Watching the news coverage of the inauguration, I was struck by how quickly the Washington establishment sets upon and locks into place a conventional wisdom on everything Trump does. On “The O’Reilly Factor,” Bob Woodward nonchalantly claimed that Donald Trump is not an ideological person. Woodward insisted that Trump comes from the world of “selling things.” Rather than viewing Trump’s excellent inaugural address as a mission statement for how he is going to run the government, Woodward implied that the speech was merely an opening bid. As far as Woodward is concerned, Trump is going to sell out his most ardent supporters to the highest Democratic bidder.
He could not be more wrong.
Since the summer of 2015, the news media consistently has been wrong in their analysis of Trump. At one point, they insisted that he was not a serious candidate at all. Then, when Trump proved them wrong about that, these brilliant people maintained that Trump would be crushed in the primaries. Wrong again. Unable to learn from their mistakes, they redoubled their rhetoric and said Trump would be no match for the awesome power of the Clinton war machine. Well, it is some months and 304 electoral votes later, and it was Trump who attended the inaugural ceremonies as president-elect while Hillary Clinton showed up as the begrudged observer.
The media have not learned their lesson.
Yes, Trump is a businessman. Trump made a career from his deal making. Because of this, the skylines of major cities around the world—from New York City to Beijing—are dotted with Trump properties. Trump (or, “The Donald,” as he became known over the years) segued his business acumen into building a media empire. For years, he reaffirmed his image in the zeitgeist as a man who knew how to get things done—at cost.
Indeed, as Trump himself stated in his first book, The Art of the Deal: “My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.”
OK, fine. It’s fair when people like Woodward point out Trump’s background as a way of extrapolating how he might formulate policies. As it happens, Trump touted his superior deal-making skills during the Republican primary in 2016.
However, Woodward’s blasé dismissal of President Trump’s background of “selling things” is a painfully reductionist assessment of The Donald. Woodward is expressing a sentiment shared by the Mainstream Media, the Democratic Party, and much of academia.
Essentially what Woodward is saying is that Trump has no real beliefs. Woodward is saying that Trump’s version of capitalism comports with both Marx and Lenin’s cynical definition that capitalists will sell out anyone and anything for short-term profit.
Indeed, the scion of the Republican Establishment, Charles Krauthammer trashed Trump’s inaugural address. He claimed on “The O’Reilly Factor” that the speech represented the ultimate victory of populism over conservatism (why do these have to be mutually exclusive, by the way?). He then lamented that Trump’s election was the official end of the Age of Reagan.
By this view, Trump is an opportunist who will lie, cajole, and trick his way into getting a deal that he believes is beneficial. But beneficial to whom? Krauthammer implies that Trump seeks to serve himself, only. But Trump has said, he seeks to represent the American people. Unlike many of the Washington intelligentsia, Trump has no use for lobbyists, the press, or for the status quo. He also cares little for the opinions of academia. His supporters get his undivided attention. His inaugural address, which repeated many of the same themes voiced routinely during the campaign, is proof that Trump is not lying to the voters.
So, what is his purpose? I believe he has been consistent from the start of the campaign: he is going to make America great again. He is going to do so by enacting an agenda that places America first.
Woodward, Krauthammer, and the rest of the Beltway Boys maintain that Trump is doing all of this for show. They think (or rather, they hope) he won’t enact any of the really “scary” pieces of the agenda (because he doesn’t believe those things himself, according to these “expert” analysts).
I beg to differ.
Even as Krauthammer and Woodward were prattling on about how Trump loyalists had better brace themselves for betrayal and disappointment by the smarmy Trump, the 45th president was seated in the Oval Office, overriding key components of the Affordable Care Act. The side-by-side comparison on TV was unbelievable, even humorous. Keep in mind, as Krauthammer and his compatriots in the establishment conservative media were dining with Obama during the Obamacare fight, the Republican Party’s base revolted and formed the Tea Party.
In fact, when writing on Obama’s infamous 2009 dinner with members of the conservative intelligentsia, the Huffington Post’s Jacob Heilbrunn observed that the dinner “indicates that Obama is completing the job of detaching the conservative intellectual elite from the GOP itself.” Judging from the commentary I’ve heard over the last year, I’d say Heilbrunn was fairly prescient.
In certain respects Trump represents the “Tea Party wing” of the Republican Party. He made headway during the primaries by campaigning to those hated populists—the silent majority, as he called them. In a stunning twist and break with precedent, he didn’t abandon them once he won the GOP nomination. What’s more, in his first day as president, he has implemented key policies that appeal directly to this voting bloc (remember Romney waffling on repealing Obamacare in 2012? Not so with Trump!).
Further, Trump’s cabinet is chock full of people who share the concerns and ideas of this Tea Party wing of the GOP. These are individuals who are uncompromising in their commitment to American-oriented education reform, legal interpretation, economic programs, and defense policies. Trump being a CEO, is used to delegating authority to his team of subordinates. Trust me, the Trump Administration is going to enact the most conservative legislation we’ve seen since the days of Reagan.
Given that Trump has a Republican-majority in Congress, the legislation that Trump signs into law will undoubtedly have the red meat that every conservative pines for in legislation.
While Trump is seeking to make deals, he’s not a mindless automaton. Trump makes a deal in order to further an agenda. He’s also not naïve. Trump understands that The People elected him to undo much of the legacy bequeathed to us by the Leftist policies of the last eight years or more.
Listening to the media’s inauguration coverage, hearing the analyses of the purported experts—from Charles Krauthammer to Bob Woodward—we should all see through the pretense by now. People need to recognize that the “experts” just don’t get it. Because they don’t get it, they resent us. This resentment blinds them from ever really understanding Trump. As such, it leads the media to negatively (and inaccurately) portray Trump.
Don’t buy the hype and don’t start listening to the media now: the Beltway Boys still don’t get it. They’ve been wrong about Trump at every juncture. The Bob Woodwards of the world are still trying to plug Trump into a system that no longer exists. At some point, they will either have to admit that they’re wrong or lose their business. Unfortunately for them, Trump means what he says and will govern accordingly.
So, my fellow Americans: here’s to the next four years! #MAGA