Trump: Beneath the chaos, a year of promises kept?
We know what the media thinks, said Christopher Buskirk in USAToday.com, but by any objective “measure of personal and national prosperity, the nation is better off than it was a year ago,” when Donald Trump was sworn in as our 45th president. While his critics spent the year obsessing about phony Russia scandals, White House intrigue, and the president’s Twitter feed, Trump and his “all-star Cabinet” were lowering taxes, filling the federal courts with constitutionalists, and cracking down on illegal immigration. The numbers impress across the board, said Deroy Murdock in NationalReview.com. The Dow Jones has soared some 6,000 points, and unemployment fell to 4.1 percent, the lowest rate since 2001. Deep cuts to the corporate tax rate, and the repeal of “some 1,500 absurd and intrusive regulations” on business, have unleashed “rampant economic growth” whose effects on salaries and workers are only just starting to be felt. To any honest observer, Trump has “overdelivered on all expectations.”
Take off your blinders, said Tom Nichols in WashingtonPost.com. Yes, Trump has ushered in some policy changes that are “pretty standard fare for a Republican White House,” and his own ineptitude and his coterie of supervising generals have blocked him from indulging his craziest impulses. None of that compensates for the corrosive “daily damage” Trump has inflicted on the nation and the moral health of the Republican Party. My fellow conservatives once believed in fiscal prudence, civility, and the importance of character. In only a year, Trump has trained them to support accused child molesters for office, “blithely applaud the addition of $1 trillion in debt,” downplay Russia’s outrageous election interference, and even shrug off Trump’s own “alleged payoffs to porn stars.” Meanwhile, with his unhinged tweeting, his overt racism, his crude bullying of aides and critics, and his disdain of our foreign allies, “Trump has deprived the presidency of its majesty, its gravity, and its ability to inspire.” Trump’s first year has been “an unremitting parade of disgraces” that he doesn’t even recognize as mistakes, said Sean Wilentz in NYTimes.com. That “portends a very unhappy ending.”
Trump is certainly “not normal,” said Mollie Hemingway in WashingtonPost.com, “but sometimes that’s a plus.” Three previous presidents had promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but Trump was the only one who had the guts to do it. He also withdrew the U.S. from the ineffective and economically ruinous Paris climate accord, and suspended aid to Pakistan until it stops harboring terrorists. I don’t much care for Trump’s childish “rhetorical style,” but as a conservative looking only at his policy record, “I’m elated.”
This is how the Right loses its soul, said Jennifer Rubin, also in WashingtonPost.com: As long as Trump delivers “policy nuggets,” formerly principled conservatives will dismiss his constant lying, attacks on democratic norms and institutions, and undisguised authoritarian yearnings as merely unfortunate “matters of style.” The GOP’s abject surrender to Trump is the most alarming development of his first year, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. House Republicans are now running a counterinvestigation of the FBI, while Fox News talking heads are calling for a “purge” of law-enforcement officials who don’t support “our president.” That doesn’t sound like America. So far, the checks on Trump’s power have held up. “Will they hold up for the duration?” That will be determined “by a political fight of still-undetermined outcome.” ■