Five years ago, Rick Perry ran for president on the promise to eliminate the Department of Energy. That may be, ironically, his best qualification for a potential nomination for Secretary of Energy under Donald Trump. Multiple sources have reported that the former governor of Texas has become a finalist for the position, and he’s meeting with the transition team today:
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been summoned to Trump Tower for a meeting today to discuss the position of energy secretary, according to transition sources.
Perry was contacted over the weekend and the meeting finalized on Sunday. Perry will arrive as internal debate over energy secretary intensifies. Perry will now be the third contender against Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. VA, and Ray Washburne, a key Trump fundraiser, former RNC finance chair, restaurateur and investor in oil and gas operations.
Yahoo News notes the irony that may not actually be all that ironic:
Perry’s proposal to scrap the Energy Department caused what has become known as his “oops” moment during a November 2011 debate when he could not remember the departments he wanted to eliminate.
“It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: commerce, education and the um, what’s the third one there? Let’s see,” Perry said.
His debate adversaries tried to prod his memory, but Perry ultimately gave up, saying, “I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.” It was the Energy Department, which is responsible for U.S. energy policy and oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
That would be ironic if not for the direction that Trump’s Cabinet has already taken. Trump picked Scott Pruitt to head the EPA after suing it as Oklahoma Attorney General for several years. Trump’s appointments in nearly every department except for the national-security posts indicate significant rollbacks in regulation, if not in jurisdiction and operation, especially when touching areas of economic growth. That’s the point of having Andy Puzder at Labor and Tom Price at HHS, too.
In that sense, Perry would be a good choice for the department he wanted to eliminate five years ago. Assuming that Trump isn’t looking to shutter it entirely, it would give Perry an opportunity to do what he promised in his presidential runs — make Washington DC a lot less relevant in the lives of its citizens, and return authority and accountability to the states. One can argue that bringing in outsiders for this position qualifies as draining the swamp, in a way that appointing Joe Manchin does not. A Perry nomination would also qualify as draining the power out of the Washington bureaucracy through regulatory reform — an outcome that would hold some irony for an Energy Department.
Perry still has quite a draw among conservatives despite his dashed presidential hopes, and a track record of success in Texas in energy and in job growth. That also makes him a good fit for Trump’s Cabinet. The transition team must think so too.