It makes me laugh that border hawks are already grumbling at this news, remembering Perry’s soft spot for illegals during the 2012 presidential primary debates. That Perry is long gone, along with the Perry who excoriated Trump in 2015 as a “cancer on conservatism.” The man has been fully assimilated. You want him to deport some DREAMers? Done. Pre-K not excepted.
Energy or Homeland Security: Which one is a better fit for Perry? On the one hand, as a longtime governor of Texas, he has more experience than most people in the United States with protecting the border, a key DHS responsibility. On the other hand, errrrr:
[Ryan Zinke is] naturally closest with the fellow veterans Mattis and Kelly, the former with whom he served in Iraq, but he’s also become good friends with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (the two, along with their wives, sat together at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s recent Washington wedding. “We all danced a bit,” Zinke says). He’s fond of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, too. “Secretary Perry is a wonderful guy,” he says. “I think he thought his department was more about energy than…science. Mostly, it’s science. And, of course, they also have responsibility of our nuclear arsenal. Interior is the one that produces energy…we laugh a lot about it.”
Homeland Security it is, then:
The Trump administration is considering Energy Secretary Rick Perry as one possible replacement for John Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security, according to three people familiar with the deliberations…
Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign foundered after he accused his Republican opponents of not having a “heart” about immigrants. Texas has a large Latino population, and Perry helped advance legislation that let undocumented children of immigrants pay in-state tuition for college.
But Perry also has supported reinforcing the U.S.-Mexico border, calling for the construction of traditional fencing where feasible and electronic barriers otherwise, supplemented by aerial monitoring.
The cowboy governor “looks the part” of DHS chief and Trump is big on his cabinet looking the part. Perry has another key qualification too, one that becomes more important every day: He already works for Trump. Taking the job would require him to do no soul-searching about whether it’s worth subjecting oneself to early-morning rage-tweets by the president about how badly you’ve disappointed him. Perry’s already assumed that risk. Michael McCaul, another DHS shortlister, hasn’t — and he’s allegedly thinking hard about whether he should:
“How the administration has leapt from one chaotic episode to the next and seeing how Trump loyalists like (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions and (New Jersey Gov. Chris) Christie have been treated by the President will likely cause pause,” the well-placed source said.
“McCaul has built an excellent reputation in the House and in Texas,” the source continued. “He won’t want decades of hard work to be called into question or undone in 140 characters by an executive whose temperament and positions seem to change by the hour.”
As I say, not a problem for Perry — although moving from Energy to DHS obviously places him closer to Trump’s line of fire. You’d have to screw up awfully badly at Energy to get the president’s attention. At Homeland Security, a single lone-wolf terror attack might be all it takes for three weeks of “Rick Perry looks weak!” buck-passing.
Exit question: Can we really afford to hold Perry’s 2012 immigration comments against him? The guy he’d replace at DHS just convinced Trump to give up on the border wall, for cripes sake.
Update: There’s an old tweet for every occasion.
Rick Perry did an absolutely horrible job of securing the border. He should be ashamed of himself. Gov. Abbott has since been terrific.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2015