by Max Brantley
By Ernest Dumas
Presidential elections leave many fearful, more so Donald Trump's than any other, but a month out from the inaugural some of the tormented are already breathing huge sighs of relief.
None are more relieved than the top tenth of one percent, those we loved to call the plutocrats, who were alarmed at the populist turn of Trump's candidacy, his insinuations that he would be a friend of the sunburned sons of toil, an enemy of Wall Street and particularly of the great investment house Goldman Sachs that owned Sen. Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, and a scourge of the super-rich whose taxes he would raise. He was going to drain the swamp in Washington, where the rich and powerful always got their way through the dispensations of money and lobbyists.
Now, not a happier band abides in the land. Some days it seems that Goldman Sachs will be in charge of half of the new government. Trump's tax plan turned out to be a boon for all the super-rich and a bone for the middle class. Cabinet posts went mainly to the mega-rich, even the department serving public education in America, which will be run by a scion of the shady Amway fortune who does not believe in public education.
If Trump's millions of blue-collar fans paid attention, they might have been alarmed by Trump's choice of Andrew Puzder, the CEO of fast-food chains, who opposes the minimum wage and government worker protections generally, to be secretary of labor, the man in charge of enforcing wage-and-hour and employment laws. But most businessmen were heartened, perhaps even with his support for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.
Trump's choice of Puzder may have been nothing more than just rewarding a kindred spirit. Both men are famous admirers of soft porn, in the president-elect's case nude photo shoots and risque palaver—on air and in private—and in Puzder's case his famous soft-porn commercials starring the rich sex queen Paris Hilton and other nearly naked models doing sexually suggestive things to promote his burger chains. Puzder scoffed at the healthy-food movement. Americans want "decadent" food and should get it, he said.
Even the showman's big gesture to workers, Carrier's agreement to keep 700 jobs that it had planned to ship to Mexico, had to be heartening to big business. Carrier's deal with Trump is that it will ship 1,300 jobs from Indiana to Mexico, reap $7 million from Indiana taxpayers to help the transition and sit by for Trump's promise to permanently cut the taxes of United Technologies, Carrier's parent, by half. Who's next?
The giant fossil-fuel industry was cool to the Trump candidacy early and properly nervous thereafter, recalling the full-page The New York Times ad that he and three offspring signed in 2009 calling for radical steps by the government to cut carbon emissions and reverse global warming.
All those fears perished quickly with the appointment of the Oklahoma attorney general, a climate-change denier and furious opponent of pollution restrictions on industry, as administrator of the agency created to protect Americans' environmental health and restore clean water and air.
The appointment of Exxon Mobil's CEO as secretary of state had to turn relief into bliss. Exxon for years financed the scientific subterfuge that carbon emissions were perfectly safe for the environment, although the company now says it sort of recognizes the reality. But the State Department will no longer be a champion of global carbon reduction. The Koch brothers are off their antidepressants.
People who voted for Trump in the expectation that he would build a giant wall and deport 13 million immigrants must be in sorrow over his quiet assurances that he won't do much of either. So who else is happier than on election night?
Obviously the Russophiles, who seem to be a larger quotient than we thought. Trump was the first pro-Russian candidate for president since Gus Hall's last race in 1984, when Ronald Reagan beat him by a factor of 1,500 to 1, but all the pre-election talk about the Kremlin interfering in the election had to worry Russia's defenders.
Trump doubled down after the election, insisting that Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin loved him and would be great allies, even in the face of the assertions by Republican leaders in Congress that Putin was a nasty man who would never look after America's interests. Trump named retired General Michael T. Flynn, who peddled fake conspiracies about Hillary Clinton and others and considered himself a friend of Putin, as his national security adviser. Flynn appeared several times on the Kremlin's television network and as a guest of Putin at a gala.
Russophiles had to be relieved Tuesday when, in spite of Republican leaders vowing to expose Russian meddling in the election, Trump nominated as secretary of state the Exxon Mobil CEO, who will face harsh questioning about his friendship with Putin, his company's ties to the Russian oil oligarchy and his opposition to the crippling sanctions against Russia imposed by President Obama after the country's takeover of Crimea and its incursions into Ukraine.
That seals it. Russia is our partner, no longer an adversary. It's time to be happy.