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Cautious Trump Voter And Radio Host Ed Morrisey Is Optimistic After Cabinet Picks


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. Scott Simon is away. Donald Trump is not president yet, but he's shaking up long-standing foreign policy with his posts on social media. This past week, Trump said the United States should expand its nuclear arsenal, and he urged the Obama administration to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution yesterday that was critical of Israel. Trump has also been busy with appointments, rounding up his communications team, making other high-level choices. Conservative commentator Ed Morrissey has been cautiously optimistic about the president-elect. Mr. Morrissey, welcome back to our program.

ED MORRISSEY: Great to be with you, thank you.

WERTHEIMER: When you see Donald Trump wading into big-policy questions like nuclear weapons, do you take him seriously or do you think he's putting on some kind of a little play with some other diplomatic or political gain in mind?

MORRISSEY: Well, I mean, I would take either one of those options seriously. He's the president of the United States, and so I think it automatically becomes serious when you have the president-elect of the United States, I should say, talking about nuclear weapons and our nuclear strategy. And I think that like we have seen in other areas, you know, Twitter is not necessarily the greatest platform in which to articulate a nuanced and in-depth strategy on much of anything. And I would say nuclear weapons probably is one of the bigger examples of what doesn't fit in Twitter.

WERTHEIMER: Well, now, over the past few weeks, after learning about Russian hacking during the election, a split seems to be developing in your party over how to think about Russia. Donald Trump calls for a more friendly relationship. This is obviously a big move away from President Ronald Reagan's evil empire. Is that a problem for you or not?

MORRISSEY: It's a bit of a problem for me because I think Russia is malicious actor on the world stage. I do think, though, that the national security team that Donald Trump is putting together probably has some clear eyes on that. And I think that you'll find that the practical strategy coming out of the White House during the Trump era might be a little less pro-Russian than perhaps some people are assuming.

WERTHEIMER: When Scott Simon talked to you over the summer, you were struggling with who you would support. You said you were not a Never Trump person, but you had doubts about Donald Trump. How are you feeling now, especially considering what you just said about about Russia?

MORRISSEY: Well, I mean, I think I still have some skepticism about Donald Trump. What I'm hoping for is that we start to rethink the presidency itself in terms of the amount of authority that we have allowed the executive to accrue and have some of that come back to Congress and to the states in order to make the question of what a president is going to do at least a little bit more controllable.

WERTHEIMER: Well, now, I would think that that would be something that Donald Trump would not really want to get behind.

MORRISSEY: Probably not. The problem is is that most people who run for president will talk about that, but when they get into office, their incentives change. And I think one thing that we can probably look forward to is the fact that because Donald Trump is coming in as a less popular president-elect than probably we've seen in quite a long period of time - maybe Nixon would be the closest analog to this - there's going to be a lot more incentives for Congress and for the states to assert more of their own jurisdiction. And I think that that would be a positive outcome.

WERTHEIMER: You talked about the Cabinet briefly. Are there any Cabinet choices so far that you feel strongly about one way or the other?

MORRISSEY: Well, I feel pretty good about most of them. The one question mark I probably have is Tillerson at state because I think that the fact that he's done a lot of business with the Putin administration in Russia certainly is something that I think Congress is going to be asking a lot of questions about. But I think conservatives can be pretty cheered by some of the other picks in some of the other Cabinet positions, such as Governor Rick Perry at energy and Scott Pruitt at the EPA are definitely going to be pursuing the type of devolution of authority back to the states that I think that conservatives have been asking for really probably for 20-30 years and haven't seen much of.

WERTHEIMER: Ed Morrissey is host of "The Ed Morrissey Show" on Hot Air and the author of the book "Going Red." He joined us via Skype. Thank you very much for doing this.

MORRISSEY: Thank you, Linda. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.