Why is it that politicians just can’t seem to handle prosperity?
I guess another way to ask that would be, why can’t politicians keep from screwing up a good thing or squandering the good will of voters?
I’ve seen it so many times.
And I’m seeing it happen now.
Donald Trump won the election. Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
It would seem that they might be able to make good on some promises made during the campaign.
But if the early days of this administration are a foreshadowing of what’s to come, Republicans are in serious trouble.
This worries me because I am a small government kind of person. I believe the government has grown too large and too intrusive, and I would like to see it reigned in.
Ostensibly, Republicans should be the best hope for that type of legislative agenda. Certainly, Democrats have never seen an entitlement program they couldn’t embrace.
Problem is, the last Republican administration – that of President George W. Bush – gave me none of that. Quite the contrary.
W’s “compassionate conservatism” gave us giant new government programs like Homeland Security, the prescription drug benefit and No Child Left Behind. On the intrusive side of things there were warrantless wiretaps and torture.
Along with those programs came the beginning of massive debt.
Add to that an unpopular war in Iraq and the political pendulum swung to the left.
Enter President Barack Obama who was all too happy to spend even more.
I remember W’s last budget had a deficit of more than $460 billion. I wrote a column about how insane that was.
How naive of me.
Obama tripled that and ran deficits over $1 trillion a year for four consecutive years. The budget deficit in his last year in office was $552 billion.
What’s a conservative to do?
Hope for the best, I guess.
In November, I was confident that Hillary would win, so I had resolved myself to another four or eight years of increased government regulation and slow to stagnant economic growth.
But no. Trump and the Republicans gained control of all the levers of power in Washington.
Maybe, just maybe, they could pull it together and offer something a small government guy like me could get behind.
I know it’s early. I get that. But what I’m seeing so far is troubling. It looks like amateur hour at the White House.
It’s one thing after another. The list of screw-ups among Trump and his staff is mind numbing.
Just this week we find out that top Trump campaign aides were in contact with senior Russian officials during the campaign.
Trump’s national security adviser, Mike Flynn, had to resign because before Trump took office he was chatting it up with the Russian ambassador about Obama-era sanctions. He likely lied to the FBI?about it. He might wind up in prison on a perjury bust.
Then there was adviser Kellyanne Conway standing in the White House urging people to buy Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. This may well be a violation of federal ethics laws.
Trump himself disparaged Nordstrom in a Tweet over the same issue.
Trump suggested a certain moral equivalence between past U.S. policy and that of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. “You think our country’s so innocent?” he asked Fox’s Bill O’Reilly.
And even if you agreed with Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven majority muslim countries, its haphazard rollout had to bother you.
The aftermath wasn’t any better. The green card debacle – where people holding valid green cards were caught up in the ban – was fixed with an “authoritative guidance memorandum” from Trump’s White House attorney.
Then, at the district court, pretty much the only argument the White House made was that the executive order was unreviewable by the court – which is absurd.
We also found out that Trump apparently feels like he can conduct international crisis management over a nice meal.
When Trump got the word about North Korea’s missile launch, he was at Mar-A-Largo having dinner with the prime minister of Japan.
From CNN:
Even as a flurry of advisers and translators descended upon the table carrying papers and phones for their bosses to consult, dinner itself proceeded apace. Waiters cleared the wedge salads and brought along the main course as Trump and (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe continued consulting with aides.
Other published reports suggested guests were getting selfies with the guy who carries the nuclear football – the briefcase containing the nuclear launch codes that is never far from the president.
Sensitive documents? Members of the public? Camera phones?
What next? Install a private email server?
Is it just me or should this kind of sensitive, classified discussion be held somewhere other than a swanky private club filled with members of the public?
During the first month of this administration, there have been more leaks from Trump’s executive agencies and the White House itself than the Oroville Dam.
So we’ve got an inexperienced president who also seems ill-informed by advisers whose agendas seem to be a bit selfish. Beyond that, Trump’s policy apparatus, from what I see so far, is broken.
How can this end well?
Voters were generous to Republicans last November. If Republicans don’t rein in Trump’s Twitter rants and his administration’s penchant for serious blunders, voters won’t be nearly as generous in 2018.