It's apparent from the composition of Trump's transition team that he values loyalty above all. He has surrounded himself with people who were loyal to him throughout the campaign: Rudy Giuliani, Ben Carson, Newt Gingrich, Peter Thiel, Kellyanne Conway, and Stephen Bannon. (Chris Christie was originally a member, but has been more or less pushed out, reportedly because he's letting a soccer mom go to jail for Bridgegate.)
Trump has even included Eric, Donald, Jr., Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner as part of his transition team as well:
You have to wonder if Barron felt left out.
In any case, it is apparent that the transition team is composed of loyalists who helped campaign for Trump. But whether Trump should appoint Cabinet-level positions based purely on this basis is another matter. Trump owes something to the people who voted for him as well.
The selection of Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff was smart strategy. Priebus represents the establishment, but he will be a good conduit to Congress, whom Trump needs if he is to get anything done.
The appointment of Kellyane Conway and Stephen Bannon as senior strategists is a nod both to their loyalty and to the voters.
Ben Carson has been mentioned as a possible Secretary of Education, but it seems more likely given his background that he gets the Surgeon General position, a fitting reward for his loyalty.
And Trump is reportedly leaning toward Steve Mnuchin, an ex-Goldman guy and head of his campaign finance committee, as Treasury Secretary. This strikes a little bit of a discordant note given that Trump had criticized both Hillary and Ted Cruz for their Goldman ties.
Yesterday it emerged that Rudy Giuliani is the frontrunner for Secretary of State. It's hard not to greet that news with a little bit of dismay. This was supposedly leaked by someone high up in the Trump power structure, and so, as these things do, will probably turn out to be true.
Giuliani was a great US Attorney for the Second District of New York. Despite being of Italian descent, and despite (or because of?) his father having been a low-level gangster, Giuliani fearlessly went after the Mob, obtaining several high level convictions. He also went after Wall Street for insider trading, and obtained a couple of convictions there as well.
He was overrated as a Mayor. Crime levels in the New York City came down drastically under his tenure (from 1994 through 2001), and he deserves some credit for that, but he also benefitted from the nationwide waning of the crack epidemic, which peaked from 1990 to 1992. After 9/11, Giuliani gave a rousing speech, and was photographed with President Bush atop a heap of rubble at the site of the bombing, and in the nationwide surge in patriotism that followed, was hailed as "America's Mayor." (He gave a couple of speeches, that was all.)
Giuliani distinguished himself in the Presidential primaries in 2008 by being the biggest hawk in the field, no mean feat in a field that included eventual nominee John McCain.
One of the reasons that voters were enthusiastic about Trump in the primaries was that he was the first Republican who felt free to say that the Iraq War was a bad idea, and because he wants to cooperate with Russia in Syria. Hillary would have enforced a no fly zone over the country, which could have led to a confrontation with Russia. Obama's policy, up until a few days ago, was to support both anti-Assad and anti-ISIS forces, while Assad and ISIS fight each other; Trump rightly pointed out how illogical that strategy was.
Trump did say that he would try to undo Obama's nuclear pact with Iran. But he has not mentioned wanting to go to war with anyone beside ISIS.
It's hard to believe that Giuliani feels the same.
Giuliani would make a great Attorney General for the exact same reasons he'd be a horrible Secretary of State: he's a belligerent, confrontational guy who's unafraid to go after anybody. In fact, he often seems downright eager to go after people.
If he does get State, Giuliani would theoretically do Trump's bidding. But he'd also have Trump's ear, and on balance, he would push us in the direction of war. That would be a betrayal of the voters who elected Trump.
Let's hope the rumors are untrue.