Donald Trump was elected president on a pledge to shake up the cozy club of political Washington. And, judging from his most important decisions in this presidential transition period — his nominees to serve in his Cabinet — Trump is making good on that pledge.
This chart — part of a broader PowerPoint presentation from the mind of Republican lobbyist Bruce Mehlman — shows just how different Trump's Cabinet looks from the inner circles of his predecessors.
The most striking takeaway from that chart is how much Trump has turned away from government experience as a key résumé point for his Cabinet picks. While more than 90 percent of the Cabinets of both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama had government experience, fewer than half of Trump's nominees do. By contrast, Trump's Cabinet is much more CEO-heavy — including secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, who is in the midst of his confirmation hearings at the moment — than any of those of the past four presidents. (Interesting that there were zero Cabinet members with CEO experience in the Obama administration.)
Trump critics will sound the alarm about the lack of people with government experience — or doctoral degrees — in his Cabinet. He's flying blind into the most complex bureaucracy in the world. He's putting a bunch of rich guys — just like him! — in all the positions of power.
Maybe. But remember these two things:
1. Trump won the election. That means he gets to pick whom he wants for his Cabinet.
2. The key to Trump's election was his promise of bringing radical change to Washington. Had he picked a bunch of establishment figures — Mitt Romney, for example, at State — he would have been abandoning that promise even before he officially became president.
Trump's candidacy — and presidency — was, and will be, like nothing we've seen before in modern American politics. Like it or hate it, that's what people voted for and that's why he won the election. Trump gets that — which is why he has picked one of the most unorthodox Cabinets in recent memory.