I want to support President Trump. While I vehemently disagree with him on tariffs and hope he reverses course, his agenda of deregulation is good. His tax cutting policy is good. His judicial picks are good. His walk away from the Paris Accord is good. Moving the Israeli Embassy is good. Getting out of the Iran deal is good. All these things are good.
The President has picked good advisors and in some cases great advisors. Except for his trade advisors, he is surrounded with good people I have long respected from Mike Pence to John Bolton to Mike Pompeo to Nikki Haley to Rick Perry to James Mattis and more.
But at the end of the day, the buck stops with President Trump. It is his gut, his decision making, his willingness or unwillingness to take advice, and his temperament that matter. He can surround himself with the very best people, but if he ignores their advice, it matters little.
I want to support President Trump and, compared to his opponents and their rage, I at least know what I am getting with him — a competent administration that tends to make the right call.
It’s just President Trump himself who is off. It is like watching a slow-motion train wreck over four years. You see the locomotive on the tracks, but the cars behind it have started tipping and there are toxic waste cars at the back. Slowly, everything begins to tilt, and we wait to see if everything tips or just tilts. It is a stressful four years waiting to see what goes off the rails and will anything still be on the track by 2020 to try for four more years.
President Trump and Vice President Pence have both, in the past, criticized President Obama’s world apology tour. It was rather remarkable yesterday to see President Trump, abroad and next to a ruthless dictator, criticize American institutions and disagree with his own intelligence community on Russian meddling.
In fact, there is no dispute about that meddling. President Trump’s Administration, the Administration I think highly of, agrees and is indicting Russian operatives for that meddling. It is just President Trump who disagrees.
And I’m honestly not sure he really disagrees. His reaction seems more defensive than disagreeable. There is no evidence the Russians wanted to get Donald Trump elected. There is ample evidence the Russians wanted to sow discord into the American political process and disrupt it. Because he won against the supposed chosen one, the idea that the Russians stole the election has become part of the Democrats’ mythology.
Yesterday, Vladimir Putin said he wanted President Trump elected. The left seized on that as truth. But then he said the Russians did not interfere in our electoral processes. The former is just as deliberate as the meddling. Putin wants everyone now to attack President Trump and amp up the claims of a stolen election because that too sows discord into our democratic processes.
The truth is that the Russians wanted us turned against each other and looking inward. The media carrying water for the Democrats that Russia stole the election has only boxed the President into a position where he feels he must deny it to defend his victory.
It is unfortunate all around.
I want to support this President. He has done a lot of good — more than I ever expected. But then he has performances like yesterday in Helsinki, and I think perhaps I will be exiled to the sidelines for a long time — a spectator of the processes trying to explain it to others.
That the criticism of the President has been strongly bipartisan and came even from within the White House should signal to the President that he needs to rethink whether Vladimir Putin is playing him because yesterday the President sounded like a fiddle.