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The Trump Presidency: Over Before It Begins?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Worse than a politician who never delivers on his promises is one who turns his back on them right after his election. We hope that isn’t you, Mr. President-Elect.


Say what you mean. Mean what you say. We’ve heard that one before and so have Donald Trump and Barack Obama, but these two men are polar opposites in how they apply the rule. In 2012, House Speaker John Boehner crafted a complex deal with Obama to rewrite the tax code, roll back the cost of entitlements, and slash deficits. According to the Boehner version of the encounter, the two shook hands and parted company happy in the deal, but when Boehner reached his Capitol Hill office, the president called him and reneged, insisting on higher taxes as his price. Presumably, West Wing staffers had pressured Obama to up the ante. The deal was off.

An excellent reason to believe the Boehner version is what happened the day after Trump’s election. Obama’s gracious few words were followed by numerous second thoughts: public condescension toward his successor as well as divisive reminders he didn’t win the popular vote (see “BHOXIT?” in this space 11/22/16). See the pattern? It would be hard to make a deal with a guy like him, wouldn’t it?

While Obama survived a long, drawn out abandonment of some promises—remember the immigration bill he was going to pass?—Trump will have no such luck if, before he takes the oath, he reneges on pledges dear to his electorate. It’s about draining that swamp:


Hillary Clinton: Let’s make an educated guess that most people are looking for some sort of closure relative to the Clintons and their decades of slogging the swamp. So a pardon or a wink just won’t do. It’s not about being vindictive. It’s about justice.

Some might argue that whether to pursue her for the email server and its related misconduct is an open, perhaps political decision. Whether to pursue the pay-to-play stuff with Clinton Global Initiative is another matter. Why? You, Mr. Trump, and many legal experts have described CGI’s pay-to-play model as a RICO enterprise, that selling access to the nation’s key foreign policy maker was a most odious and transparently criminal activity. Letting it continue without repercussion would be a crime in itself. 

Here's the bigger problem for you, sir: That you have decided not to “hurt” the Clintons because they are “good people” is big of you, but it’s not your decision. Just as it made millions of Americans mad as hell that Obama and Loretta Lynch put their thumbs on the scale to affect the election in her favor, just as many millions or more will be mad as hell that you have arrogated to yourself the decision to put your elbow firmly on the scales of justice, once again in her favor. In our constitutional system, we’d rather the people make the decision through our reps in an honest Department of Justice.  


Immigration: Look, Mr. Trump, only the hardest of hardliners expect you to deport 12 million people because to do that, we’d have to spend a trillion dollars over umpteen years to make it happen when we could use the same funds to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Deporting those guilty of violent crimes, on the other hand, is a must (and we should leave good people to parse exactly what crimes we mean), but not before our borders are secured, north and south. And by the way, nobody cares what the wall looks like, as long as it works to protect us from job and jihadi threats.

Most citizens of sanctuary cities will support deportation of criminals, and de-funded mayors will oppose you at their electoral peril. As for the rest of the illegals, there must be process and penalty if they wish to stay. Supporting illegals and paying our own people—via welfare—not to take jobs so illegals can work them more cheaply makes no sense, and it has to end. Legal labor costs more but real taxpayers make more sense for all of us. Only when that is accomplished can our own people at the bottom of the economic ladder have any hope of climbing up.

So, Mr. Trump, millions of us, including many of my friends and relatives, were thankful for your election this season of gratitude, but if we irredeemable deplorables find that you’re a tough talker on the campaign trail, but a bit wussy later, you and the Republican majorities will be history. And if you make the mistake of back-walking key promises before December 19, members of the Electoral College may feel no obligation to keep their pledges if you announce you’re not going to keep yours. 


Please remember, sir, what you said about draining the swamp. Hillary Clinton is a Queen of the Quagmire, and businesses profiteering from cheap illegal labor smell just as bad. Those two issues are tied to something else: Peggy Noonan made a great point in her WSJ piece yesterday when she talked about our need for you to focus 100 percent of your energies on the nation’s business and not your business. What she didn’t say was this: if you do otherwise, a pay-to-play case will be made against you, and your enemies will not be as generous to you as you’re now being to Hillary. Then, Mr. Trump, you’ll just be part of the swamp some Democrat will promise to drain four years from now. 

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