Rick Perry “put glasses on so people will think he’s smart,” Donald Trump said last summer of his then-GOP rival. “And it just doesn’t work! People can see through the glasses.”
Perry, the former Texas governor, said of Trump: “A man too arrogant, too self-absorbed, to seek God’s forgiveness is precisely the type of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House.”
None of that matters now. Trump has picked Perry for secretary of energy.
To act in ways that go against his earlier words already forms a clear pattern for the president-in-waiting.
Last year Trump said of rival Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
She said women nationwide heard that very clearly.
None of that seems to matter now either.
Trump met with Fiorina this week and she kissed the ring.
“The high quality of people that he’s named already says so much about his executive abilities,” said the former Hewlett-Packard CEO.
She’s now said to be considered for an appointment.
Physician and ex-rival Ben Carson, already tapped by Trump to head Housing and Urban Development, fits the same mold.
During the campaign Trump challenged Carson’s claim that as a violent youth he once tried but failed to stab someone only to have the knife broken by a belt buckle.
“How stupid are the people of Iowa?” Trump bellowed at a rally. “How stupid are the people of the country who believe this crap?”
Earlier, Trump likened Carson’s admitted temper during his childhood to the pathology of a child molester. Carson denounced this as a gratuitous attack and “the politics of personal destruciton.”
“Unfortunately we live in a society where that kind of thing works and people use things that work,” Carson said later.
Is this the new normal for a future work relationship?
The list goes on.
Mitt Romney was publicly touted by the transition as a possible secretary of state. Different people have leaked different things about the dance that followed.
Before the election Trump had called him a choke artist. “He failed horribly. He failed badly,” Trump said.
Romney has called Trump a phony and a fraud with “neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”
This week Romney tweeted “it was an honor to have been considered” and “I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace.”
Not all Trump’s campaign targets were individuals. Some were institutions.
His closing campaign ad showed a grim image of former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein just as Trump condemned the “global power structure” for bankrupting workers and enriching the wealthy.
This week Trump said he’d tap Goldman Sachs President and COO Gary Cohn, who has longtime close ties to Blankfein, to lead the White House National Economic Council, a key policy post.
Trump earlier chose Steve Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs veteran, for treasury secretary.
The president-elect hasn’t called a bona fide news conference since July 27 when he said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing.”
Politicians like to have things both ways. Should he decide to brave questions, Trump might be called on to reconcile what he said before with what’s happening now.
Clearly, many of his declarations from the campaign are no longer supposed to matter.
The question becomes, which ones will.