Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has quite a bit of work to do before he has to worry about cabinet secretaries, but he already has some people in mind for his executive-branch team. In July, for example, Trump was asked whether he’d consider former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) for his cabinet.
“I’d love that,” he replied. “Because she really is somebody who knows what’s happening and she’s a special person.”
Evidently, the Alaska Republican already has a specific job in mind.
In a freewheeling and strangely self-defeating interview on Sunday, Sarah Palin rallied behind Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, promoting herself as Trump’s potential secretary of energy even as she pledged to abolish the department.“I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby: oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind’s use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.”
Palin added, in the same interview, “I think a lot about Department of Energy. And if I were head of that, I would get rid of it.”
In other words, Palin wants to be the Energy Secretary, so that she could play a direct role in eliminating the Department of Energy. She wants to get the job, in order to walk away from the job – which, if nothing else, would fit nicely into Palin’s career pattern. (The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza joked over the weekend, “Palin is the only politician who takes jobs strictly so she can resign from them.”)
But that’s not the funny part, at least not all of it, anyway. The broader problem is that Palin says she “thinks a lot about the Department of Energy,” but not quite enough to know what the Department of Energy actually does.
Vox tried to give her a hand.
Palin is alluding to the fact that the federal government owns billions of acres of land and coastal waters, containing quite a bit of oil, gas, and coal. Industry groups have long complained that President Obama hasn’t opened up nearly as much of this land to drilling as they’d like. And a few groups out West have even demanded that much of this land be returned to the states.Except this all has very little to do with the Department of Energy, which mainly oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons program – a task consuming nearly half its budget – and conducts energy R&D.What Palin wants is the Department of Interior, which manages most federal lands. They’re the ones handling leases for coal mining or supervising offshore oil and gas drilling. If you wanted to transfer public lands back to the states, you’d focus on Interior, not Energy.
What’s more, becoming Energy Secretary wouldn’t actually help Palin eliminate the Department of Energy – that would require Congress.
So, Palin wants a specific job, without understanding what the job entails, so that she can eliminate the job, despite the fact that being in the position wouldn’t help her do that.
Remember, this is a topic Palin herself claims to “think a lot about.”
Postscript: Just as an aside, let’s note for context that the current Energy Secretary is Ernest Moniz, one of the nation’s leading nuclear physicists and a longtime MIT professor. He succeeded Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate and a professor at UC Berkley. The next person to fill this cabinet slot has some big shoes to fill.