Former Texas Governor Rick Perry just got named to a plum patronage position by Donald Trump atop the Department of… what’s it called? Ah, yes. The Department of Energy. Perry’s 2012 Republican primary campaign famously fizzled when he said in a debate that if elected president, he would kill three federal agencies but could not remember the name of the Department of Energy.
He could be the only Cabinet nominee less qualified for the job than Ben Carson since Perry would be given wide-ranging authority over America’s electrical grid and our nuclear weapons security and production.
Yes. The Department of Energy isn’t just in charge of regulating electric generation – including all nuclear power plants – and overseeing America’s transition to green energy under President Obama’s appointment of a credentialed scientist and nuclear physicist. The DoE also oversees our nation’s nuclear weapons security and production, transportation and research activities through its National Nuclear Security Administration.
Current Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz won broad acclaim from Congress as a “true expert” in working to shape the Iran accords on a technical level and to explain it to lawmakers, which is part of the agency’s mission of nuclear non-proliferation. If America suddenly decides to revoke 70 years of post-World War 2 diplomacy to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, the bespectacled Texan and former Dancing With The Stars washout will be at the heart of the dangerous spread of radioactive munitions, as Donald Trump proposed on the campaign trail.
Notably, the Texas Governor is the weakest state executive in America, with few powers and even less work. As Texas Governor, Rick Perry barely escaped a criminal felony trial after de-funding the public corruption prosecutors in his state’s capital who had authority to oversee his administration, because they were investigating the “scandal-plagued Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas,” which fell under his administration’s oversight. Perry was saved by the First Amendment, which courts ruled allowed him to express his political decisions without fear of prosecution, something that ironically the Trump campaign just took legal action in favor of ending because they don’t believe the Electoral College will install a Putin-backed, narcissistic con-man into office.
Fortunately, Americans never had to lose sleep at night wondering if the MIT professor President Obama appointed to manage our nation’s nuclear weapons and power generation activities would do his job properly.
Unfortunately, Americans voted for a lying candidate who had no foreknowledge about the task of being president, and he appointed a laughably bad politician into the Energy Secretary job as political payback for holding his nose through a rancid electoral campaign.
Now, we’ll all have to wonder if Rick Perry, the man who couldn’t even remember the name of the Energy Department will remember to do his job and keep our nation’s nuclear infrastructure intact, the deterrent nuclear weapons safe and simultaneously fulfill his mission to reduce nuclear proliferation.
Hopefully, he remembers the name of the DoE long enough to make it to work if Republican Senators are foolish enough to entrust our national security to Rick Perry.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition