“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” — attributed, incorrectly, to James A. Garfield, 20th president of the United States.
If he had applied this to his own case, Garfield would have been prescient: He was freed from earthly concerns by an assassin’s bullet after only 200 days in office, enduring a wretched death. Historians dismiss his brief presidency, but Garfield did not leave the office without accomplishment.
He strengthened presidential power and promoted new agricultural technology, civil rights, and educating the common man. He proposed civil service reforms that became law two years after he passed. All we remember today, however, is how his time came to an end.
Today, most of Donald Trump’s adversaries, with the repellant exception of Kathy Griffin, hope his presidency will end differently, but end just the same. A stunning 43 percent of voters would drag the country through the wrenching process of impeachment to remove Donald Trump from the Oval Office. And the Washington press corps would cheer, leaving them mystified that Trump’s voters stick with him. How could the rabble have a different understanding of this presidency? What do they see that Washington doesn’t?
Consider This List
If you are Vladimir Putin’s Russia, you have been set back on your heels by the unpredictable new president of the United States, finding your Syrian puppet state on the receiving end of 59 Tomahawk missiles. As David Ignatius noted, “the Syria operation, [was] generally praised at home and abroad,” renewing respect for American strength. You’ve also seen the United states add a battalion to NATO’s front-lines to deter Russian aggression. It was not at Putin’s request.
If you are Chinese President Xi Jinping, you have opened up markets for financial investments and American beef and have enriched trade relations. You have also given North Korea’s Kim Jung Un inspiration to blow up himself up a little more slowly, knocking down Chinese imports from North Korea 35 percent just in March, taking millions out of the pocket of the little despot with the tragic haircut.
If you are an American company thinking about shipping jobs overseas, you are thinking again, thanks to Trump. The damage to your brand may offset savings from cheaper foreign labor. If you are a union member, you like that American companies are working harder to stay American. If you want a growing global economy that works for all nations, without taking advantage of American workers, you’ve seen Trump do more than talk about free and fair trade. Your president has fought for it.
If you are an American defense contractor, you are sharpening your pencil and cutting costs because you know this president will renegotiate your tab in public. Just ask Boeing, whose CEO was suddenly inspired to lower the price of the new Air Force 1. “All of that is going to provide a better airplane at a lower cost, so I’m pleased with the progress there,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said.
If you are a small business, you are already shedding outdated, unnecessary, duplicative regulations that have kept you from growing. Rick Scott of Florida is one of the many governors who has found a pro-growth, can-do attitude among Trump cabinet secretaries, who are streamlining their department’s regulatory processes. If you are a regular Joe who wants a job from in one of those small businesses, you think it is great to have the government on your side again.
Wait, There’s More
If you want the Supreme Court to call balls and strikes and not overstep its bounds by legislating from the bench, you will be dancing in the street for decades thanks to Donald Trump’s inspired pick of Neil Gorsuch.
If you are a hard-working American who wants jobs and growth, you think it is a good idea for House and Senate Republicans to embrace Trump’s proposed tax cut for job makers, which would double the deduction for couples to $24,000 a year. A little Viagra for our economy is okay.
If you are the Saudi royal family, you’ve seen the president of the United States bring the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority nations together to listen to America. You’ve seen President Trump look you in the eye, call on you to extinguish “Islamic extremism” and exhort you to “drive out the terrorists from your places of worship.” You’ve heard the president say your private funding of terror has to end.
If you want to see a stronger NATO, where currently only 4 of 28 nations have met their 2 percent funding commitments, you think it is time an American president let Europe know we cannot shoulder the world’s burdens alone without those nations honoring their word.
And if you are Republican who believes the less Washington achieves, the better it is for the nation, you are smiling that Congress is paralyzed and hasn’t passed a flood of legislation. You are hoping Trump keeps his foot on the brake.
There is even good news for the fake news industry: You are getting “yuge ratings” and raking in advertising revenue, thanks to President Trump. We should expect MSNBC, the new number one in cable, to be grateful.
That’s Not to Overlook the Failures
Even so, Trump is his own worst enemy. He undercuts his employees in public, making it hard to recruit talent. (Mr. President, you need to build your army to fight their army.) He runs the large ship of state like it’s a tiny speedboat, yanking the wheel erratically in all directions, scaring a nation of 326 million passengers. He has little respect for the consensus-building process required to run the largest enterprise in the world.
From self-regarding speeches at the Central Intelligence Agency to his ham-fisted firing of James Comey and now returning intelligence compounds to Putin while five major investigations look into his campaign’s ties to Russia, this president finds endless ways to tie together his own shoelaces. For good and ill, he craves media attention like oxygen. That’s the one trait Trump shares with the media: They will both do anything to attract eyeballs though, ironically, the media criticizes him for their shared obsession.
I’d buy this president a pair of boxing gloves to impair his access to Twitterland, but perhaps without Trump the Tweeter in Chief, he would not be the disruptive president the nation elected. Trump supporters, who are not blind to the president’s debilities, judge it a price they must pay.
Still, it is worth looking through all the fireworks and noise that Trump and the media symbiotically create, each to their detriment and advantage. Beyond his inconvenient propensity to throw hand-grenades straight up in the air, a different picture of this president emerges. Maybe, inconceivably, against all establishment conventional wisdom and experience, Donald Trump’s America sees their president doing a good job, standing up to the two bankrupt political parties that have failed them.
They believe there is a chance that Trump could make America great again if he is not brought down by his own disruptive ego. With the presidency balanced between ego and accomplishment, the nation holds its breath, teetering on a razor’s edge. And he’s only been president 132 days.