Trump and the End of the Beginning
Here in New England, there comes a moment, generally in March, when you can tell that Winter has turned the corner. The nights are still frigid. The ground is still strewn with filthy snow, cold but angry mounds, pitted black with icy gravel. And there might be more snow on the way. But there is something in the slant of the afternoon sunlight, something in the scent and texture of the air, that tells you that Spring is nigh.
I have a kindred feeling about the progress of the anti-Trump hysteria that has been plaguing the country since the early hours of November 9, 2016. The hysteria, I admit, has gone on far longer, and has been far more virulent, than I anticipated. I thought the insanity would dissipate quickly after January 20, when Donald Trump was inaugurated. Instead, it has accelerated, abetted by a scurrilous and irresponsible media and grandstanding Democratic politicians encouraged by their deep-state enablers.
The hysteria reached a crescendo over the last week. There was Kathy Griffin and her ghoulish ISIS-by-proxy photo shoot depicting her holding a blood-soaked likeness of Donald Trump’s severed head. There is the ongoing production in New York of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, replete with a Donald Trump lookalike in the title role and lots and lots of stage blood spilled when we come to the Ides of March. There was James Comey’s truly bizarre testimony before Congress last week. Then there was the disgusting treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by his former colleagues in the Senate: the names of Martin Heinrich and Mark Warner will occupy a place of special obloquy in the annals of disgraceful and nakedly partisan vilification. These anti-Trump players, each in his own way, helped to create the toxic environment into which James Hodgkinson, an anti-GOP zealot and Bernie Sanders supporter, strode Wednesday morning when he showed up at a congressional baseball practice session in Alexandria, Virginia. “Democrats or Republicans?” he was overheard to ask. Told that the field was occupied by Republicans, he took out a high-powered rifle and began shooting, seriously injuring several, including Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, before being felled himself by the Capitol Police.
What’s the take-away of all this? That we’re on the verge of a Civil War? There are some who say so. Certainly, as I have noted elsewhere, what all those who style themselves part of the “resistance” to Donald Trump are actually resisting is the result of a free and open democratic election. Trump met the qualifications to run for president of the United States: he was old enough and was a native-born American. And then he won the race by racking up more electoral votes than his opponent, despite being outspent nearly two to one.
I fully expect there will be additional arctic blasts from the media-engineered campaign against Trump. Doubtless many of the blasts will come from James Comey’s very good personal friend (“brothers in arms”) Robert Mueller, recently appointed special counsel to investigate allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. It’s conceivable that Mueller will be forced to recuse himself, but in the meantime, he is busy packing his investigative staff with Obama and Clinton loyalists.
As has been pointed out by many observers, the charge against Trump has subtly modulated away from “collusion with the Russians.” Unfortunately for The Narrative, there was no collusion with the Russians, at least not with Trump or his surrogates (perhaps Mr. Mueller will develop a healthy curiosity about the connection between the Clinton Foundation and Russian’s acquisition of 20 % of our uranium assets. Perhaps). The new tort is “obstruction of justice,” but—again, unfortunately for The Narrative—there is no evidence of obstruction. So I expect that the volume on the radio, though the station is playing only static, will be turned way up. (Maybe I mean that because it is playing only static, the volume will be turned up.)
Where does that leave us? There is a small pen of chihuahuas yapping wildly that Trump should be impeached because, because, because—the doggies will get back to us later with a reason. (The real reason is simply that they don’t like Mr. Trump.) Were that to happen, it would precipitate the gravest crisis since South seceded.
But I don’t expect it to happen. Why? Because Trump is succeeding like gangbusters nearly everywhere: judicial appointments are one thing all his supporters point to, but there is also his roll-back of the regulatory burden, his plan to cut taxes and to ditch and replace Obamacare (it’s happening), his enforcement of the immigration laws, his revitalization of the military, and on and on. The man has had a startling string of successes, though the media won’t tell you that.
He’s also had some failures and made some missteps—of whom can that not be said?— but taken all in all, the first four months of his presidency must be counted a remarkable success. Moreover, as Conrad Black argues in The National Interest, Trump is actually winning the war on Washington. His greatest problem, Black points out, is not “spurious charges or media hostility . . . but the cowardice of congressional Republicans.”
This is true, though when it comes to craven cowardice we shouldn't leave out poltroons like James Comey, who couldn’t leak his own memorandum to the press without drawing in a close friend to do the dirty work.
Success has a way of blotting out or at least marginalizing criticism. As Trump forges ahead, quietly racking up victory after victory, the yapping chihuahuas are going to appear more and more absurd to the public. Those pups are yapping, but as the old Arab mot puts it, the caravan is nevertheless traveling on. Forecast: 10% chance of crisis, 90% chance of sun. A major criticism of Trump concerned temperament: he was supposed to be too thin-skinned, too erratic, too apt to go off half-cocked to be trusted with the presidency. But here he was addressing the nation in Wednesday’s shooting crisis: calm, grave, determined, articulate—all of things one wants a president, at a time like this, to be.
This may not be quite the end of Trump’s travails. But as Churchill said after the Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942, though “this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”