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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Trump’s winning formula needs a few tweaks, not a New Year’s overhaul

Have you ever wondered, why is it people see New Year’s as the occasion for resolutions?

It could be argued the end of December is the best time of year to consider new beginnings. After all, many of us are still celebrating the birth of the savior, offering the ultimate fresh start for the humble of heart and those Donald Trump 2018seeking a renewal of spirit to make yet another attempt at living a cleaner and healthier life in the next 365 days.

Or maybe it’s simply due to the onset of bitter cold that keeps many of us inside with little to do but contemplate what we’d like to accomplish when the weather improves and it’s time to become active again.

Needless to say, New Year’s is also a terrific opportunity to glance back at all that’s happened in the previous twelve months, a look to the past that always provides perspective on the realities of the present.

For President Donald Trump it’s been a year chock full of policy successes wrapped around an inner core of turbulent controversy. Despite the indisputable progress, some still insist Trump’s record is a mixed bag. Ramesh Ponnuru wrote at National Review, “People who voted for Trump in November 2016 on the theory that he would deliver policies radically different from what other Republicans would do should be disappointed. Those who voted for him because he would usually line up with conservatives and sign Republican bills, on the other hand, have reason to be pleased with his policy record.

“They may not like everything about this presidency, the effects of which will not be limited to changes in public policy. Many of Trump’s conservative supporters share some of the concerns of the majority of Americans who oppose him. These conservatives wish the president had spoken more firmly and consistently to denounce the white supremacists in Charlottesville, or had kept his distance from Roy Moore, or had contained himself on Twitter. On policy matters, though, they are getting what they wanted from him.”

In other words, Ponnuru basically restates the standard political pundits’ explanations for why Trump has been able to accomplish a lot while still lagging behind his predecessors in popularity polls. In these days of the 24-hour news cycle and omnipresent social media everyone with an opinion expresses it in real time and often those who are critical of Trump hit the “send” button before really giving their kneejerk retorts enough time to clear their common sense inspectors.

The fact people like Ponnuru are still using Trump’s post-Charlottesville statements as an example of his “divisive” nature is astonishing. To refresh, after news reports broke Trump immediately condemned both sides for the violence that erupted on that hot summer day in central Virginia. Subsequent examination of the facts revealed the Democrat controlled Virginia leadership all-but fostered a confrontation between the brainless goose-stepping Nazi scum and violence-prone leftist Antifa goons.

(Note: Have you ever noticed how no conservatives or Republicans claim the Nazis but the leftist politicos won’t condemn their radical elements like Antifa?)

Trump’s enemies are unrelentingly driven to score political points despite the reality of what actually happened on that day. The police were ordered to pull back (why, no one will explain) which virtually guaranteed the two sides would come into contact with each other. Judging by the club and urine-bomb wielding Antifa crowd, they didn’t come to peacefully protest the white supremacists who were armed only with torches and slogans. Antifa came prepared for a brawl – and they got one.

Reporters and the reactionary culture had already predetermined one side alone was to blame – instinctively the media jumped on whatever Trump did to try and calm the post-riot tensions.

Only the media could turn the law-abusing black-hooded anarchist left into a band of cultural heroes. These delinquents are every bit as bad as the ones wearing swastikas and hating based on skin tone.

As for the president’s backing of Roy Moore in this month’s special election, it was only natural for a Republican chief executive to desire to keep a valuable senate seat under GOP control. Do people seriously expect otherwise? Should Trump have followed the lead of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and written a check to Democrat Doug Jones’s campaign and then posted it on social media for everyone to see?

In the real world it’s assumed Republicans will advocate for the election of more party members, especially when a president’s entire agenda could hinge on a single vote in the strictly partisan senate. Should Trump have instead conceded he was willing to forego tax reform or a border wall because the media, the Democrats and a few disgruntled members of his own party were saying Moore was a sexual predator?

Jones already indicated he’s for amnesty and against many of Trump’s top priorities. The gripe now/lament later folks will blame Trump if he’s unable to push Congress to pass his priorities.

That one senate vote could make a huge difference in Trump’s effectiveness. Will it? Time will tell.

At the same time, some of Trump’s critics are hoping he has finally “learned” how to play the Washington game. David M. Drucker wrote in the Washington Examiner, “Republicans in Congress are cautiously optimistic about what they might achieve in 2018 with President Trump after capping a tumultuous year of infighting by coming together to pass a historic tax overhaul.

“Republicans aren’t calling Trump’s unexpectedly constructive leadership during the tax debate a pivot — nor should they. The president resumed his provocative, problematic Twitter habit the moment he arrived in Florida for a holiday vacation at Mar-a-Lago.

“But after months of enduring Trump’s scorn and ridicule, self-defeating attacks that helped sink the repeal Obamacare, Republicans are hopeful that the president’s team-oriented approach to tax reform signals that he is finally learning how to legislate.”

Learning how to legislate?

Anyone with a high school-level understanding of civics realizes a president doesn’t “legislate” at all. To those still confused, the legislative process goes a little like this: states hold elections where citizens select representatives and senators to go to Washington to speak for them in Congress. Those elected lawmakers propose bills, vote on and pass them, and then send the agreed upon language to the president for his signature. The bill then becomes law.

Trump is therefore the final step in the process. Sure, he can employ the bully pulpit to help move things along on Capitol Hill but it’s little more than naked politics to assume a president can change or improve the performance of lawmakers by giving them the carrot or the stick. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans find a receptive audience whenever complaining to the media about Trump’s supposed inability to help “pass” legislation. This isn’t much apart from many of those same people griping about Trump during last year’s GOP primaries claiming they couldn’t support a candidate who did x, y or z decades ago.

What’s any of this got to do with a human being acting as president? Did Trump’s calling Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” in 1996 prevent him from signing the tax bill into law last week?

This past summer Mitch McConnell accused Trump of harboring “unrealistic expectations” by demanding Congress pass an Obamacare repeal and replace bill in a timely manner. Vice President Mike Pence made numerous visits to Capitol Hill over the course of months to meet with individual lawmakers regarding their concerns. In the end it was a token few senators who killed the process (namely John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski) -- not Trump.

It’s easy and convenient to blame Trump’s personality or his tweets for Congress’s failures but it isn’t the president who’s “legislating.” That’s a media fiction disproved over and over again. Obama was constantly given credit for his skill in influencing Democrats when they held all the power during his first two years in office, but what did Obama accomplish by himself? Not much.

There is quite a lot a president can do on his own -- but not pass laws. Trump fulfilled one of those functions over Christmas.

Benny Johnson reported in the Daily Caller, “Donald Trump is spending Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, or as he calls it, ‘The Winter White House.’

“Being in sunny Florida did not stop Trump from reaching out to hundreds of members of the armed service around the globe, some in active war zones. Trump spoke via video teleconference to rooms packed full of service members stationed in Qatar, Kuwait, Guantanamo Bay and the USS Sampson in 5th Fleet OPS Underway, according to the pool report.

“Trump spoke to five deployed units, one from each branch.”

Trump seems to derive a lot of personal enjoyment out of doing things a president should do; it’s what a leaders does, set a good example and work to improve morale.

For as much as Trump is criticized for being an unserious president he sure does take the “real” job of being president seriously. Trump could follow in the example of his predecessor and pack his family off for a taxpayer-funded vacation in Hawaii but instead he spends the holidays working, including performing the most important duties of all – speaking to those serving the country who couldn’t be with their loved ones at Christmas.

Obama approached the position as president in a much different fashion. As someone who’d never held a “real” job his entire life Obama treated the office like it was a grand road trip planned out to stroke his own ego and populated with people bowing to him and serving his every want. He saw himself as American royalty and played the part.

Trump has already lived that kind of existence and arguably took a step down in quality of life by running for public office. Being in the White House is therefore an opportunity to serve in a capacity he couldn’t do before and he’s taking full advantage by profusely thanking all the people who he sees as already having made his life so wonderful. To Trump, it’s not all about him.

One can only hope Trump makes a few New Year’s resolutions, most notably a resolve to improve his approval ratings. But some things he’s doing don’t need to be changed; as the first president in decades who seeks to keep his campaign promises, Trump is already ahead of the game.

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