Thought Process

C’mon, John Kerry’s just doing his job.

The outgoing Secretary of State knows that the man nominated to replace him, ExxonMobil
CEO Rex Tillerson, isn’t qualified to cut the White House lawn, much less represent the Trump administration internationally. As a longtime climate hawk, Kerry also knows about ExxonMobil’s decades of deception on climate change, and the fossil-fuel giant’s repulsive relentlessness in preventing its actions from being scrutinized legally. Still, it’s fairly obvious that President Obama told Kerry not to disrupt the transition by declaring that Tillerson is unqualified to fill the role, and Kerry is being, pun fully intended, a good soldier:

Yet as he reflects on his highest-profile job, he is also facing a stark reality: many of his major accomplishments may soon be shred to pieces. Trump has railed against the Iran deal that Kerry spent years negotiating, and he has pilloried the Paris climate deal. Trump has threatened to reinstate sanctions on Cuba, and could revoke them on Russia.

Kerry remains diplomatic when questioned about Trump’s plans. “There are a lot of things that get talked about in the course of a campaign,” he said. “How many people have run for office saying I’m going to do this and that?”

Kerry believes the Iran deal “will stand on its rationale.” He praised as thoughtful some of Trump’s nominees, including defense secretary nominee James Mattis and Rex Tillerson, who Trump has selected to be Kerry’s successor.

“Let’s wait and see. I’m not going to get ahead of the decisions that they make,’’ he said. “Because governing is very, very different when you’re confronted with the realities. And I think one of the things people make a huge mistake in doing is ginning themselves up over guessing. I’m not going to guess.”

Even though Kerry knows how lousy Tillerson is, he’s being–well, what else?–diplomatic. It’s the same diplomacy President Obama has exhibited towards Trump. Of course, just because Obama and Kerry are restrained by diplomacy and decorum doesn’t mean everyone else is–including the man who won Kerry’s Senate seat in a 2013 special election:

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey on Tuesday blasted Republican president-elect Donald Trump’s environment-related cabinet picks.

“We are on the verge of a historic showdown over the protection of the environment, of the U.S. and the entire planet,” said Markey, D-Massachusetts. “President Trump is not naming a cabinet, President Trump is naming a cartel to be the leaders of energy and environmental policy in the U.S.”

Surrounded by environmental advocates at a Boston press conference, Markey said his concerns were with several Trump appointees, in particular:

* the nomination of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State;
* the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency;
* and the nomination of former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy…

Markey accused Trump of nominating a “big oil all-star team” who “represents a significant threat to the environment and to the safe clean energy policy which our country needs.”

Markey’s largely right, but in at least one respect he’s dead wrong:

Markey predicted it may be possible to get some Republicans to vote against some of Trump’s cabinet picks. Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have already voiced concerns about Tillerson’s nomination.

Bullpucky, as Rachel Maddow might say. It’s a guarantee that every Republican Senator, including those who initially expressed skepticism about the Tillerson pick, will ultimately roll over like obedient canines for Trump. The chance of “moderate Republican Senators” voting against confirming these noxious nominees is about as likely as Collateral Beauty grossing $200 million.

As John Abraham noted last month, the Republican Party bears complete responsibility for the climate crisis from here on out. Can Obama and Kerry openly say that? Of course not. Can we the people say that? Yes we can.

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