When Donald Trump was elected president three weeks ago, many Democrats — and even some Republicans — openly fretted about whom he would pick to be in his Cabinet. Would he appoint only loyalists who affirmed his views? People with zero experience? People no one had ever heard of?
With the announcement Thursday of Gen. James Mattis as his pick for secretary of defense, Trump continues to demonstrate that those early worries were way off base. In fact, Trump’s Cabinet choices — and some of his potential choices — reflect a political savviness that many people haven’t been willing to grant the president-elect.
Let’s break it down.
Trump has, without doubt, installed a handful of trusted allies in both senior staff roles and Cabinet positions. Choosing Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general is one obvious example. But, whether or not you agree with Sessions’s views — and Democrats don’t — he’s not someone whose résumé suggests he couldn’t do the job. He’s been in the Senate since 1996 and before that was a U.S. attorney and was nominated for a federal judgeship by President Ronald Reagan in 1985.