President Donald Trump's choice of Alexander Acosta to replace fast-food CEO Andy Puzder as his choice for Secretary of Labor may be the biggest slam dunk of his presidency so far. Here are three reasons why:
1) A solid resume
Acosta has the perfect professional resume for Labor at this time. He's been on the National Labor Relations Board, served as an Assistant Attorney General, and most recently was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. His expertise in immigration law especially is quite useful under the Trump administration. It also doesn't hurt that he has two degrees (undergrad and law school) from Harvard.
2) Cultural ties
If confirmed, Acosta would be the first Latino member of the Trump cabinet. And even though candidate Trump actually did better among Latino voters than all the pundits expected, appointing Acosta could indeed help improve ties to Latino voters.
"It would simply be suicide for a party that's banking more and more on racial identity politics to be aggressive or even appear to be aggressively opposing someone like Acosta."
And Acosta is not just an important Latino figure because of his lineage alone. Since 2013, he's been the Chairman of U.S. Century Bank which is one of the largest Latino-American-owned community banks in the U.S.
3) Return to normalcy
Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants and someone known for making controversial statements, was a decidedly out-of-the-box choice for a cabinet position. His withdrawal may be something to mourn for those who truly wanted a major shake-up for the D.C. bureaucracy. But while Acosta may agree with a lot of Puzder's ideas, he is a clear product of the Washington system with many more years in government service than in the private sector. That fact alone will assure some of the more worried observers from both parties that President Trump is not intent on assembling some kind of rogue cabinet.
The flip side of that is jobs and immigration are such a crucial part of President Trump's promise to shake up government as usual. Acosta may be able to achieve that goal but as a consummate insider, it may take more intellectual heavy lifting. If the Trump team is going to follow through on those promised changes, this may have to be one of those cases where the cabinet member charged with carrying out those changes simply has to do what the president demands and keeps his own input to a minimum.
And then there's the final kicker: Acosta may be Democrats' worst nightmare. He's a nominee they simply have to respect and cannot begin to hope to block. It would simply be suicide for a party that's banking more and more on racial identity politics to be aggressive or even appear to be aggressively opposing someone like Acosta.
Barring the revelation of some kind of crazy personal scandal, nothing will stop Acosta from becoming our next Labor Secretary. The ease with which he will be confirmed and the kind way he is likely to be treated even by the president's enemies, might bring a needed moment of calm in the current Washington storm.
Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.
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