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March 16, 2017

Money and Munitions: The Presidential Line of Succession, Part 2

presidential line of succession

The presidential line of succession dictates who ascends the high office in the event of a president’s premature passing. In our last post, we looked at the three successors at the top of the line:

  1. Vice President Mike Pence
  2. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
  3. President of the Senate Orrin Hatch

 

Today, we’ll look at the next three contenders to the throne, including the first non-republican on the list.

Though they aren’t all red-blooded Republicans, this trio has something in common – see if you can guess what it is. Hint: their boss shares this trait as well.

4. Rex Tillerson

Like something out of a dystopian leftist’s nightmare, oil baron Rex Tillerson comes in as the fourth in line for the presidential office.

While Rex Tillerson is a newcomer to the world of presidential politics, he is no stranger to authority. The Texas oilman started his career at ExxonMobil in 1975 and climbed the ranks to CEO in 2006. Today, he sits at #24 on the Forbes list of most powerful people – and that’s before President Trump offered him the seat of Secretary of State.

Unlike his predecessors, the eminent John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, Rex Tillerson comes to the office with no public sector experience. But if recent history has shown anything, it’s that a dearth of political practice is no barrier to entry in the Oval Office.

5. Steven Mnuchin

Like the Secretary of State, Steve Mnuchin comes to the White House straight off Wall Street. A 27-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin now serves as the Trump administration’s Treasury Secretary.

His appointment was met a controversy so furious that it rivalled Tillerson’s. To start, Mnuchin is a multi-millionaire with a net worth of $500 million. His association with Goldman Sachs is poisonous among democrats and the centre-right alike. As if that weren’t enough, Mnuchin also served at the helm of the beleaguered bank IndyMac at the height of the financial crisis.

It should be noted, however, the Mr. Mnuchin’s appointment is far from the most contentious on our list – but that comes further down the line.

6. James Mattis

Remember when I said these three contenders have something in common? By now, you’re probably thinking wealth. And it’s true that the oilman, the banker, and the dealmaker himself share this trait.

But James Mattis is not a rich man. Nor is he a politician, which is about the only thing that makes him akin to President Trump.

Tillerson and Mnuchin are cut from the same gold-fringed cloth as the man who appointed them, but Mattis is a military man. Some call him Mad Dog – others see him as more of a Warrior Monk. The former marine lead the battle for Fallujah in Iraq and oversaw the war in Afghanistan.

That’s not all that sets Mad Dog apart from the two men ahead in line. Unlike Mnuchin and Tillerson, Mad Dog’s confirmation was almost entirely free from controversy. The Senate gladly confirmed him with a vote of 98 to 1.

For years, it was a given that the president of the United States would have at least some military experience. Even George Bush Junior spent some time in the National Guard. President Obama defied that narrative, and President Trump laid it to rest. For some, President Mattis would be a welcome return to form.

Next time, we’ll look at three more links in the presidential chain, including the first and only Democrat in line for the throne.