White House

Steven G. Calabresi: Trump's got the best incoming cabinet of any president since Lincoln

The debate continues on 'Overtime'

 

I am in the lucky position of being someone who has both a lot of conservative friends and a lot of liberal friends. I value these friendships greatly both because I like my friends and because I benefit from hearing both sides off all issues.

Right now many of my liberal friends are in a state of near hysteria over President Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election.  

My friend Erwin Chemerinsky sincerely believes that Donald Trump is anti semitic even though his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism, Trump has given a key White House appointment to his Jewish son-in-law with whom he is very close, and Trump has adopted the most pro-Israel foreign policy of any president in American history.  

Martha Minow, the Dean of the Harvard Law School, is worried Trump will interfere with academic independence even though he has said exactly nothing that would suggest to anyone that he plans to do that. 

Trump’s cabinet is better than any of Ronald Reagan’s cabinets or of the cabinets of those who have served in the presidency since Reagan left office in 1989.

Liberals are hysterical over Trump’s ban on immigration from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and the Sudan while overlooking the fact that there are violent civil wars going on in those countries.  The vast majority of Muslim countries are not affect by Trump's ban including:  Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and many parts of North Africa including the Northern half of Nigeria.

I would have excluded Green Card holders and Iraqis who helped us during thee war as troops or spies from Trump’s ban, and I assume the ban will be amended to address these concerns, but the bottom line is that anyone who visits these war zones including American citizens should be interviewed by a customs officer to find out what the purpose of their visit was before they are allowed back into the United States.

I have pointed out to these liberal friends that there are all sorts of checks and balances built into the Constitution that would prevent Trump from doing to Muslims or Hispanics what President Franklin D. Roosevelt did with Japanese-Americans during World War II, which was to round them all up and put them in a concentration camp – another worry a liberal friend has expressed to me.

It is time to look at President Trump’s actual record of accomplishments since he was nominated by the Republican party. Trump picked a superb mainstream conservative to be his running mate.

Former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is so good that even my liberal friends think he won the vice presidential debate last fall with Democratic rival Tim Kaine.  

Trump made a truly inspired choice when he picked Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State. Tillerson has tons of experience in dealing with foreign leaders including Vladimir Putin with whom we want to be very careful not to stumble into a nuclear war in the way the world stumbled into World War I in 1914.

Trump’s pick of Steven Mnuchin to be Secretary of the Treasury is also brilliant. Mnuchin understands supply side economics and the way in which real tax reform could jump start our largely stalled economy.

Trump’s pick of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General is also outstanding. Unlike Bobby Kennedy, who was President Kennedy’s brother, or John Mitchell, who was President Nixon’s campaign manager, Senator Sessions is a man of independent accomplishments one of which is 22 highly successful years in the U.S. Senate during which he worked with Senator Ted Kennedy to pass a bill providing relief to crime victims. I think Jeff Sessions is the best pick any president has made since President Reagan appointed Ed Meese.

Betsy DeVos is in my opinion the best pick for Secretary of Education in the history of the Department of Education.  Her support for school choice and vouchers is essential if we are ever to repair our failing public schools.

Rick Perry is a superb pick for Secretary of Energy. He was hugely successful as Governor of Texas in boosting that state’s oil and gas production while also making Texas first in the nation as the state that generates wind power. He is an ideal pick for those like me who favor an "all of the above" approach to energy production. Cheap energy leads to manufacturing growth, which leads to permanent and good paying jobs. Perry’s knowledge of the nuclear fuel industry will stand him in good stead as the custodian of all our nuclear missiles.

The pick of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to be ambassador to the United Nations is yet another very wise Trump choice. Haley is first East Indian-American to serve in that job, and she reflects both the excellence and the diversity that characterizes the United States.

I could go on and on, but all the other cabinet picks are of very high quality and share my own conservative outlook.  President Donald Trump has appointed the best incoming cabinet of any president since Abraham Lincoln’s famous Team of Rivals in 1861.

Most recently, on January 31, President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court in an absolutely brilliant and superb move.

Judge Gorsuch is an originalist and a textualist like Justicee Scalia, who he would replace, but he is much les likely to put bitter language in dissenting opinions that Justice Kennedy hates.  Gorsuch clerked for Kennedy who loves him!  

If Gorsuch is confirmed, as he deserves to be, it will mark the first time in U.S. history that a Supreme Court justice will have served on the bench with one of hiss law clerks.

Trump’s cabinet is better than any of Ronald Reagan’s cabinets or of the cabinets of those who have served in the presidency since Reagan left office in 1989.  

His Supreme Court nominee is as good as was Justice Scalia, who was Reagan’s best Supreme Court appointment out of four tries.  Donald Trump is a genius at hiring highly talented and well credentialed officials.  

It is high time that liberals give Trump credit for what he has done since he was elected president and stop tilting at windmills about various horrible things Trump might do, but which I predict he will not do.

Steven Gow Calabresi is the Clayton J. and Henry R. Barber Professor, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.