As a conservative Republican, I harbored concerns when I voted last November for Donald Trump to be my president. I knew that I had to vote for him, given the unacceptable alternative of an incompetent liar who had placed me in a basket of “Deplorables”; had destroyed 33,000 emails that she covertly maintained on her bathroom server while telling me that the emails all concerned yoga classes and wedding dresses; had lied to me and the families of those who fell in Benghazi about what had really happened there on another 9/11; and really had nothing to show for decades of public activity but a résumé of failure from HillaryCare, Whitewater, and Travelgate to a mediocre tenure in the State Department.
Her “Russian reset” had been a disaster. She had met many dozens of world figures, logged many thousands of miles of air travel, and had eaten well at many state banquets, but she had nothing of lasting substance to show for it all. During her State Department tenure, the “Arab Spring” devolved into a nightmarish winter. ISIS grew from a junior varsity to the major leagues of barbarism and terror. And she even had found the opportunity to scream on the phone at the Prime Minister of Israel, while denying the Jewish right to build without restriction in Jerusalem.
So I voted unhesitatingly for Trump. But, again, I had concerns.
Although I recoiled from the Republicans-in-Name-Only and “Never Trumpers,” I did share some of their bemusement. Would he be a true conservative, or was he really a liberal and a conservative hybrid at once, a man bereft of grounded ideology who simply tilted with the direction of the day’s breeze, capable of being turned by the last voice to compliment him?
Would he truly appoint conservative federal judges and Supreme Court justices, or would his judicial legacy be another Republican flop like the Nixon liberal appointments after Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell, or like George H. W. Bush’s disastrous appointment of David Souter? Would he keep his promises? Would he have a clue?
That was then. Now, six months into Trump’s first term, I could not be more pleased with the president we elected. He is better than I ever imagined, and he is the real thing. That is the reason that voter surveys continue to show that President Trump has not lost any support among the base who elected him, and that he does as well now as before in the counties throughout the country that he carried as his base.
So What? Who Cares?
I do not care a whit about the “Russia stuff.” That is what I call it: the “Russia stuff.” Whether it is about Russian “collusion” or deals that Jared Kushner did or did not negotiate, or whom Attorney General Jeff Sessions met when he was a U.S. senator, or where former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort did business, or the telephone contacts of Michael Flynn—the moment that I see the word “Russia” in a headline about the White House, I skip the story. Although I am a “news junkie,” I simply do not care. For me, the subject has as much relevance as a soccer game: Yawn.
I even have stopped watching almost all of Fox News, even though Tucker Carlson’s solid conservatism is an improvement over Bill O’Reilly’s softer version, and the network is so much stronger without Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren. I simply have no more interest in wasting my time with “fair and balanced debate,” to sit and listen to some liberal hack named Tarlov or Roginsky recite memorized talking points, or a fool named Marie Harf who used her State Department platform to explain that ISIS beheadings stemmed from a lack of job opportunities. (Remember: #JobsForISIS?)
For my news I have moved to the Fox Business channel, and I treat myself to Stuart Varney, Melissa Francis, Lou Dobbs and insightful conservative guests who do not waste my time. And, although I once was a Johnny Carson and Jay Leno regular, I no longer watch those late night talk shows. Instead, I choose between Ken Burns documentaries, MLB.TV’s “Quick Pitch,” and studying the Talmud. Same for “Saturday Night Live.” The moment the Washington Post began reporting every Monday on that show’s latest political slams against the Trump White House, I decided to turn elsewhere for my Saturday night entertainment. Besides, that show stopped being funny decades ago.
But what about all of Trump’s tweeting? Is Trump a nut? And what about the time he devotes to tweeting and to watching “Fox & Friends” and “Morning Joe”?
I don’t know. Maybe he is a nut. Yet, as an Orthodox rabbi who has counseled hundreds of people over 35 years, and as a high-stakes litigation attorney who has counseled and represented hundreds more, I will share a secret that is not protected by any professional rule of privilege: most people are nuts. (For verification, just ask their spouses, their parents-in-law, and their grown kids.) And most people have side hobbies that “waste time.” I wasted time these past four months watching the Mets. How many hours did President Kennedy waste running after Judith Exner, Marilyn Monroe, and others whom I do not know—and keeping it all secret from his wife? How many hours did President Nixon waste dealing with the Watergate cover-up? How many hours did President Ford need to devote lovingly to his wife as she battled bravely to overcome certain private challenges? How many hours did President Clinton set aside for Paula Corbin Jones, Kathleen Willey, Monica Lewinsky, and dealing with the subsequent fallout emanating from them and from Juanita Broaddrick?
It would seem that the only president who initially wasted no time but devoted every moment’s focus to every detail of government was Jimmy Carter. How did that work out? In the end, he was consumed by the Iran hostage crisis, and we were consumed by him.
Does Twitter take more time away from the work day than those distractions? How long does it take to type 140 characters, even in five or six strings?
What Really Matters
We conservatives do not care about these side stories and Democrat smokescreens that aim to divert this president and us from the agenda to make America great again. Rather, here is what we have come to know these six months since Trump took office:
Republicans have won every seriously contested Congressional election since President Trump was elected. It is absurd to think that, when push comes to shove, Republican voters in 2018 would allow Red State Democrats to sweep the U.S. Senate merely because Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren engage in screeds, while in the House, Maxine Waters calls for the president to be impeached or exiled, or both.
We do not mind that the president fired FBI Director James Comey. This is a man who we now know leaked secret internal information to the New York Times. Notwithstanding that Comey did not trust the president, it was just as reasonable for the president to determine that he could not trust Comey—just as the Democrats long before could not trust Comey and also wanted him fired. Comey interfered with the election process more than Vladimir Putin ever did, arrogated to himself the authority to absolve Hillary Clinton despite his own recognition that she had committed serious federal crimes, and never dealt with the Deep State within his department.
President Trump somehow has managed to lead for six months, despite the most hostile media gangland in a century and more, and he has gained important governing experience along the way, just as the neophyte Obama learned his way around after arriving at the White House with little more than a background in community organizing, a pair of Greek or Roman columns, and a paperback copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.
President Trump has appointed an extraordinary team of cabinet secretaries, and they are a better and more reliably conservative team than Ronald Reagan ever assembled. While President Reagan not only named Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court but also Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, President Trump has named Neil Gorsuch, and the future names in waiting are likely equally impressive. For all the “Resistance” tactics that the Democrats deployed during the Gorsuch battle, the president did not give ground, and he leveraged Harry Reid’s blunder of ending the filibuster rule for federal judicial appointments to get the nomination through. The president’s team now is working to fill the 129 other open federal judicial seats awaiting judges. As he proceeds, we will see balance return to the federal district courts that conduct trials and the federal appellate courts that ultimately settle most of America’s laws, and his own immediate experiences in seeing his entry ban navigate through the courts has taught him that federal judges matter on all levels.
On the energy front, we no longer awake each morning to learn of new Obama-era regulations aimed at strangling American energy independence. Instead, the Keystone XL pipeline was approved, as promised. Obama executive orders have been reversed at dizzying speed. Although a new era has changed the place of “King Coal” in the energy spectrum, the “War on Coal” is ended, as promised, and America is back on the path to end its partial dependency on the dirty oil produced by dictators and thugs from Venezuela to Saudi Arabia—oil drilled and extracted in tyrannies where environmental concerns are a joke—and we now even are inducing allies like Poland in Europe to consider moving their own energy contracts away from Russia and towards the United States.
Trump promised action on immigration, and he has begun the process of inviting bidders to compete for federal contracts to build that wall. Truth is, most of us do not care ultimately who pays for it; we separate his bluster from his substance. That substance already has driven down illegal immigration markedly. And the “bad dudes” really are being hunted by ICE and are being deported or locked up, not merely released on their own recognizance with a promise maybe someday to show up for an immigration hearing, perhaps.
The Underlying Challenge: Congress
We know that the reality of democracy is complicated, and that our Founding Fathers crafted an elegant system of checks and balances for a reason.
Yes, the Republicans now control the House, the Senate, the White House, and the Supreme Court—for which we all thank Barack Obama daily—but the sophisticates among us also recognize that 52 Republican Senators is too razor-thin a margin for a bold Trump agenda to flourish.
For example, Susan Collins represents Blue Maine, and she simply cannot be a Tea Party senator. We need another half-dozen Red State Republican senators, and contrary to the common wisdom, help may be on the way.
Meanwhile, we know that President Trump has done his best to corral the team to reverse the tragedy of Obamacare, but he has been disrupted meanwhile by a crazy filibuster voting rule, an even crazier series of rules regarding “reconciliation,” a liberal Democrat stationed as the Senate’s “Parliamentarian,” and an utterly incoherent and incomprehensible rule regarding the Congressional Budget Office whose projections repeatedly have proven false and imaginary in health care and everything else. If people are told that they no longer will be penalized and coerced to buy health insurance they do not want, of course millions will drop the plans foisted on them. That is not properly termed “millions losing insurance”; that is “millions choosing of their own free will not to pay for something they do not want and do not value.”
We know this president and this Congress will pass a major tax cut before the 2018 elections because Trump wants it, his economic team has it mapped out, and the House and Senate would not dare go to the voters next year without a tax cut. Watch for Red State Democrats, facing electoral elimination, to be passionate supporters of a Republican tax bill. It will happen, and this president will sign it. Of that we have no doubt.
Cut Through the Noise These Next 18 Months
So we have a very strong determination to stand by this president, to give him more Senators in 18 months, and to give him another four years in Washington before Maxine Waters exiles him.
We do not care that Europeans and their leaders like America less now than they did when Obama was president. Most children like their grandparents more than they like their parents because Gramps and Granny have no rules, feed them candy, and let them stay up all night, while the parents make the kids do their homework, brush their teeth, and clean their rooms. Obama was cheered by throngs in Berlin, giggled with Hugo Chavez, and salsaed in Cuba in front of Castro. Sure they loved him—they even gave him a Nobel Peace Prize, just as they previously had given one to Yasser Arafat, before he did anything.
We want a president who goes to Europe, tells them to pay the bills they promised to pay NATO, and gets results. We want him extricating us from climate pacts and trade agreements that do not serve our interests. Along the way, our allies from Japan to Israel to England know they now have a reliable leader in the White House, not a team of kibbitzers who send James Taylor to Paris to sing “You’ve Got a Friend” as an American response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France.
Americans want jobs, and this president now is forward on rebuilding the nation’s long-neglected infrastructure, while emphasizing the importance of “Buying American” and restoring America’s historical role in manufacturing. We want lower taxes and an America where we pay only for the health coverage options we want. We do not want to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills or Planned Parenthood’s abortions, although many of us are copacetic with their family planning and social counseling. We want trade agreements that protect American jobs and that recognize that international polluters like China and India and the misogynistic Arab oil sheikhdoms need to catch up with our clean-environment practices before we continue marching like lemmings over industrial cliffs while the mass polluters scoop up our forfeited interests.
As the president now begins his next six months in office, we among his supporters have learned to tune out the nonsense that defines the lazy legislators in the Washington Beltway who prefer to mull over Mueller than to craft landmark health legislation that passes.
Yes, we have seen the president mature in office. He has made some important pinpointed staff changes. He is moving away from abiding the daily media circus. For those Democrats who warned with alarm and portents of peril that Donald Trump could not be trusted with the nuclear codes, we have seen that he has assembled a remarkable defense team, that he has authorized a surgical MOAB strike in Afghanistan and the dispatch of 59 cruise missiles to bombard clearly designated Syrian targets without embroiling us in a Middle East war that America should avoid. He has acted with care and delicacy in confronting the serious problem in North Korea, giving the lie to those who argued that he would be hot-headed and unable to lead.
For those of us who voted for Donald Trump last November—many of us with some concern—we support him even more today than we did then. Though we occasionally recoil from the more outlandish, we have come to prefer reading his tweets more than we did reading about Clinton’s sexual harassment scandals. And we have learned to disregard the “Russian stuff” like so much “white noise” that rivals the sound of a tree falling in the middle of a forest for irrelevance.