According to multiple media reports, President-elect Donald Trump will nominate former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy.
This keeps with the Trump administration theme of appointing critics of various departments to head them. Trump chose Betsy DeVos for the Department of Education–she’s a firm believer in local school choice and an opponent of Common Core. He picked Scott Pruitt, a lawyer with a history of suing the agency he will oversee, to run the EPA.
As a candidate, Perry advocated eliminating the DOE, which, among other things, manages America’s nuclear material stockpile and certifies our nuclear weapons. Memorably, in a 2011 candidate debate, Perry forgot the name of the agency Trump tapped him to run.
Ahh, 2011 seems an eternity ago, when Perry and Mitt Romney sparred in a friendly, even jovial manner. Sigh.
“I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education, and — what’s the third one there? Let’s see,” Perry said during a Republican presidential primary debate in November 2011.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who became the GOP presidential nominee in 2012, suggested the Environmental Protection Agency as an option.
When pressed by moderator John Harwood to name the third agency, Perry said, “The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
Perry said later in the debate he meant to say Energy, but the gaffe became known as Perry’s “oops” moment.
One benefit of having so many enemies running federal agencies they plotted to defenestrate: Perry, DeVos and Pruitt will certainly get an understanding of how those places run, and separate the sheep from the goats, as it were. Instead of eliminating the agencies, kicking and screaming, they might actually be able to begin fixing the partisan, clubby, shut-up-or-get-out attitudes prevailing there on third-rail progressive topics like climate change data and religious freedom.
The bad side: Those very embedded interests running Energy, Education, and EPA will do all they can to throw pies, mud and bovine excrement in the faces of their new bosses. For sure, Perry and the others are in for a huge challenge.