By Don Surber
After President Trump’s first two weeks behind the Resolute desk, Washington is “panting,” to use the verb selected by Carol Lee and Peter Nicholas of the Wall Street Journal.
President Trump wants to be the tornado that hit and flattened Washington. From captain of his class in military school, to billionaire playboy, to television star, and finally, to president of the United States, Donald Trump does not lose often.
My money is on him.
Trump’s style is that of the O.K. Crackerby, a fictional character played by Burl Ives in a TV series of the same name. It ran only 17 episodes in the 1965-66 season on ABC.
Crackerby was an oil man from Stillwater, Oklahoma, who was the richest man in the world.
In the opening episode, he flew to Palm Beach with his daughter and two sons in tow. Unable to get the penthouse suite, he picked up the desk phone, made one call, and within five minutes bought The Havenhurst Hotel.
A few seconds later, the camera showed a worker putting the final touches on the new sign: The Havenhurst Crackerby.
A half-century later, there is Trump changing the capital’s name to Trump City.
His inauguration speech was not that of a politician trying to be a statesman — there was no talk of any torches being passed on to a new generation. He simply laid down the law. He used the occasion to tell D.C. the high life is over, and it is time to serve America again.
Trump is the CEO who led a hostile takeover of the federal government — and if any employees don’t like it, there’s the door.
He hit the ground running upon election and then sped things up once inaugurated.
He is having the time of his life, well worth the $66 million he ponied up to fund his campaign and the billion bucks he will forgo in income he could have made if it were not for the campaign and his first term. Economists call that an opportunity cost.
Trump is the center of world politics, as the president of the United States should be.
The guy who had the job before was too lame and inexperienced to wear the crown.
But Barack Obama was better than the alternatives: a former first lady, an undisciplined war hero, and a Mormon groomed for the job his daddy wanted but lost when he said Johnson brainwashed him in Vietnam.
Americans in the 1960s decided they did not want a brainwashed president.
And in 2016, Americans decided politicians failed them, and they did not want a politician either.
He is pushing his agenda — largely written by Heritage Foundation wonks — fast and furious. The denizens of D.C. are panting for air.
“Just two weeks into his administration, Donald Trump’s presidency is off to a rapid pace. But even by his standards, Monday was especially frenzied,” Sam Stein of Huffington Post complained.
Stein quoted David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign adviser.
“There are so many fires burning in so many different places that there is sensory overload. There was a lot of action at the beginning of the Obama administration. But it was focused on dealing with a crisis. This is of a different nature and magnitude. I wouldn’t say an order of magnitude, because order is not necessarily part of it,” Axelrod said.
Trump has flooded the zone.
Washington is a sleepy old town that rolls at its own, Civil Service-protected speed. This reflects the political class, which thrives on problems. Actually solving those problems is another matter.
Democrats think filibusters can stop him.
But Trump’s bombastic style has given Republicans an alternative approach to going along to get along. Obama stiff-armed them in 2009 and 2010, and Harry Reid kept sticking his foot out to trip them when they walked down the aisle.
When Democrats boycotted a committee vote on two Cabinet nominees, they wanted to stop the vote. The rules say at least one Democrat must be present at such a vote.
Committee chairman Orrin Hatch changed the rules.
“I don’t care what they want at this point,” Hatch said afterward. And when reporters complained that they had to scramble to cover the meeting after covering the Democratic press conference announcing the boycott, Hatch said, “You were scrambling? Well, you know, that’s neither here nor there.”
I cannot give Trump full credit. Republicans have had it after putting up with eight years of Democrats gloating over their power.
And credit Mitch McConnell for standing tall and refusing to let Obama pick Justice Scalia’s replacement. That act kept the Supreme Court in play and provided enough hold-your-nose votes to elect Trump president.
But as they say in baseball, it looks like a line drive in the box score. Trump is moving forward like he had a landslide, so maybe he did. Shane Goldmacher and Eli Stokols of Politico noted the fast pace works.
“Donald Trump’s first two weeks have been a frenetic sprint that has unsettled Washington and left a rattled world wondering what’s next. [SNIP] The strategy? To send one deafening message that rings louder than all the seeming commotion: Trump is bringing a sledgehammer to the status quo,” they wrote.
The sledgehammer is to get their attention. Trump explained this at the National Prayer Breakfast.
“The world is in trouble, but we’re going to straighten it out, okay? That’s what I do. I fix things. We’re going to straighten it out. Believe me,” Trump said.
Sure, he has a large ego, but I do not think that is the reason he ran. I think he ran because he thought his nation was led by people who want America to be a second-rate country.
His CEO approach to a system broken by politicians takes some understanding. His UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, lit into Russia, which CNN would have you believe elected Trump.
“Haley was speaking at an emergency UN meeting about a sudden upsurge in violence in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army. Her remarks were notable for the stark difference between her rhetoric and Trump’s,” CNN reported.
I guess good cop/bad cop is a concept foreign to CNN.
This incident shows the difference between a politician and a CEO. A politician would appoint Nikki because she is a she and a minority and cute as a button. A CEO would hire Governor Haley because she is tough as nails and won’t back down.
The Crackerby show lasted only four months. It didn’t have much of a plot beyond buying the hotel.
Let that be a lesson to The Donald. Becoming president was only the opening scene. Americans want more than just a change in the name on the sign.
Don Surber is a retired newspaperman of forty years experience living in Poca, West Virginia. In July, he published Trump the Press on Amazon, a look at how the experts got the Republican nomination wrong.His new book, Trump The Establishment is a sequel covering the election.