The Administration

A Tale of Two Cabinets: Obama’s cronies vs. Trump’s captains of industry


From aloof academics to career government cronies, President Barack Obama filled his Cabinet with individuals whose greatest achievements were dreaming up unworkable Democratic utopias from the far off perches of academia and Washington bureaucracy.

By contrast, President-elect Donald Trump has appointed doers and captains of industry, for which he has received the ever so out-of-touch critique of the mainstream media.

“What we have are ignoramuses, billionaires and a few generals,” lamented Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post.

On the contrary, “what we have” is a Cabinet that looks a lot more like the novel appointees of President Ronald Reagan and less like the failed Obama appointees who gave us four dead Americans in Benghazi, the Fast and Furious gun running catastrophe and the death of a border patrol agent, hundreds of dead veterans in line at the VA, a failed $2 billion-dollar Obamacare website, $500 million taxpayer dollars lost at Solyndra, and $6 billion dollars wasted at the State Department.

Why the laundry list of undeniable disasters?

{mosads}An analysis of the Reagan, Obama and Trump Cabinets might explain it. My study of Obama’s Cabinet reveals that, of his 21 initial Cabinet or Cabinet-level appointees, just one individual, Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, had spent the majority of her career outside of the public sector or academia.


On average, Obama’s appointees had 17 years of experience in academia or government.

In stark contrast, Trump’s picks thus far have an average of 6.8 years of government experience, a full decade less of government work than the Obama Cabinet. Trump’s selections have earned him the ire of critics who decry his “team of novices.”

But far from being a drawback, the Trump Cabinet’s lack of government experience is both an attribute and historically in line with the Cabinet of Reagan.

Reagan’s Cabinet had 6.9 years of government experience on average, resoundingly close to where Trump’s Cabinet nominees are. And while Reagan appointed four CEOs or top businessmen, Trump has appointed six CEOs or top businessmen. Obama, notably, appointed zero.

It was the “neophytes” in Reagan’s Cabinet like Merrill Lynch CEO, turned secretary of the Treasury, Donald Regan and CEO of Scovill, Inc., turned secretary of Commerce, Malcolm Baldridge Jr. who aided in producing the prosperous policies that make Reagan a bipartisan legend.

It was Baldridge who conducted the first Cabinet-level talks with the soon-to-be dismantled Soviet Union. And it was Regan who helped to craft Reaganomics, which produced the longest peacetime expansion in history, 20 million new jobs, an annually declining poverty rate, and a per-capita disposable income increase of 18 percent.

In short, the Reagan appointees who excelled in their respective fields are a lot like the so-called “ignoramuses” — in the opinion of Jennifer Rubin — that Trump has appointed. Rather than engaging in broad sweeping generalizations, perhaps the “Washington Post’s” resident “Republican” could instead tell us who among the Trump appointees exactly are the “ignoramuses.”

Is it Labor secretary pick, Andy Puzder, who transformed a company (CKE Restaurants) burdened with $700 million in debt to a $1.4 billion annual revenue-producing machine?

Is it director of National Economic Council designate, Gary Cohn, who battled dyslexia and started his career selling window panels before tenaciously working his way to the No. 2 position at Goldman Sachs, the world’s most prestigious bank?

Or is it Dr. Ben Carson, the selection for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who grew up in poverty only to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

Or how about three-star Gen. Mike Flynn, who sounded the alarm on ISIS when Obama was calling them “a jayvee team,” or four-star Gens. James Mattis and John Kelly, who both served our nation honorably for four decades, before being picked for secretary of Defense and secretary of Homeland Security, respectively?

And then there is Rex Tillerson, the newly appointed Secretary of State, who began working life as an engineer at Exxon and rose to CEO of the $300 billion dollar company.  

Tillerson has not spent his days crafting a grand foreign policy vision from the confines of a Washington office; instead, his life in the private sector has entailed traveling the world, doggedly negotiating deals, and developing close ties with world leaders, many of whom he has known for decades.   

In typical leftists fashion, Democrats are seeking to undermine and caricature Tillerson as a Russian loyalist. This is despite Tillerson being recommended by Obama’s first Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, hardly Russian cheerleaders.  

Tillerson is a novel choice, whose closeness with foreign dignitaries, including Russia, gives him the upper hand in advocating for American interests.

Unlike the Obama Cabinet, the Trump Cabinet is not comprised of do-nothing bureaucrats, who worked their way up the twisted, scheme-ridden Washington ladder; rather, they are doers, achievers, and leaders, who have attained the heights of greatness in their particular fields.

They will bring real change to Washington because they are change, change from the Washington way that we have not seen since the 1980s.

Far from being imbeciles, as the left would have you believe, Trump has assembled a Cabinet of the nation’s best. This, of course, is unpalatable to the Washington elite, who only find worth in a long list of public sector titles.

If history repeats itself and Trump’s appointees are agents of change and usher in the Reagan prosperity of the 1980s, the only “ignoramuses” will be those who applauded Obama’s Cabinet of bureaucrats, who gave us Solyndra, Obamacare, Benghazi, VA wait lines, Fast and Furious, private email servers, and a litany of government failures.

Kayleigh McEnany recently received her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. She graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and also studied politics at Oxford University.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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