One advantage of being in the commodities trading business is one very quickly learns the folly of stubbornly clinging to an opinion when the empirical evidence of price action shows that you’re wrong . . . at least for the time being. I couldn’t help but reflect on this notion when I read George Will’s scathing review in The Washington Post of the Trump presidency, now wrapping up its first year. He offers up Mr. Trump’s ill-conceived support for the awful candidacy of Roy Moore for the Alabama Senate seat — a seat that a blind water snake with an (R) by his/her name should have won easily for the GOP — as yet another bit of evidence to prove that the Gotham billionaire is “the nation’s worst president.” These are some strong words. They’re also demonstrably false.
And this brings me to the theme of the past year. I don’t want to unload on George Will per se. In fact, he’s one of my favorite pundits; I have many of his books, read his columns often, have watched him for years on the Sunday morning talk shows . . . oh, and he’s a Cubs fan who grew up in Champaign, Illinois. What’s not to like? So, the fact that even such an astute observer as Mr. Will can be so infected by #NeverTrump (the milder white-shoe conservative strain of the Left’s own rage virus that is Trump Derangement Syndrome) says much about the idea I mention above. Opinions that die hard can be quite harmful. In trading it hits the pocketbook. In punditry it diminishes one’s credibility as a clear thinker.
To be sure, I didn’t support Trump in the primaries for all the reasons many conservatives didn’t: his brash shoot-from-the-hip, often factually challenged, style made me conclude someone more even keel should have access to the nuclear codes; his general diminishment in the tone and character of a presidential race that, given the gravity of the office in question, demanded more decorum; I didn’t trust his conservative bona fides, especially with the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s pivotal seat sitting vacant; I doubted that he could transfer his undeniable business and selling skills (you think it’s easy to make a buck in Manhattan real estate?) to the White House. Not to mention, from a realpolitik standpoint, I honestly thought Hillary Clinton would easily defeat him in the general election . . . and a Hillary presidency would have been a death sentence for the Republic I love as it would have meant continued globalist policies, an ever-expanding confiscatory and regulatory state apparatus, open borders, the permanent left-tilt of an activist judiciary, and, worst of all, the abject cancer of corruption in the D.C. body politic that would have metastasized under her sleazy stewardship in the White House.
Well, guess what? I was wrong. At least so far. And I’ll admit it. Happily so, as I care more for the well-being of my country than being right.
What has me so vexed is how, even now, with the evidence before us, otherwise bright men like George Will still refuse to admit the same. If anything, like a bad trader watching a market crater as he buys and buys as his losses exponentially mount, he’s actually doubling down.
So, I’d like to offer this thought experiment: How would the #NeverTrump-ers like Mr. Will and others have responded if in 2016 I looked into my crystal ball and told them that Mitt Romney, or Jeb Bush, or perhaps John Kasich, would become the 45th president, and they would achieve the following in just their first year in office:
1) The economy would grow for three consecutive quarters at greater than 3%, and even top 4% in Q4. Consumer confidence by year’s end would be at a 17-year high, and unemployment a 16-year low.
2) The DJIA would rally from election night until the end of the 2017, 35%, from roughly 18,300 to 24,700.
3) Federal regulations would be curtailed at rate of 15:1, meaning that for every new federal rule, 15 would be red-lined off the books.
4) The Keystone Pipeline would finally be green-lighted, as would drilling in ANWR, creating even greater U.S. energy independence, which makes future meddling in the Mideast less a strategic necessity than since before World War II, while diminishing the power and influence of OPEC.
5) 80% of taxpayers would see sweeping middle class tax relief in one of the most consequential tax overhauls in modern history.
6) A bona fide strict constructionist conservative would fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court once held by the great Antonin Scalia as well as over 50 conservatives appointed to appellate and district courts . . . all lifetime appointments, re-shaping the federal judiciary for a generation. These judges would be hand-picked with a mind to, as Bahar Azmy, the Legal Director of the left-leaning Center of Constitutional Rights, laments, “end the progressive state.”
7) ISIS would be obliterated, without new U.S. boots on the ground. The reversal of the tide of the war has been so laudable, in fact, that even The New York Times recently admitted the administration has not been given enough credit by an openly hostile press.
8) The U.S. would finally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital city, and have his very competent U.N. ambassador put all ingrate nations who condemn this action on notice that they will be remembered when it comes time to open the checkbook. And in the meantime, we’ll keep $185 million from even what Mr. Will calls “The United Regimes” for the American people, thank you much.
9) Illegal immigration would fall by over 60% while the federal government would once again be in the business of law enforcement, rather than selective application for political expediency, as was Mr. Trump’s predecessor’s practice. It wasn’t long ago that Mr. Will himself declared President Obama’s abuse of executive power in skirting the legal process a disregard for the Constitution that was “worse than Nixon’s.”
10) Two entrenched and entitled familial political dynasties, who viewed the presidency not as a temp job on behalf of the American people but rather a regal birthright, were destroyed and sent into long-overdue retirement. Mr. Will often warned of the “imperial presidency.” And yet, had the establishment in which he finds himself so ensconced after forty-some years inside the beltway had its way, in 2016 the American people would have faced a choice for the next president between the wife of a former president on one side, and the son and brother of former presidents on the other.
And number ten seems to be the key, doesn’t it? There really is a D.C. establishment that values the status quo because it’s been just so lucrative for them. Big, entrenched government means big money, no matter what side of the aisle you sit. Seven of the ten richest counties in the USA do not populate cradles of innovation like Silicon Valley, nor financial hubs like Wall Street, nor manufacturing belts along the Great Lakes, but rather are attached like barnacles on the D.C. beltway. This speaks volumes about what is at stake for those on the inside. Government of a size and scope that would make the Founders howl is the lifeblood of so many found among the #NeverTrump-ers as much as for the “big government liberals” they decry. As Newt Gingrich once quipped, Republicans like to spend other people’s money as much as Democrats, they just feel guilty about it. Not guilty enough to root for the success of the man who wants to derail your gravy train though. They will not go gently into that good night.
So once again, I ask so-called conservatives like Mr. Will and others, if the above list of measurable accomplishments were achieved under a Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney administration, would he still consider the man at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue “the nation’s worst president”? That will come as a relief to Warren Harding, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Barak Obama, and Woodrow Wilson, but I don’t see the data points behind such a clarion call.
Is Donald Trump the ideal face behind the new American agenda? No. I can understand how he turns off people on a personal level. But as they say on The Godfather, this is business, it’s not personal. And the business of America, so far, has been taken care of far better than I expected. I’ll admit it. As Ben Shapiro often demonstrates with his “Good Trump/Bad Trump” segments, there is much to criticize as well as applaud. But to call him with uncharacteristic hyperbole “the nation’s worst president”? Come now, Mr. Will. As we say in trading, someone is talking their book.
I would call Mr. Will’s motivations the stubbornness of the small-minded, but his mind is anything but. Perhaps it’s just the disillusion of those who wanted the Clintons gone, but were never willing to nominate the type of bruiser it really took to really take them down by playing their own game. If Trump’s style is such a turn-off to Mr. Will and other Bill Buckley-esque conservatives that it negates his litany of very real accomplishments, then I don’t know what to tell them. As for me, who am I going to believe? My pre-conceived notions, or my own eyes? The eyes have it. 2018 should be interesting as the marginalization of the old guard media-political establishment continues under the relentless pressure of an orange monster . . . and in the face of the more incessant, petulant, childish, and mean-spirited opposition from more sides, be it from the GOP and conservative establishment, the DNC and their Praetorian Guard in the mainstream media, or the paragons of virtue and deep thought in Hollywood and late-night TV, than any president has ever had to endure, or should ever have to.
Let’s hope the data, rather than personal distaste for the man, eventually lifts the scales from George Will’s eyes. Methinks he doth protest too much. If the past year’s accomplishments were at the hands of any other Republican, he’d be singing a far different tune than labeling him “the nation’s worst president.” Or not. Although it doesn’t really matter. No one beyond the D.C. cocktail party circuit, the college lecture hall, and the think-tanks really seem to care what he has to say anymore . . . as the election of 2016 amply demonstrated. Too bad. Cubs fans are usually more fun than this.
George Will is an elitist, know-it-all, twit. Trump’s style may be a little rough around the edges but his accomplishments speak for themselves. – The Liberator