It was a good opening week for president-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations, writes Peggy Noonan in the WSJ.
Secretary of Defense: Gen. James N. Mattis
William Cohen, the former Republican senator who became Bill Clinton ’s secretary of defense, introduced and endorsed Gen. James N. Mattis, Donald Trump ’s nominee as defense chief, to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “He has the nickname of ‘Mad Dog’—it’s a misnomer,” Mr. Cohen said. “It should be Braveheart.”
Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson
(Mr. Tillerson) came across as distinguished, calm, informed. In intense questioning, Sen. Marco Rubio was strangely, yippily hostile. “Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?” Mr. Rubio pressed. “I would not use that term,” Mr. Tillerson replied, blandly, but with an expression that allowed you to imagine a thought bubble: You can mess with me, son, but it won’t end well for you. In the end, Mr. Rubio did Mr. Tillerson no harm and himself no good. A few hours in, with his accent and cool demeanor, I realized who Mr. Tillerson was reminding me of: former Secretary of State James Baker.
Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
(Mr. Sessions) was cuffed about in his sessions but emerged relatively unscathed.
CIA Head: Rep. Mike Pompeo,
(Mr. Pompeo) was creditable, composed, informed.
Department of Homeland Security: Gen. John Kelly,
(Gen. Kelly) was introduced by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said: “I would trust him with my life.”
What is heartening, each of Donald Trump’s nominees indicate they would have no problem disagreeing with the incoming president. Mr. Trump’s seems to be surrounding himself with respectful, independent professionals, which “may reassure some of the president-elect’s foes without putting off most of his supporters.” Read more from Ms. Noonan here.
James Mattis confirmation hearing
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