Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's confirmation this year was so controversial it required a history-making, tie breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. She reflected on the process in a series of interviews with Politico Magazine, published on Thursday.
Part of the problem, DeVos said, is that she wasn't properly briefed on how confirmation on the hill works.
In retrospect, DeVos tells me, she blames the transition team for its handling of her confirmation. “I think I was undercoached,” she says. “The transition group was very circumspect about how much information they gave me about then-current policy and … it was in their view a balance between being prepared for a confirmation hearing and not having well-formed opinions on what should or shouldn’t change, so as not to get caught in a confirmation hearing making commitments that then I wouldn’t want to or be able to keep. And in hindsight, I wish I had a whole lot more information.”
DeVos also complained about how she was forbidden from giving any solo interviews, a decision she says gave her critics way too many opportunities to take cheap shots at her that went unanswered.
DeVos squeaked through confirmation and is now our secretary of education, but the headaches are far from over. She is forced to travel with a beefed up security detail thanks in large part to her championing of conservative policies.
Her school choice advocacy has turned her into a "villain in the eyes of public school advocates," Politico notes, and her proposal to reform Title IX to give students more due process resulted in protesters accusing her of "protecting rapists."
There's more. When she tried to give the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University, students heckled her. When she arrived at Harvard University for a chat about Title IX, they chanted "white supremacy" and taunted her with rude questions about how she's profiting off the backs of children.
It's worth noting that she answered each question patiently and professionally.
That doesn't mean she doesn't get ticked. The protests, the chants, and the vulgar signs have all taken their toll on her.
“I was so angry," she said, recalling when protesters blocked her way into a public school in D.C. in February.
She's not about to back down. As she shared in her interview, she once went toe-to-toe with a burglar.
Some years ago, DeVos was mugged while sightseeing in Barcelona. A man ran into her and grabbed onto her expensive handbag—but DeVos refused to let go. She held onto the handle while he began to run away, which sent her flying through the air and resulted in a serious knee injury that required surgery.
DeVos has proven she's up for the fight, but if these protests keep up, by next year Devos's security team could cost up to $6.54 million.