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Transition to Trump: The president-elect’s break with precedent infuriates the media

Now that it’s become clear the media is having close to zero influence on the direction or pace of the transition to Donald Trump’s administration, they’re trying a different tack to discredit him, callously claiming a schism exists between the president-elect’s New York and Washington teams.

Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia of Politico report, “While Donald Trump dines on frog legs with Mitt Romney and meets with a parade of lawmakers and governors in his gold-plated Midtown skyscraper, most of Donald Trumphis transition staff are hunkered down in Washington, D.C., writing detailed governing plans for his first 100 days.

“But so far, Trump and his inner circle have largely ignored those plans as they focus on top appointments and lean on the advice of politicians, CEOs and donors, rather than on their transition staff, say sources close to the transition.

“The president-elect, meanwhile, has been more likely to set policy on Twitter than through consultation with his D.C. advisers.”

The poor, neglected DC transition team… Don’t you just feel bad for them having to forego the frog legs being served up north in posh New York restaurants? Instead, they have to work.

In making a big deal out of this, the media is basically admitting they don’t have anything substantive to write about, so they might as well try painting a picture of the Trump transition in turmoil and division. In the process, the Politico writers all-but accuse a clueless Trump of being apathetic and negligent to the “governing” part of his new responsibilities.

The media as a whole has tried to start controversy recently over Trump’s tweets on Saturday Night Live and other frivolous topics, as if the president elect’s 140-character social media thought blurbs would distract him from the real business at hand in making America great again.

Now the media talkers are suggesting Trump and his closest advisors are so focused on personnel that they’re neglecting to work on plans to dismantle the Obama government on day one of the new administration. Naturally the Politico article contains testimony from people who supposedly know a lot about “tradition” in presidential transitions and they’re upset that Trump himself doesn’t care a lick about what was done x number of years ago.

More than anything, the complainers seem to be upset that Trump enjoys being different from past president-elects. The media is even accusing Trump of focusing more on “personality” than policy, a claim they’ve been advancing ever since Trump announced he was running for president.

Trump himself has done a healthy number of interviews and a couple “thank you” tour events where he’s devoted almost an hour to talking about policy – and personnel – each time. Where’s the coverage?

These so-called “experts” are decrying the fact it takes a long time to get the government to do anything. While I agree that’s most certainly true, here’s guessing Donald J. Trump will find a way to get certain things done quickly, just as the pace of his nominating members of his cabinet is well ahead of his predecessors.

Once the people are in place, there’s time to get down to the nitty gritty details. You’ve got to know your horse before you ride it, right?

One thing seems clear: Trump and Pence are a team. “People close to Trump say they expect him to rely heavily on Pence and other policy staffers once he enters the White House, freeing up Trump to stake out a broader strategic and political vision,” the Politico reporters wrote.

Conservatives are comforted knowing Pence is involved with implementing the agenda. He and Trump make for a great team.

On the other side of the coin, there are those who argue Trump is being too aggressive in talking about policy before he takes office and in choosing personnel.

Rebecca Berg of Real Clear Politics reports, “With little more than a month to go before he takes the oath of office, Donald Trump has begun to wade into the presidency, shaping American policy and speaking publicly about it — a break with tradition forged by previous presidents-elect.

“Although protocol or precedent has rarely impressed Trump, his aggressive transition could tinge early impressions of his administration, while making for an uncomfortable dynamic with President Obama in the meantime.”

Berg emphasized that Trump’s sporadic recent forays into the foreign policy realm are very unusual before Inauguration Day, since they potentially infringe on the purview of the sitting president.

If it wasn’t clear during the campaign it should be obvious by now that Trump and his team intend to forge their own new direction in the American government. For far too long Washington has been dominated by a relatively small collection of elites who sell themselves on their ability to “understand the way the government works” and how to get the things they want.

Donald Trump the outsider wants real change with new personnel and new ideas. Perhaps it won’t be as smooth a transition to his administration as has been true in the past, but there’s no doubt that the federal government will look different by the end of January.

And I believe the American people will like what they see, too.

Trump’s favorability rating is surging and so is the Electoral College’s

Despite the media’s overall somber mood and mostly unwarranted criticism of the Trump transition, there are already signs the American People are taking to the president-elect’s new style.

Gabby Morrongiello of the Washington Examiner reports, “President-elect Trump's favorability rating has increased significantly since his victory last month, and most voters now believe the incoming Republican president will deliver on his promises to reform healthcare and other issues, a new poll shows.

“Forty-five percent of voters in the latest George Washington University battleground poll said they have a positive opinion of the president-elect, marking a 9-point increase from mid-October. The percentage of voters who continue to view Trump negatively has declined 12 percentage points – 61 to 49 percent – in the same period.”

That’s right. Trump’s favorable/unfavorable numbers have almost reached the even mark. Gone are the days of 70 percent unfavorable ratings for the controversial former reality TV star. Meanwhile, the same survey revealed Hillary Clinton’s favorable numbers have declined and she’s seen negatively by 55 percent.

Half of the poll’s respondents said recent reporting on Trump has made them feel better about him. That means his transition public relations strategy is working. By large majorities Americans also believe Trump will bring real change to the government, which just goes to show that even if people remain on the fence about Trump personally, they still think he’ll be an effective president.

The public’s good feelings also now extend to the Electoral College. The Constitution’s method for choosing our president has taken a beating in the media since Trump won handily a month ago, but again, the people seem to appreciate it.

Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports, “[F]or the first time in nearly five decades, the country is deadlocked on keeping the system, reversing years of support for making the popular vote winner the president.

“Gallup reported that support for the Electoral College jumped from 35 percent to 47 percent. And opposition declined from 62 percent to 49 percent.”

The modification is reflected in the four year period between 2012 and 2016. You’ll have to admit, that’s a big jump. According to the poll, most of the difference comes from Republicans changing their minds as to the validity of the system. After 2012 they didn’t like it. After 2016, they do like it…Hmm, I wonder why.

The cynical side of me wonders how it could be that the Electoral College’s popularity is rising when I’m confident most people still don’t really understand what it does or why it’s important to our constitutional system.

Forgive me, but judging by conversations with a lot of young people over the past year it seems clear the only thing they understand about the Electoral College is it’s a bunch of numbers on a TV screen that need to add up to 270 on election night in order for someone to become president every four years.

Civics and constitutional history aren’t emphasized in today’s schools. Much more of an understanding of the how’s and why’s of the Electoral College would help alleviate a lot of the “Hillary deserves to be president because more people voted for her” arguments.

The truth is, if we ditched the Electoral College, we’d almost instantly morph into more of a parliamentary system.

Peter J. Wallison writes in Real Clear Politics, “If we had a pure popular vote system, as many people who are disappointed with the 2016 outcome are now proposing, it would not be feasible—because of third party candidates—to ensure that any candidate would win a popular majority. Even in 2016, for example, although Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, she only received a plurality (48 percent)—not a majority; third party candidates took the rest.

“If we abandoned the Electoral College, and adopted a system in which a person could win the presidency with only a plurality of the popular votes we would be swamped with candidates. Every group with an ideological or major policy interest would field a candidate, hoping that their candidate would win a plurality and become the president.”

Not only that, but if most of us now think it’s nuts that a wacko like Jill Stein (along with Hillary Clinton) is calling for recounts in three states, can you imagine the recount pandemonium that would ensue in a close election nationwide?

Most of our recent elections have been somewhat close. With fraud as a potential issue in parts of the country, how would a result ever be determined? How could one person legitimately certify the validity of nearly 130 million American votes?

You can’t. You would need a massive new federal bureaucracy just to hold the election.

The Electoral College was the result of a great compromise hammered out by the Founding Fathers to satisfy the concerns of large and small states. If more people realized the brilliance of the institution, few would be calling for a presidential election by national popular vote today.

How important is “diversity” to Trump’s Supreme Court nominations?

I’m not quite sure if he purposely meant to do it that way, but Donald Trump has assembled quite a demographically diverse cabinet, so much so that the media hasn’t even complained about the “racial” make-up of it.

But will Trump go out of his way to diversify his Supreme Court nominations as well? He’s apparently looking at one way to do it.

Ariane de Vogue of CNN reports, "President-elect Donald Trump is making one thing clear about the Supreme Court: He wants to do more than just solidify the conservative bent on the bench.

“As he considers a list of nominees to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump is looking for a kind of diversity the current court lacks.

“The potential nominees all have sterling judicial conservative credentials. But the current list represents something else -- a nod to judges from ‘flyover’ states, an appreciation for non-Ivy League schools and even a dash of political experience. Many on Trump's list wore different hats before donning their judicial robes. And some have personal stories that could attract the President-elect.”

I’m guessing most conservatives wouldn’t give much credence to demographic “diversity” on the Court as being very important. For me, it wouldn’t matter at all if there were nine non-white women like Michelle Malkin on the Court as long as they were constitutional originalists and refrained from imposing their personal opinions on the rest of the population.

But I can actually see where a little “geographic diversity” and a mix of educational backgrounds could be helpful – but only in the sense that it would take away from the elites’ sense of ownership of the Supreme Court.

While it’s true that most of the Court’s decisions do not come down to a narrow 5-4 split, there are many, many cases involving the relative strengths of the three branches of government where liberals tend to vote in one bloc. This is where worldview and one’s impressions of the Constitution divide the Justices.

The originalists, led by Justices Scalia (until his death), Thomas and Alito believe Congress and the state legislatures deserve a great deal of deference in deciding local political issues such as same-sex marriage. The liberals (Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan) believe in expansive federal power and “implied” rights in the Constitution. Chief Justice Roberts votes with the originalists most of the time and Justice Anthony Kennedy is the so-called “swing” vote.

Should more geographically and educationally “diverse” people be nominated for the Court, it could counterbalance the influence of the eastern “intellectual” elite. But other than bringing a new perspective into the conference room for the Justices’ deliberations, I’m having a hard time seeing how it would make a difference on how cases are decided.

It all depends on their views of the Constitution and federalism and who holds the power to decide.

As the CNN article points out, “diversity” could have some bearing on how the Court is perceived by Americans. Having some non-Ivy leaguers in there would be a good thing. But what Trump needs most is jurists in the mold of the late Justice Scalia.

Then everyone will be happy.

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