We're six months into the Trump presidency and it's worth asking: When you eliminate the febrile fantasies of the left (sometimes called "journalism" or "the news" by people who work in "journalism" or "the news") and when you tune out the grave harumphs of the intellectual He's-Not-Quite-The-Thing right wing, and when you ignore too the lovestruck dreamy-dreams of the Trump Right or Wrong Fan Club, what are we left with?
In fact, it seems to me — a reluctant Trump voter — President The Donald has done a pretty darn good job so far. Rough-hewn, inexperienced and sometimes too much of a loudmouth for his own and the country's good, he has nonetheless managed to increase American freedom and productivity while dragging us back from the brink of the Moribund European Socialist Please-Kill-Us-Mohammed anti-Western vision of the last guy who held the office.
There's the great Supreme Court pick, of course. Plus he's eliminated sixteen old federal regulations for every new one put in place. He's made American foreign policy sane again by re-aligning us with Israel and pulling out of the nonsense Paris climate accord. You can talk about the non-wall all you like, but the drop in illegal border crossings under this president is, according to the head of the National Border Patrol union, "nothing short of miraculous." Stock market's up. Unemployment's down. Housing sales are up. ISIS is down. Oh, and Trump's brutal thrashing of our utterly corrupt and dishonest news media has been a joy to behold.
But what about important legislation or the lack thereof? Well, that's a fair question. The massive Senate fail on Obamacare repeal is a disgrace and an embarrassment. Some blame Rand Paul's ceaseless I-Sure-Want-to-Repeal-Obamacare-But routine. Some blame the weaksauce dithering of the RINOs. And some blame the too-uncompromising posture of conservatives. Me, I blame them all, every damn one of them. They're a party. They need to get together and act for the good of the country and the president. They said they'd do it. They voted to do it when they knew it didn't count. Each one of them needs to sacrifice something and all need to get to yes together. (And Rand Paul needs to take his posturing face off TV and join them.)
However. That said. It is the president's job to help make this happen. Barack Obama knew this. When he was pushing the disaster of Obamacare down our throats, the president got out there and made somewhere between thirty and forty speeches about how we could keep our doctors and how our premiums would go down. Okay, he was a lying scoundrel, but you can't fault him for neglecting the task at hand.
At a lunch this week with the GOP senators, President Trump said it well: "Democrats were always selling their plan... and we never sell our plan. If we're weak on anything, it's on letting people know how good it is."
Right. Except someone has got to explain to Le Grand Orange that that's actually his job. Attacking Obamacare, explaining the repeal plan, holding GOP lawmakers' feet to the fire. That's what the president does. That's how this stuff happens.
The good news is: Trump has a real talent for it. He showed that at the lunch. "You know, for seven years, you had an easy route," he told the senators. "'We'll repeal! We'll replace!' And [Obama's] never gonna sign it. But I'm signing it. So it's a little bit different."
That's it, champ. That's how you do the whole president thing. But you can't just do it at one lunch. You've got to do it and do it and do it again until you drag that damn bill over the finish line.
Like all of us, I've watched Trump closely. He learns stuff. He gets smarter as he goes. At this late date, he's probably not going to fix his personality flaws. Hell, at this late date, I may not fix mine either. But who cares? CNN can cover his gaffes till their ratings match their credibility at zero. If Trump can learn to do this one thing — shepherd the Congress from Big Talk Promise to Real Life Law — he will stand a chance of becoming a genuinely excellent president.
When he started out, I did not believe that was possible. If he pulls it off, it will be the best crow I ever ate.