President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change -- and much of the E.P.A. itself.A lot of delicate souls told us all year that they couldn't possibly vote for Hillary Clinton -- and what difference would it make anyway, given how indistinguishable she was from the Republican nominee? Okay, so now that we are where we are, how indistinguishable was she? Who might have been her EPA secretary?
Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies....
“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he wrote in National Review earlier this year. “That debate should be encouraged -- in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.” ...
“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the E.P.A. and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington research and advocacy organization.
“It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile E.P.A. administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history,” he added.
In August, Politico said that Clinton campaign chair John Podesta might have sought the job himself; a couple of months later, the Huffington Post, citing Wikileaks emails, noted that Podesta had twice recommended billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer to President Obama for the EPA job, and also put in a good word for former Colorado senator Tim Wirth, who organized Senate hearings on climate change (with NASA scientist James Hansen) back in 1988, and who led the U.S. negotiating team at the Kyoto Summit.
Trump vs. Clinton on the EPA? Yeah, I guess it's a tossup.
This is what left purists always refuse to grasp: that presidents have a tremendous amount of influence, and not just in the areas covered in purist talking points. It sure seems damning to run through the anti-Clinton bill of particulars (Goldman Sachs! Glass-Steagall repeal! The Iraq War vote! "Superpredators"!) -- but then a Republican sneaks into the White House, and this is what happens:
Trump cabinet picks:— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) December 7, 2016
EPA against science
AG against justice
Ed against public education
Hud against fair housing
HHS against healthcare
(And really, this would have been true if any of the Republicans who ran in 2016 had been elected.)
Just to pick one office from Berman's list: Who might have been Clinton's attorney general? Politico suggested that the top pick for the job that's going to go to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions would have been Tom Perez, the current labor secretary and a former civil rights lawyer. Perez's whitehouse.gov bio reads in part:
Previously Perez served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice.... Under his leadership as Assistant Attorney General, the division successfully implemented the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act; expanded equal housing opportunity by bringing and settling the largest fair-lending cases in history; protected schoolchildren from discrimination, bullying and harassment; dramatically expanded access to employment, housing and educational opportunities for people with disabilities; protected the right to vote for all eligible voters free from discrimination; took record-setting efforts to ensure that communities have effective and democratically accountable policing; and safeguarded the employment, housing, fair lending and voting rights of service members. He also expanded the division's partnerships across federal agencies to address cross-cutting challenges in human trafficking, employment discrimination and fair lending, among others.Perez vs. Sessions? Yup, hard to choose!
I don't want to limit the blame to purist lefty voters. They get some of their information from like-minded voices in the left media, but they're also exposed to the mainstream media, which regularly insists that Republicans really aren't that bad, and are just a few millimeters to the right of dead center. And Democrats never runs against the Republican Party itself -- they never attempt to portray the GOP as an existential threat to common decency (which is how Republicans routinely describe the Democratic Party to their voters). So maybe it's understandable if the inevitable consequences of allowing a Republican into the White House come as a shock to so many people.