The Wall Street Journal as been a bit schizophrenic in its messaging regarding the Trump administration over the past couple of weeks and to be fair, that’s a function of two things: 1) it turns out the Journal has more than one employee writing columns so you know, “different strokes for different folks,” and 2) the administration they’re writing about has an observable penchant for being crazy.
Nevertheless, the Journal needs to be careful about egregiously contradicting itself – even given the reality that some pieces are opinion pieces and some are just plain old news.
That is, you can’t really accuse Democrats of “spreading innuendo” about Devin Nunes’ motives and then three hours later, in the course of breaking the news that Mike Flynn is seeking immunity in exchange for his testimony on the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, suggest that the former national security advisor “may be in legal jeopardy.”
Seen through the lens of a Journal that’s critical of the way Nunes is being treated by the media, that assertion could easily be characterized as the same kind of “innuendo spreading” that WSJ decried just hours earlier.
Well, in a new article dated Saturday, WSJ’s Peggy Noonan delivers the cold, hard truth: Donald Trump’s general philosophy and broad strokes agenda may indeed be just what the nation needs, but unfortunately, the man is “crazy.” That’s her word, not mine.
Near the end of the campaign I wrote a column called “Imagine a Sane Donald Trump,” lamenting that I believed he was crazy, and too bad. Too bad because his broad policy assertions, or impulses, suggested he understood that 2008 and the years just after (the crash and the weak recovery) had changed everything in America, and that the country was going to choose, in coming decades, one of two paths—a moderate populism or socialism—and that the former was vastly to be preferred, for reasons of the nation’s health. A gifted politician could make his party the leader toward that path, which includes being supportive and encouraging of business but willing to harness government to alleviate the distress of the abandoned working class and the anxious middle class; strong on defense but neither aggressive nor dreamy in world affairs; realistic and nonradical on social issues while unmistakably committed to protecting the freedoms of the greatest cohering force in America, its churches; and aware that our nation’s immigration reality was a scandal created by both parties, and must be redressed.
You could discern, listening to his interviews and speeches, that this was more or less where Donald Trump stood. If a politician governed along those lines, he could help bring forward a politics more pertinent to the times, end brain-dead fixations, force both parties to question their ways of operating, and possibly push our national politics in a more productive direction. All this in my view would be good.
Looking at the administration 70 days in, things do not, in these areas, look promising. There’s too much gravitational pull to the president’s accumulated mistakes.
His stupid tweets have now resulted in the Russia probe. That will help opioid addicts in Ohio. This Thursday he may have launched a Republican civil war: The Freedom Caucus had better “get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & the Dems, in 2018!” That will help promote harmony. His staff has failed to absorb the obvious fact that Mr. Trump was so outsized, colorful, and freakish a character that their primary job, and an easy one it was, was to be the opposite—sober, low-key, reassuring. Instead they seemed to compete with him for outlandishness.
Whatever your feelings and views, whatever was said behind closed doors, in the photo-op the president of the United States must shake the German chancellor’s hand. Not only because you are a gentleman, not only because it is your job to represent America with grace, but because a baseline requirement of your office is to show public respect for a great nation with which we have a history, part of that history constituting a jewel in the crown of 20th-century world diplomacy.
It amazes me that in his dealings with the health-care bill Mr. Trump revealed that he has no deep knowledge of who his base is, who his people are. I’ve never seen that in politics.
Seventy days is only 70 days. Mr. Trump’s supporters will give him time. During the campaign I spoke often to a friend in north Georgia, a Trump supporter who was a Democrat and voted for Barack Obama. She is unshaken. Mr. Trump is “making the kind of mistakes a new president makes,” she says now. “He’s having growing pains. Because he’s not a politician.”
He’s not. But he is the holder of the highest political office in the land, which requires some political discipline.
So just who is this high-minded Peggy Noonan who thinks she can just say whatever she wants about our President, you ask?
Well, she’s written nine books (which is eight more than Donald Trump has ever read) and has been a fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, and has taught in the history department at Yale University.
“See, there you go,” someone will say. “She’s just another angry ivory tower dweller who has no business opining on the President who everyone with any sense knows is the second-coming of Ronald Reagan.”
Oh, I forgot to mention something else about Peggy. She was a special assistant and speechwriter for Ronald Reagan.
Heard from the Right-wing peanut gallery: crickets.