Former Texas Governor and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has been appointed to a key position on the National Security Council (NSC) in the wake of the sudden departure of White House advisor Steve Bannon, making the former Texas Governor the latest surprising, confounding appointment by President Trump.
Perry, who was a surprise choice for Secretary of Energy, joins the primary group of national security policy makers at a time the NSC is under a cloud of controversy due to leaks connected to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Two NSC officials have been identified by the New York Times as the source for leaks to House Intelligence Committee Chair Devon Nunes (R-CA).
His appointment can be justified because as Energy Secretary he is in charge of the nuclear stockpile, which takes up much of the agency’s budget. That means he has at least a tangential role in the development of nuclear weapon science and technology.
That is in contrast to the appointment of Bannon, which was controversial because of concerns that a white supremacist was playing a role in national security concerns. Bannon continues as a presidential advisor and still has his security clearance.
Perry’s fifteen years as Governor of Texas (2000-2015) , his two failed presidential campaigns and being a losing contestant on the TV reality show Dancing With The Stars don’t seem to provide serious credentials for a crucial role in domestic and international security policy.
In Texas as Governor and when he ran for president, questions were also raised about Perry’s intelligence.
“Doubts about Perry’s intellect have hounded him since he was first elected as a state legislator nearly three decades ago,” Politico reported during his 2011 campaign for president. “In Austin, he’s been derided as a right place, right-time pol who looks the part but isn’t so deep — ‘Gov. Goodhair.'”
The POLITICO article added a blind quote from a former Republican Governor who knows Perry that it characterized as a joke making the rounds: “He’s like Bush only without the brains.
The good news is that this reorganization of the NSC also adds back the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, to the committee. Trump had dropped them even though people in their positions had been on the NSC for many years.
When Trump chose Perry as Energy Secretary it was surprising because as a presidential candidate, the former Governor said he wanted to eliminate that agency. Now Trump has elevated Perry to a central role in keeping America safe in a dangerous world despite no apparent credentials for the job outside of being Energy Secretary.
We will leave it to some of the commentators on the Austin American-Statesman website, to sum up how many in Texas and elsewhere are reacting to this latest Trump shuffle:
- Venus Santos: “I can pretty much guarantee Rick Perry didn’t even KNOW the NSC existed until 10 minutes ago.”
- Camellia May: “He has a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry, so of course he’s totally qualified.”
- Harold Mosher: “Now we are in real trouble. The glasses added no points to his IQ. We in Texas can avow for that.”
- Penelope Hamerle James: “Totally qualified, just like the rest of the administration.”
- Tommy Rhea: “Is this the Onion? You have to be joking!”