Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

That's one anti-elitist Cabinet that Trump is putting together

How bad has it gotten for supporters of Donald J. Trump, who saw our new president-elect as the proud champion of the American working man, the hero who would save them from a future as hamburger-flippers? How are they responding to the decidedly elitist, anti-worker, billionaire-dominated Cabinet being put together by Trump?

When Trump promised his followers that he would "take on the establishment," did he also tell them that he meant he would take on the establishment as his full partner?

Here's one telling indicator:

No right-wing outlet has been more supportive of Trump than Breitbart, run until recently by Steve Bannon, whom Trump has named as his chief White House counselor.

Here's how Breitbart reported the president-elect's nomination of his new Labor secretary:

"President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to name as his Labor secretary fast food executive Andy Puzder, who stands diametrically opposed to Trump’s signature issues on trade and immigration — which won him the election.

Puzder is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which includes Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.

Advocates for American wage-earners say that Puzder as secretary of Labor is alarming because he will be in charge of enacting policies that directly impact American workers, whom Puzder believes are “unwilling” to do certain jobs. Puzder has suggested that available U.S. jobs should instead be filled by imported foreign labor.

Puzder has even gone so far as to suggest that he prefers foreign laborers to native-born American workers because foreign nationals are more grateful and have a better “attitude.”

Trump, who railed repeatedly during the campaign against the Wall Street elite exemplified by Goldman Sachs, has already named a Goldman Sachs partner as Treasury secretary. Likewise, his nominee to head the Commerce Department is a billionaire who bought coal companies and steel companies and stripped the workers of pensions and benefits, and who ran such a shoddy operation that an accident at one of his safety-challenged mines killed 12 workers.

(UPDATE at 10:55 a.m: President-elect Trump just announced the appointment of Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, who has championed the off-shoring of thousands of jobs at Goldman, to serve as director of the National Economic Council.)

And this week, when the head of the union local representing Carrier workers in Indiana dared to point out that Trump did not, as he claimed, save more than 1,100 jobs from going to Mexico, and that more than 500 good Carrier jobs were still being outsourced to Monterey, our president-elect responded by unleashing his "beautiful Twitter account" against the man, by name.

It had exactly the effect that Trump apparently hoped it would have:

"Half an hour after Trump tweeted about Jones on Wednesday, the union leader's phone began to ring and kept ringing, he said. One voice asked: 'What kind of car do you drive?' Another said: 'We’re coming for you.'

He wasn’t sure how these people found his number.

"Nothing that says they’re gonna kill me, but, you know, you better keep your eye on your kids,” Jones said later on MSNBC. “We know what car you drive. Things along those lines.”"

Meanwhile, in Congress, Senate Democrats are fighting to ensure that pensions and health benefits promised to and earned by some 16,000 retired coal miners get extended for at least another year. They are refusing to support a stopgap spending bill unless those provisions are included in the legislation.

Republicans are not being supportive, and so far Trump is silent. So too is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, where some 3,000 of those retired miners live.

"They're not going to get what they want. They ought to actually be grateful for what they got," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the GOP  majority whip.

Let them eat coal dust.

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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.