The agents of the status quo are at it again. CNN host Fareed Zakaria’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post excoriates President Trump for his administration’s “lack of forward movement.” Zakaria took to the Post’s pages to compare Trump’s administration with the motion of a rocking horse. Zakaria cautioned Trump’s supporters not to “confuse motion and progress”and followed up with the cloyingly pedantic question, “What has he actually done?”
In just a month, the president has pushed through executive orders that begin the process of lowering taxes, repealing Obamacare, and protecting Americans from terrorism (to say nothing of the Trump economic rally after he won the election). While most of his actions have been controversial and necessarily limited without further implementation by Congress, they are simply laying the groundwork for the legislation that ought to follow.
Shocking though it may seem, President Trump has only been in office for about a month and has some regard for the constitutional separation of powers that limits the scope of his executive privilege. Yet, as Zakaria points out Trump “has dominated the news nearly every day.”
To Zakaria, for some reason, this is a bad thing. And yet he and his colleagues persist in making so what he decries by leading off every story and every broadcast with an examination of Trump, his words, his deeds, and what they imagine to be his intentions.
Zakaria and his friends in the Davoisie believe that it’s beneath the dignity of people such as themselves to consult the opinions of the plebes (which explains why CNN’s ratings are consistently so low) or, what’s worse, take them into account when enacting public policy. So Trump’s actions, however many of them there may be, cannot amount to “progress” in Zakaria’s eyes simply because they are the “wrong” actions.
Even still, I seem to remember reading about the elite’s “gold standard” for presidencies—Franklin Delano Roosevelt—and his “fireside chats” broadcast over by radio to reach the common man. I also remember learning about JFK’s glitzy (and often libidinous) lifestyle which served to awe and impress this same audience. Reagan’s status as an actor may have harmed his likability among the bi-coastal elites, but it endeared him to the People. Clinton’s love of the saxophone and his choice to perform with it on a late night television program made him seem cool and likable (we’ll leave his love of cigars out of this conversation). Meanwhile, George W. Bush was the guy that everyone wanted to have a beer with (despite having been sober for over a decade when he ran in 2000). Even Obama had a way to reach the general population as he fled Washington, D.C. to perform endless campaign stops as president, in order to generate support for his Leftist policies.
Donald Trump, like FDR, is simply pioneering a new way for a President to stay connected to his voters. When FDR and JFK did it, they were lauded as enlightened and brilliant communicators and for ushering in a new standard for modern presidents. When Republicans like Reagan or Trump do it, the likes of Michael Kinsley or Fareed Zakaria take to the presses to excoriate them as “not terribly bright” or being without substance.
Zakaria also laments the adversarial relationship between the Trump Administration and the press. Since when did the media become indignant about a President bullying the press? I certainly don’t remember Zakaria (or many others for that matter) rushing to the defense of Fox News’ James Rosen when the Obama Administration bullied him. In fact, the press should love Trump: Look at how much time he spends engaging with them. Yet, when Trump defends himself, especially when he goes around the media to keep in touch with his supporters, he’s castigated by the Davoisie elite. Which, of course, is exactly what he wants.
Then there is the oft-repeated talking point: “In their respective first 100 days in office, FiveThirtyEight calculates, Bill Clinton had passed 24 bills; John Kennedy, 26; Harry Truman, 55; and FDR, 76.” It’s as if they’re talking about football stats! We have rankings and statistics for everything. But, comparing Bill Clinton’s numbers with FDR’s or contrasting Trump’s and JFK’s initial legislative victories is meaningless. The context, the times, the purposes, and the people involved are all different.
Who cares how many legislative victories other presidents had in their first 100 days? Do you think Lincoln sat around thinking, “Gee, Washington got a lot of legislation passed in his first 100 days so I’d better also?” No, sorry, Lincoln was too busy saving the Union. Everything he did was focused on that singular objective. This is similar to the kind of crisis that Trump is facing today.
Indeed, the entire notion of a president’s first 100 days is something that Leftist presidential historians glommed onto when FDR concocted the term in a 1933 radio address. Since the 1960s political scientists have used it to turn FDR into the standard not only of Democratic presidents, but of all presidents. With that absurd standard, academicians have fashioned the first 100 days into a cudgel to make (mostly) Republican presidents look bad. Fareed Zakaria and others today are simply walking that well-worn path. But that path is not the one that Trump is walking. He’s on an entirely different road going in the opposite direction. Fareed and his friends are going to Davos while President Trump is headed to Youngstown, Ohio.
Trump is a Republican representing a restorative populist movement.Trump is not interested in pushing a prescribed volume of legislation, particularly not of the variety that Zakaria and his kindred spirits in the media and academia are interested in measuring. Trump is not seeking to expand the role of the federal government in the lives of citizens. He is interested in restoring their power over that government.
Imagine a political scientist trying to compare FDR’s first 100 days with, say, Calvin Coolidge’s. There is no comparison. Coolidge isn’t even going to show up for that competition. Coolidge was all about limiting government’s size and scope. More to the point, Coolidge would have considered himself a failure if he thought he had performed well on this false metric.
Zakaria reiterates that President Trump’s executive orders are akin to “bread and circuses”—great fanfare that amuses the masses but that ultimately do nothing “substantive.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has repeatedly stated his commitment to passing Trump’s tax cut proposal, the Obamacare repeal, and attending to a litany of other important reforms in the first 200 days of the Trump Administration. I wish they could move faster. But, with the Democrats constantly stalling the approval of Trump cabinet appointees, with former Obama appointees in the Deep State insinuating that the president is a Russian stooge, and with the Leftists burning American cities down, passing substantive legislation aimed at undoing the destruction of a century of progressivism is made all the more difficult.
Fact is, restoring the sovereignty of the people over their government is akin to a marathon, not a sprint. The Davoisie are going to throw everything at Trump—including Russian hookers—in order to protect their rapidly eroding monopoly. Trump’s best asset is his supporters and his ability to communicate directly with them. For now, the Republicans in Congress seem content to move his agenda forward. Trump must continue being strong (and being perceived as strong) for them to continue pushing his—our—agenda forward.
Don’t listen to the likes of Fareed Zakaria because they don’t get it. Frankly, they don’t want to get it. Trump’s executive orders are more than just “hot air.” These actions are the first steps of many toward laying the groundwork for passing monumental pieces of reform legislation. These executive orders are the beginning, not the end, of enacting the Trump agenda for America.