice, but I have another position in mind for him (see below).
Sec. of Housing and Urban Development: Robert Rector
o If you aren’t familiar with Rector, he is a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Most of his interest and expertise is on poverty issues, though he also researches and writes on immigration and abstinence. He has written extensively about wealth & poverty and was one of the key architects of the landmark welfare reform legislation signed by President Clinton — i.e., the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). He also served a stint as a commissioner of the Millennial Housing Commission. I have read a few of his articles, and this guy is incredibly smart and has the facts & statistics to back up his observations and proposed solutions. Rector would be a great asset for a Cruz administration on these issues.
Sec. of Transportation: Rep. Tom Graves
o Why Graves? He has been championing the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) for years, so I figure he is passionate about the subject and knows his stuff. Among other things, the bill is “a plan to reform the bankrupt, messy, and unfair federal highway program into an efficient, locally controlled system that improves the quality of life for every driver and commuter in America while reducing gas taxes and increasing spending on highways at home. The bill transfers almost all authority over federal highway and transit programs to the states over a five-year period.” So, if TEA gets passed, Graves would be working himself out of a job; but, I’m sure he’d be fine with that.
Sec. of Energy: n/a (the DoE s/b folded into the Interior Dept.)
Sec. of Education: Gov. Bobby Jindal or Condoleezza Rice
o Assuming this department isn’t eliminated altogether, I think Jindal would be a great choice to lead it. Prior to serving two terms as governor of Louisiana, and three years in the House of Representatives, Jindal was Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation under President George W. Bush. Before that, he was appointed president of the University of Louisiana System at the age of 28. Before that, he was appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals at the age of 24. Rice, on the other hand, was a professor of political science at Stanford University, as well as serving as Provost, prior to her time in the Bush administration. Afterward, she returned to teaching at Stanford and is now a director of the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Global Center for Business and the Economy. I have another position in mind for her, but I can definitely see her doing some good in this one.
Sec. of Veterans Affairs: n/a (the VA Dept. s/b folded into the DoD)
o This may be an obvious statement, but this department needs a strong leader who understands security issues (from illegal immigration to terrorism), including properly identifying and neutralizing threats. Since leaving Congress, where he served on the House Armed Services Committee, Lt. Col. West has been a TV commentator and is currently CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). I thought of West because he is the former military officer that I am most familiar with, and he has been very vocal against the security & military policies of the Obama administration. Any of the other three mentioned for Sec. of Defense would probably be a good choice, too, though. Alternatively, Rice has served as both National Security Advisor and Sec. of State, so she is definitely familiar with the issues and how much of “the system” works. She’d be great, but as I said, I also have another position in mind for her. (More on that later.)
So? Whaddayathink of my choices? Some are more conservative than others, of course. But, it’s probably good to have a mix along the generally “conservative” spectrum. In the end, though, it is the President who sets the tone and agenda for the departments, and I am confident that Ted Cruz is the right man for that job.
In a future post, I will propose some names for a few other important posts in the Executive Branch. Stay tuned…