Trump – Looking Back

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

Now that Trump has gone, or at least is no longer President, the question becomes, what to make of his Presidency.  It was certainly unique. Whether you supported Trump or despised him, Trump was one of the most impactful presidents in American history.  He was President at a time went the country was polarized more than at any time since the Civil War. His critics blame him. Still, while he is certainly far from blameless, any fair-minded person would point out that the division which now split the country has been growing for decades.  Rather than causing the polarization, Trump’s Presidency is more likely a result.

How would I grade the Trump Presidency? Mixed.  His Presidency falls into two distinct categories,  personality and policy. In terms of personality, Trump’s Presidency is hard to evaluate because his greatest strength was also his greatest weakness.  All the Republican presidents and candidates for President in my lifetime have been savaged. This is to be expected from the Democrats, but the news media have also savaged them.  More importantly, this has gotten worse over the years.  McCain was a darling of the press until he became the nominee.  Romney was arguably the nicest person ever to run for office and yet was portrayed as a callous man who let his employees die. For decades Republicans have been routinely called racists, greedy, and wanting to kill people. In one commercial, House Speaker Paul Ryan was depicted as pushing a grandmother over a cliff.

A common attitude among Republicans in 2016 was that we had tried candidates who were nice; we need a fighter. Republicans wanted a candidate who would not cower under the pressure of such attacks.  One thing you can say about Trump is that he did not cower. He fought back.  This was his greatest strength, an ego so large there was no room for self-doubt.  It was also his greatest weakness. Everything was about him, and everything he did was the biggest, the best, the greatest, the largest.

This boosting immediately ran into trouble with a hostile press looking to find even the slightest flaw. Trump soon became fact-checked like no other politician ever had been, which continued a negative spiral with the press all too willing to distort, misrepresent and at times even lie.  

Worse of all, Trump’s ego often got in the way of what he was doing.  Often good news of his administration’s accomplishments was stepped on, not by Democrats trying to divert attention, but by Trump himself as he felt compelled to respond to some perceived slight. In this respect, Trump was often his own worse enemy.

On a side note here, this was one of the reasons I always thought the charge that Trump was racist, or a white supremacist, to be absurd.  For Trump, only one thing matters, Trump.  For him, the world is divided into those who support him and those who don’t.  Nothing else really matters.

The other aspect of Trump’s Presidency is policy, what he did and got accomplished.  His policies are much easier to judge.  His list of accomplishments and success is easily one of the best of any President.  A list of over a hundred Trump accomplishments was fact-checked in the New York Times, mostly true.  Then there were the tax cuts leading to the economy under Trump being one of the best, if not the best, on record.

In area after area, Trump was able to accomplish what others had only promised but failed to deliver. One area where I disagreed with Trump was in the area of free trade.  However, Trump achieved trade deals I did not think were possible. He started rebuilding the military, creating Space Force.  Despite the Democrats and the media’s false rhetoric, his foreign policy accomplishments were many, culminating in the impossible, 4 Middle East peace agreements. These agreements would not have happened without Trump’s leadership, as many Democrats denounced his efforts as destructive and doomed to fail. 

Even with COVID, Trump’s leadership was strong. While the Democrats were busy with the first impeachment, Trump formed a task force on the virus.   Biden called him xenophobic when he shut down flights from China to slow the spread of the virus.  Other Democrats said there was nothing to worry about.  When in March the danger became apparent to all, Democratic governors in California and New York praised Trump’s efforts to help deal with the crisis. 

Early on, the Trump administration stated Operation Warp-Speed to accelerate the development and distribution of a vaccine.  It is a testament to the power of the Democrats and their media allies that as the election grew closer, they were able to ignore all this.  They started to claim Trump did not have a plan. If that was not enough, they said he was responsible for every death. When the history of this period is written, Trump will have a lot to answer for. Still, the naked politicization of the COVID virus by the Democrats and their media allies will be their shame.

How do I grade all this?  The policy is easy. Booming economy before Covid; rebuilt the military, historic trade deals, Middle East peace, and operation Warp-Speed, to name but a few. He gets a solid A.  When grading his personality, one could look at the pros and cons and give him a C. I don’t because, with the policy record Trump accomplished, he should have been unbeatable. Yes, the ruling elites were all against him, but he could have overcome all that.  A major reason his record was not better known was that he kept stepping on his own story. Even in the election campaign, there was too much about Trump and not enough about his accomplishments.  Sure his followers knew what he did.  But not enough voters did.

In any election as close as 2020, there is no single reason why one candidate won or lost.  Any number of things could have changed the outcome. However, Trump’s personality is in his control or at least should be.  His inability to let the story be about his administration’s accomplishments rather than about him cost him the election.  For this, I give him a grade of D. 

Feb 2nd, 2021

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