Right after the election, in an effort to comfort my friends who were deeply distressed at the prospect, I posted “You can live with President Trump. Really” I gave some old and more recent examples of Presidents whose election horrified large segments of the electorate. I had in mind the limitations of the Constitutional checks and balances and the equally powerful limitations of the civilian and military bureaucracies. There turns out to be another restraining force on any erratic Trump impulses.
The solid, steady, even masterful, performances of Trump’s principal cabinet nominees at their Senate confirmation hearings this week should provide additional comfort to the distraught. General Mattis’ grave mien and tough but calmly thoughtful discussion of the most important national security issues inspired confidence that no reckless decisions will be made while he is in the room. Columnist Peggy Noonan imagined a “thought balloon” above the head of Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson, during the yapping of Sen. Marco Rubio: “You can mess with me, son, but it won’t end well for you.”
Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions and CIA Director-designate Mike Pompeo both turned in equally strong testimony at their hearings. Tillerson, Mattis, Pompeo, Sessions and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats have displayed a strength and independence, assuring us that there will always be a grown-up present when the big calls are made.
None of that means Trump will not be Trump. We are all going to get used to hearing “He can’t do that! No one does that.” Frankly, I wish he wouldn’t, but he will continue tweeting a response to any criticism. Too often his tweets give prominence to an insignificant critic who otherwise would complain in obscurity. Occasionally though, the benefit of Trump’s unfiltered access to the public shows itself.
Most recently the MSM (mainstream media) have tut-tutted Trump’s temerity in lashing out at “Civil Rights Icon” Congressman Lewis when the Icon had done nothing less than state he would not regard Trump as the “legitimate” President. The same Congressman earlier had harsh words for Trump during the campaign when the candidate suggested he would not agree in advance to accept the election results.
The permanent Washington establishment – the MSM and the revolving-door bureaucrat-lobbyists – now expresses hope that Trump in his inaugural will “unite us” by which they mean return to doing things the way they have always been done. Not likely.