Normally I don’t traffic in the typical media thumb-sucking about what’s immediately ahead for the President, or other unctuous, subjunctive commands about what the President “must do” if he is going to advance. But I make an exception now because I have a sense that Trump might make some big moves this week following on his highly successful and consequential first foreign trip.
How do I know it was a successful and consequential trip? Because the media was complaining about Melania’s wardrobe and Trump’s supposedly boorish behavior of pushing himself past the prime minister of Montenegro during a group photo setup. I think that was just Trump making clear that the U.S. is done leading from behind. How else do I know it was a successful trip? Because Angela Merkel has her nose bent out of joint. Frau Merkel was quoted this weekend saying, “We can’t rely on the U.S. anymore. I have experienced this in the last days. We Europeans should take destiny in our own hands.”
Merkel and other Europeans reportedly gave Trump the razzle-dazzle about staying in the Paris Climate Accord, which Trump is now rumored to be ready to dump this week. I hope so, though I don’t think it may matter very much. The Paris Accord is so weak that even chief climatista James Hansen calls it a “fraud,” and the fact that ExxonMobil and other major fossil fuel companies support remaining in the Paris Accord is additional indication that Trump might cause more difficulties for the climate racket it he stays in. The great Roger Pielke Jr writes:
“As a symbol, here is how the politics works: Trump pulls out of Paris, Trump wins. Trump stays in, Trump wins. Fun game, huh?”
Roger thinks the smart play for the euroclimatistas would be to kick the U.S. out. I doubt they have that much moxie, and in any case Trump would love it. I can just imagine his tweetstorm now.
Meanwhile, is Trump going to shake up his staff? One analogy to the early months of Trump’s presidency is the first few months of Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1993, which also did not go well for him in terms of public approval and forward progress on his legislative agenda. It’s not exactly the same: no one in the media today is emulating Time magazine’s “The Incredible Shrinking President” cover of June 1993 that Clinton’s fecklessness provoked. The liberal-media complex fear today is just the opposite—that Trump is a fascist dictator.
It was at about this point in 1993 that Clinton shook up his staff, bringing David Gergen on board as communications director (fortunately there is no risk that Trump will inflict that special misery on us), and musing about demoting Dee Dee Myers, one of his early press spokespeople. It didn’t really help all that much. Hillary’s ridiculous and authoritarian health care plan couldn’t even get a vote in a Congress with comfortable Democratic majorities in both houses, and the crime bill that did pass in the fall of 1994, with its trendy “assault” weapons ban and midnight basketball program, backfired on Democrats.
I suppose the cautionary tale here is that today’s GOP Congress needs to pass some things, or else they will suffer (deservedly) the same fate as the Democrats did in 1994. They really need to get their act together—fast—on the replacement for Obamacare and tax reform. They GOP Congress doesn’t need specific direction from Trump to do these things. In fact, it would be a great move back to political health if Congress stepped up and showed that it can lead the nation just as well as a President, which is what the Founders intended. But that’s a subject for a longer, separate post.
My conclusion is that Trump’s foreign trip and events this week will mark a turning point for his first term.