He now knows the ropes. And he’ll fight back as much as he needs to.
The election was Tuesday. President Trump helped secure a stronger Republican Senate, with definite pick-ups in Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota; and an almost-certain fourth gain in Florida (unless the cheaters steal it, as they stole Norm Coleman’s Minnesota seat, Ted Stevens’s Alaska seat, Richard Nixon’s 1960 election, and others). Nevada was lost to immigration. Thus, the Republicans now have between 52 and 54 Senators. Arizona is tight, with Martha McSally clutching onto a razor-thin chance, thanks somewhat to some wonderfully glorious Green Party activist suitably surnamed Green. Karma is satisfied because Kyrsten Sinema, the McSally opponent who approved Americans fighting for the Taliban and who called her state “crazy” and (apparently never having watched “Breaking Bad”) described Arizona as the nation’s “meth lab,” began her political career as a candidate for the same Green Party. Long live kale, kelp, and seaweed health drinks with wheat germ and tree bark, gulped down without plastic straws Yummy!
Then came Wednesday. While others debated the election results, President Trump got to work. Jeff Sessions — you’re fired. Jim Acosta — you’re outta here. And then Thursday — executive order: no more amnesty applications at the border. From now on, you want amnesty, you apply properly at a legally established port of entry. Stop the madness.
This is the difference of a hotel-and-casino builder with a TV show entering a new career at the White House in 2016, and a seasoned President of the United States now ensconced with his team in 2018. Men at Work.
The new President Trump of 2016 promised a great deal and clearly intended, one way or another, to keep his pledges, come what may. But he also had to learn the ropes of government, ropes that bind all but the mighty. He cautiously picked a team that he felt would alleviate concerns that he was entering the White House without a clue. So he had seasoned politico Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, Sean Spicer as his press spokesman, and Rex Tillerson as his Secretary of State. These all were fine choices, but a Romney or McCain might have chosen similarly. The choices were smart, competent people. But these were not Trump people.
The President started off by toeing cautiously. Regardless of how the Left Media describe him, and how exercised his midnight tweets were, he actually proceeded cautiously “by the book.” Along the way, he discerned people who could not deliver. A year was lost trying to repeal and replace Obamacare and fund The Wall. He worked within the system. He followed the rules and legislative niceties. In the end, John McCain singularly nixed the repeal of Obamacare, leaving the President embarrassed and stoked, and the Republicans rightly mocked for being unable to govern. This had been their rallying cry for nigh a decade — “Repeal and Replace” — and now they failed. That flop left them unable to shift into the critically necessary Phase Two, demonstrating that they now had an alternative approach to healthcare that would allow patients to keep their doctors, keep their plans, and not get bounced for pre-existing conditions.
Pre-existing conditions is a big thing. If Republicans did not get it until now, they should by now. It is one thing to tell a person who irresponsibly has failed to buy insurance that, once he learns he has a claim it then is too late to buy it. That is fair. A person who does not have life insurance should not be able to buy it after his doctor tells him he will die in 48 hours. A person without homeowners insurance should not be able to buy it when he sees five crooks in masks hauling his furniture out of his home. And someone who refuses to buy health insurance when healthy should be restricted when he suddenly learns from his doctor that, uh-oh, you better get some health coverage.
But there are lots of Americans who do act responsibly and then find themselves closed out by a pre-existing condition. It really is an issue. And even for those with super-great PPO health insurance, a person with a significant disease can find that the annual out-of-pocket health costs exceed $6,000 a year, even $10,000 a year, before the super-great PPO insurance covers the remaining bills at 100 percent. If a person is married, and both get seriously ill, the numbers can get higher — even for those who have excellent insurance. Republicans need to understand that. If the tax cuts were great, and if those $1,000 and $2,000 bonuses were great — and they were great, not crumbs — then Republicans in Congress need to grasp that a $6,000 or $8,000 annual healthcare out-of-pocket cost, over and beyond regular premiums, is not crumbs either. It can bankrupt a household.
So the GOP blew it. They wasted a year and never really repealed Obamacare. If they had not had Trump at the helm, they probably never would have ended the individual mandate either. And they failed to act on immigration.
Half this country, give or take, will not dance to the building of a Wall or on clamping down on illegal immigration. They want Illegals and a porous border. They want ICE terminated and an endless stream of Illegals to change the electoral map, as their California experiment has succeeded. But Congressional Republicans have needed to grasp for decades that the other half of the country insist on getting the border controlled and illegal immigration stopped. Inasmuch as the GOP spent the pre-Trump decades dancing to the tune of the Left Media, haplessly trying to win friends where there are no friends to be won, they failed to secure the border. As a result, California now is lost, perhaps for a generation, until Latinos figure out that the Democrats do not care about them, only their votes. The millionaires in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, in Beverly Hills and Malibu, want them for pool cleaning, gardening, and housecleaning, but they never will bring Latinos into their economic class. Bezos, Zuckerberg, Pelosi, Meryl Streep, Madonna, Chelsea Handler, Will Ferrell, even Obama and Oprah — none of them is Asian or Latino. Only a Republican conservative capitalist program offers all people the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. To build a small business free of excessive regulation. To keep more of the money one brings in. To rise as high as one’s talents and merit allow.
So the Republicans wasted the first year of the Trump Revolution. They failed on healthcare. They failed on immigration. And now they not only have lost California but contemplate a Nevada whose demographic has changed with the mass importation of immigrants from the south into the Las Vegas and related hotel-services industry. And next may be Arizona.
With a year lost domestically, the President initially also tip-toed on other promises and priorities. He did not initially pull out of the Iran Deal when the first withdrawal opportunities arose. He did not initially move America’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem when that first opportunity arose. He took some time, needed to learn the ropes, and he found himself the target of the most vicious media campaign of vilification, while the minority party shifted from the historic role of the “Loyal Opposition” to that of “The Resistance.” Beyond that, he got hit with a Mueller investigation, born of a hoax and a leak. Along the way, as the first Trump year progressed, Paul Ryan did not change into combat gear, but Donald Trump did evolve and grow. He became a right-wing conservative ideologue who decided: “That’s it. Time to take care of business.” He got tough on North Korea, tough on NATO penny-pinching, terminated the Iran Deal, moved the Israel embassy to Jerusalem, imposed tariffs to save the American steel and aluminum industries, extended tariff threats to Mexico and Canada that resulted in ending NAFTA and crafting a whole new America-Mexico-Canada agreement. He got $700 billion to rebuild the military in 2018 and $716 billion for 2019. He started building The Wall, offered a DACA deal and then withdrew it when the Democrats played games, and started changing White House personnel and his cabinet to fit his needs.
He brought in Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State, the kind of tough-nosed but super-intelligent guy that would have been his first choice if he had not initially tip-toed. He transitioned ultimately to Gen. John Kelly in the White House and let him send out the clowns like Omarosa. He switched out Sean Spicer. And he learned how to leverage Mitch McConnell for what that man does best: playing the rules of the Senate to get federal judges confirmed.
By the end of the second year, President Trump had hit his stride. He was hampered by a Republican Congress that included too many fearful politicians clinging for dear life, obstructing representatives like Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan who were ready to promote his agenda. He figured out which GOP players in the Senate he could rely on, and which had to go. With the elections, NeverTrumpers Bob Corker and Jeff Flake will be gone. Marsha Blackburn will replace Corker, and McSally may replace Flake. The President now has his Senate of 53 or 54, with Lisa Murkowski no longer positioned to bother anyone, not even if she drags in Mitt Romney and someone else with a peeve.
And he has gone right to work.
Jeff Sessions needs to run for the U.S. Senate seat that Doug Jones temporarily is keeping warm in Alabama. Sessions was great there, and he will be great there again. He was not a good fit for Attorney General in this time and place, although he remained ideologically true. Though unsuited for AG circa 2016, he never deviated from conservatism on substance or policy, only on getting the job done. In many areas, he did get the job done and was fabulous. But he blew it on Mueller. Likewise, he could not get documents produced to Congressional committees when subpoenaed. Rather, he focused with tunnel vision on his areas of primary importance — important areas like prosecuting Illegals, fighting Sanctuary Cities, and vigorously defending religious liberty — but his time and epoch was wrong. With a vicious Democrat Resistance and an equally vicious Left Media, this was a time for a tough street grappler, not a dignified Southern gentleman. A Chris Christie (if the Trump in-laws can accept that) or a Joe diGenova. A guy who not only punches back but who keeps punching even after the bell rings, and keeps ringing, even after the referee tries pulling the guy off.
And that is what the President now seems ready for. He emerged from the election, focusing on what he has — a stronger, more reliable Senate — and he immediately fired Sessions. When Jim Acosta started to jerk with the Presidency, he took away his hard pass to the White House. This is America. A free press does not mean that a media representative can hijack press conferences, be rude to the President, refuse to give up a microphone as a young intern tries delicately to wrest it from his pugnacious grip. Acosta is not emblematic of a free press but of an aspiring soap-opera actor auditioning for the wrong cable show.
This President now knows the ropes. He knows that the American People forget about Michael Cohen when someone says Omarosa. They forget Omarosa when someone says Stormy. They forget Stormy when someone says Spartacus. They forget Spartacus when someone says Christine Ford. They forget Christine when someone says Kavanaugh. They forget Kavanaugh when someone says Khashoggi. They forget Khashoggi when someone says Caravan. And they will forget the firing of Sessions and the stripping of Acosta’s credentials just as quickly as they all have forgotten that the White House once-upon-a-time stripped the credentials of Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan, who voted for a Communist for President.
Donald Trump now knows the ropes and the rules of the Swamp. As soon as Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, and Nancy Pelosi start playing dirty — and at least some of them will — the President now will have the team and the White House experience to hit back twice as hard. A Senate investigation of the Clinton Foundation. A Senate investigation of Hillary, the bathroom server, Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner and their shared computer. Subpoenas for every email, prosecution of every FBI and DOJ official who played fast and furious with the rules. Subpoena Maxine Waters’s tax returns. Subpoena those of her husband. Subpoena Obama’s college transcripts. Subpoena Richard Blumenthal’s military records. Subpoena the financial records of Dianne Feinstein and her husband, Richard Blum. Subpoena records in California regarding the intimate relationship between Kamala Harris and former California political boss Willie Brown, who elevated her as she moved from the bottom to the top. Subpoena records and investigate how Loretta Lynch ended up on the same tarmac at the same time as Bill Clinton. Bring back Lois Lerner and investigate the Obama IRS. Investigate Fast and Furious. Once the Democrats draw “first blood,” there is what to investigate and subpoena back.
This is the way it should be. Mr. Trump now knows the ropes. He has his team in place. The elections just ended, and he is not wasting a moment. It is like the pre-diabetic who stays away from sugar for three weeks before the next glucose blood test and A1C draw. Then, as soon as they tape the little gauze pad on the poked vein, the person gets into his car and drives straight to the donut shop for an apple fritter, a jelly yeast donut, a chocolate-glazed cake donut, and a pumpkin latte with extra sugar. The election blood-draw is over, and Trump now is at the donut shop. Sessions — out. Acosta — out. Illegals seeking asylum at the border — out. And if the Democrats get nasty, then subpoena, subpoena, subpoena.