Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said watching President-elect Donald Trump assemble his cabinet has been like watching someone build what’s arguably the greatest basketball team of all time.
Falwell told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that Trump’s appointees remind him of the legendary 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team — commonly known as the “Dream Team.”
“It reminds me of the basketball dream team from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when America was finally allowed to let professional athletes play. They beat every team by an average of 44 points. And that’s what I see,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame described the Dream Team — which was chock-full of active NBA superstars including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing — as “the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet.”
For Falwell, Trump’s growing cabinet is similar. The real estate mogul’s choices include ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general, businesswoman Betsy DeVos for education secretary, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I think what Trump is doing with his cabinet is assembling a dream team,” Falwell said. “I think Scott Pruitt is — I’m especially excited about him.” Environmentalists are particularly alarmed by this pick because Pruitt rejects mainstream climate science and has been a prominent opponent of the EPA.
Wallace asked Falwell to address some of the criticism he’s received from the evangelical community for supporting Trump’s choice of Tillerson, who successfully lobbied the Boy Scouts to lift a national ban on gay youth from joining. Under Tillerson, ExxonMobil also made contributions to Planned Parenthood, whose reproductive health services include abortion.
“His position on social issues I don’t believe are relevant in the position of secretary of state. I don’t think he’ll ever have to weigh in on any of those issues,” Falwell said. “I think he’s going to be out cutting deals like he did as the CEO of a global enterprise with Exxon. And I think that’s what we need in that position. I don’t think his position on social issues will ever make a difference as secretary of state.”
Falwell also plucked another phrase from American history to describe Trump’s cabinet picks: “captains of industry.”
“I’ve said that watching Trump assemble his cabinet has been the most exciting thing because he’s brought in the captains of industry,” Falwell said.
The captains of industry were entrepreneurs and industrialists in the late-19th century whose pursuit of wealth is typically thought to have benefited the country at large by spurring the economy, building the nation’s infrastructure and establishing philanthropic organizations. They are often juxtaposed with the robber barons, who enriched themselves through exploitation and corruption.
Back in January 2016, Falwell became one of the first and most prominent members of the evangelical community to formally endorse Trump. He even spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July, calling Trump “one of the greatest visionaries of our time.”
“I truly believe Mr. Trump is America’s blue-collar billionaire. He is down to earth. He loves America and the American people. He is a true patriot and a champion of the common man,” Falwell said at the time.
Other conservative Christians — who felt that Trump’s lifestyle, temperament and values were at odds with theirs — criticized Falwell for the decision. Falwell’s move ultimately paid off. According to exit polls, white evangelical voters mostly sided with Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.