To say that the last four years have been interesting is the greatest of understatements. President Trump has done things that no other president could or would do. Some of the things he did no other President would want to do. But whatever your opinion these have been interesting times. What I’d like to do here is just provide a survey of this administration’s high and low points. We will let history judge it for its greatness.
The thing this administration suffered from most is a lack of decorum. Now, I like the tweets, at least most of them. And “Covfefe” was the best. But why? Even from the beginning President Trump needed a way to get his message to the masses in a way that the cadre of the Democratic Party and their version of Pravda, the establishment media conglomerates, could not yet stop. He got the message out but not always in the most succinct fashion. (I volunteered, albeit informally, for the job of “tweeter” but didn’t hear back.)
President Trump’s relationships with certain persons and groups sure got a lot of press. Steve Bannon, Paula Cain-White, and others garnered criticism from all sides. Much of this criticism was undeserved as every administration has in it some objectionable element. Maybe it’s tougher than I think to find people with a broad appeal. Yet I would have like better.
Critics kept a tally of his “lies and misleading remarks.” That was pretty silly when you think about it. Some of it was his salesmanship. He knows how to move a crowd. We can all decry this salesmanship yet must also realize that his predecessor received little criticism for remarks about making the ocean levels drop.
There is the question of emoluments. I don’t believe he violated anything by his business operations. Even so it’s not hard to tip-toe right up to that line just to get a little extra. But he didn’t do that all the time. In fact he gamed the system far less than anyone in the past. (Imaging spending your whole life in public service and leaving office with a net worth of about $800M.) Not that that’s a good thing. Sort of a lesser of two evils thing.
He blew it with Russia. He came out of that Helsinki meeting with his tail between his legs. We don’t know why or what happened. But we do know that it was not his finest moment.
COVID. I don’t think his error was what the media tells us. We learned last Summer that a less-impacting herd immunity might be obtained by first protecting the elderly and compromised followed by opening society back up. I don’t know that President Trump understood the potential and Dr. Fauci, acting more as a statistician than a clinician, seemed to be always going by the numbers. I would have wished President Trump had listened to more voices around him. Dr. Paul, for instance.
Mexico didn’t pay for the wall.
President Trump’s pro-life position sits high on the list. He reversed discrimination against faith-based organizations, allowed states to defund Planned Parenthood of Title X funds, reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy (no international tax money for abortions through NGOs), required health insurance companies to disclose abortion coverage, established a new Conscience Protection office at HHS, permitted states to defund Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funds, Cut Planned Parenthood’s funding for abortions, and protected conscience rights for health-care workers.
Israel. Enough said. Positive treaties, stronger recognition, and creative relationships with surrounding nations.
Then there’s the economy. Yes, the economy was coming back under Obama. An economy that is at all free will come back. Government doesn’t build economies. Free people build economies. That said, when you get government out of the way you get faster growth. We are now energy independent, and that means the Middle East. We are producing more. We are exporting more.
North Korea. We were treated to months of fear-mongering about an impending (but never materializing) nuclear war, Kim backed down.
China. Trade has improved. Things are not what they need to be but President Trump made great progress here.
There’s the tax cuts that benefited everyone.
Then there’s the fuel prices that people miss. During both W and Obama the price (between elections) would fluctuate between $3.00 and $3.50. It’s nowhere near that you. You’ve gotten a $50 or so monthly income increase that was unaffected by the tax system or employer. (Don’t expect this situation to last very long.)
He over-stated the election issues. Oh, there were serious issues. But the strategy was wrong. Even if the strategy were better the fix was in. Biden in 2020 is like Chicago 1960.
President Trump survived the greatest witch hunt in American political history. The first part is about Russia and a supposed foreign influence. For, iirc, more than two years Adam Schiff was on MSNBC proclaiming that any day now we would see the evidence. Schiff reinforced the true believers until, it seems, even they tired of him. Mueller had nothing. But some still believe despite the evidence. It’s almost like they have a metaphysical claim on this question. (That means it’s their religion.)
The second part is the two impeachments. The second was little more than a show trial. And while the House of Representatives acts more like a grand jury that weighs evidence and sends a potential indictment to the Senate, the second impeachment presented zero evidence. The public was treated to the greatest trivialization of the judicial and legislative process in American history. The first impeachment related to his efforts regarding Ukraine. Trump was prosecuted for what Hunter Biden did. To use the term “injustice” is a great understatement, especially given that the Biden family has seen no prosecution.
President Trump is one of but two presidents who, because of his wealth, gave away his pay. The other was John F. Kennedy.
Probably his greatest success is exposing the nature of American society as a national-level hot box. As a nation, by and large, there is one worldview source for information and what disagrees is relegated to trivia, baseless conspiracy theories, or just stupidity. The tendency toward this has been identifiable through Rush Limbaugh’s “media montage” clips where he presents, often a dozen or more, media outlets regularly using the identical terms and rhetoric in sync. Whether you get your news from Twitter, Apple News, Google, or MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Reuters, or elsewhere you probably are reading the same story rewritten for a new audience. That cadre now includes Twitter and Facebook. If you think what you are reading or hearing from these sources has anything to do with the truth then you are kidding yourself.
His spokespersons did a fine job putting media arrogance in its place. Both Sarah Huckabee-Sanders and Kaleigh McEnany provided some excellent moments. My favorite was placing in the background the images of burning cities while the press remained in silent censorship mode.
He never said “fine people” about neo-Nazis.The transcript is here. It’s a discussion about dealing with the statues. It is not about the riots. But there are still people who believe it.
He did not ask for favors from Ukraine. “Us” does not mean “me.” Even CNN apologized for getting that one wrong. But there are still people who believe it. That would be Pelosi, Biden, and Kerry.
That’s it. Lots of success. A few failures. But hey, who doesn’t have a life of both.
What is the Christian to do now? First, let’s reject the theme of Christian nationalism. It is nothing more than a revival of the old reconstructionist thinking of 40 years ago. It’s a nostalgia for things that never were, a romanticizing of the past. One does not create a Christian nation by fiat, by some top-down method. Christianity is not a political theory. It is far richer than that.