Politics has often been likened to a sport of some sort, a rule-based contest whose contestants will vie for a prize to be awarded at the end of some athletic trial. The analogy is usually more false than true, especially considering the nebulosity of the “rules” and that the “prize” is power over others who might not have consented to be governed by the winner. But now and then a sports analogy will achieve definite resonance.
Now is such a time.
The Trump Administration, though not yet complete owing to the sluggishness of the confirmation processes for President Trump’s Cabinet secretaries, has definitely “hit the ground running.” It’s well that it should be so, for something else is running alongside it, determined to beat it to the prize. While Trump and his associates have a slight lead at the moment, there’s no guarantee that it will prevail. This race differs from the usual sort in not having a fixed finish line.
President Trump has issued a goodly number of executive orders, each one designed to overturn or mitigate the damage done by his predecessor’s administration. Indeed, one has followed upon another, such that the Democrats and their media handmaidens have hardly had time to recharge their capacitors between outrages. Yet they continue to bellow their best, shifting awkwardly but determinedly from topic to topic. Hearken to Byron York’s column of yesterday:
Democrats aren't just venting. Their actions, taken together, have a number of strategic intentions. The first is to distract, and do whatever damage it can, to the Trump administration as it tries to get on its feet. Second is to constrain the White House and create a sense among voters and potential Trump supporters that enacting the president's agenda will come at an enormous cost in peace and public safety. On Tuesday night, for example, news broke that Trump will not visit Harley Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee Thursday, as planned, because the company feared protests.
A third purpose is to keep the Trump administration weak; the longer the Justice Department has no attorney general, for example, the less able it will be to defend the many Trump initiatives that will come under legal challenge.
The specific tactics in play are well-worn tools of the Left. Each has been deployed before, to some effect. Each has a psychological structure designed to appeal to a targeted group: the hard-left “base,” the nominally “independent” private citizen, or the amoral power-monger sitting in Congress. But the aggregate effect, so far at least, is falling short of what the Democrats hope.
Their problem is that President Trump has refused to “play defense.” He merely continues to implement the agenda he promised the electorate during his campaign, pausing now and then to emit a “tweet” designed to irritate his opponents. In consequence, his lead is slowly increasing. It’s hard to beat a runner who believes in himself, is used to ruthless competition, and refuses to divert any of his time, thought, or energy to worrying about his opponents. This is all to the good.
Of course, there are no guarantees that Trump will “win” this race. The Democrats are as determined as they are frantic, and the absence of a fixed finish line makes all predictions problematic. Moreover, the midterm elections could surprise either side. But for the moment, prospects are bright.
I don’t know whether Trump’s decision to plunge ahead in this manner derives to any degree from the race I’ve described here. All I, or anyone not in the president’s inner circle, can say is that it’s working to his benefit and the benefit of his declared agenda. His approval rating is rising. Doubters in Congress, several of whom were openly negative about a President Trump before his inauguration, are slowly moving to his side. With the exception of the hard-left bastions along the coasts, Americans appear to like what they see.
Donald Trump has triumphed repeatedly over tough competitors and government obstructionists in the hardest-fought real-estate market in the country. He knows himself, what he means to accomplish, and what he can and can’t do. He’s selected lieutenants of proven ability who appear to share his goals wholeheartedly. And with every stride he sends his opponents deeper into frenzy.
I’ve seldom allowed myself much optimism about politics and governance in recent years. “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed,” and all that. And yes, I was dubious about the advisability of putting Trump, a man of historically mercurial temperament and variable political convictions, in the power seat. But it’s looking good. Glory be to God, it’s looking good!