The President Deserves a Good Solid Pass

The entire focus on President Trump’s first hundred days was just an effort by the media opposition to proclaim his administration a failure. No president of the United States has accomplished much in his first three months except Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took office in March 1933, with 30 percent unemployment and no direct relief for them, and all stock and commodities exchanges and banks in 46 states closed indefinitely. He had large congressional majorities and a bipartisan consensus to take radical measures, echoed by the unanimous media.

Roosevelt sounded the tocsin—“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”—and the comprehensive New Deal program that followed salvaged 95 percent of the economic system and created a safety net that saw the country through to full employment with vast workfare programs on conservation and what would today be called infrastructure, followed by the greatest rearmament program in history.

align=”left” In fact, the president deserves a good solid pass since January 20. There was no honeymoon and the war he declared 18 months ago and has conducted against all factions of both parties, the bureaucracy, media, academia, Hollywood, Wall Street and every adult in the District of Columbia, was not even suspended for him to take the oath of office.

Obviously, there is not the slightest valid comparison between those times and these. Unfortunately, the current president referred to 100 days early on, and his opponents piled on, so a worldwide contest ensued over who could most vociferously proclaim the failure of his official start.

To some extent he appeared to cooperate with his enemies by acknowledging it was a more difficult office than he had anticipated, which made him appear naïve in his early ambitions for his term, and defensive about his performance to date. It was as awkward a statement as President Obama’s acknowledgement that he had underestimated the difficulty of finding a Middle East peace formula. Given that even the Roman and Ottoman Empires could only impose such a peace quite temporarily for a few of the last 45 centuries, this was an astonishing admission.

In fact, the president deserves a good solid pass since January 20. There was no honeymoon and the war he declared 18 months ago and has conducted against all factions of both parties, the bureaucracy, media, academia, Hollywood, Wall Street and every adult in the District of Columbia, was not even suspended for him to take the oath of office. He has patched things together pretty well with the Republicans, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) botched health care so badly he owes the president a better standard of service.

Trump has moved to repair relations with the financial community and has held his popularity in the low- to mid-40’s, which is at least manageable. He has also been more tactically skillful than his political and media enemies could have imagined. The president has patiently endured the preposterous overreach of carefully shopped, flaky-Left, West Coast judges trying to restrain his immigration authority, rather than just ignoring them as had been hoped by the Democrats so they could build on the fraud that Trump is a compulsive autocrat. He has filled the vacancy on the Supreme Court so there is no early prospect of the administrative state sought by recent Democrats that would authorize almost any government initiative, no matter how offensive to the authors of the Constitution.

And he has reduced illegal immigration by around 70 percent, instituted his enhanced screening procedures at point of arrival rather than embarkation, and will undoubtedly be sustained by the Supreme Court. The media will go to the customary lengths to withhold from Trump any credit for his substantive and tactical success when that happens, but the Democrats, dulled though their senses are in most respects, will know when the stuffings have been knocked out of them that something is amiss.

The unutterably fatuous canard that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government will wither amid the ziggurat of layered investigations, but the Republicans will be able to ensure that this happens without undue delay and that it receives adequate publicity as it collapses around the ears of the egregious congressman from Hollywood, Adam Schiff.

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof claimed to detect in this nonsense “the whiff of treason,” but it must have been the olfactory ambiance generated by the opinion section of his employer that assaulted and frightened his sensibilities. The president has dismantled the engine of self-punitive disemployment and harassment imposed by the climate change hysterics in the previous administration, and has facilitated increased oil and gas production to start to address the open wound of the current account deficit.

And Trump has started to rationalize foreign policy, with a solid foreign and national security policy team. “Red lines” drawn in evaporating ink have been replaced by well-targeted Tomahawk missiles, and there are the beginnings of renegotiated arrangements with Russia and Turkey over Syria, and with Moscow ultimately over the former Soviet Union republics; and with China over North Korea, a monster which Beijing has nurtured and encouraged. Anti-missile defenses are being deployed in South Korea and allies are being pulled together in East Asia.

It is a pretty good record for such a short time, and the president has not sent out a damaging tweet in many weeks. But the second echelons of the government are still empty and are being occupied pro tempore by chronic D.C. Democrats above their pay grades, many of whom would rather serve the nation by sandbagging the president. It all needs a sharper, crisper execution, and an air of smooth professionalism.

Economic growth has slowed steadily for 30 years, and everything rides now on getting tax reform, which will probably have to include some revenue-raising measures, such as taxes on elective spending and most elective financial transactions. (Wall Street can be compensated by getting rid of 90 percent of Dodd Frank and Sarbanes Oxley.) The president is winning but this loopy opposition is being allowed to do him more damage than they should, and the Democrats will not start cooing about “reaching across the aisle” (physically and verbally awkward), until they have been taken to the woodshed. The Republicans will have to pass tax and health care reform on their own. It can and must be done to end the death watch on the Trump administration and bring the once-loyal opposition back to whatever is left of their senses.

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About Conrad Black

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.