When Donald J. Trump won the presidency in November, I feared we were putting the Joker into the White House. Instead, we got Batman.
With Trump just days away from marking his first six months in office, count this onetime Never Trumper as a mostly solid supporter of our 45th president.
For me, the 18 months preceding the election were a tough slog through the miasma of Republican politics. As 2015 drew to a close, Trump wasn’t in my top 10 picks to be the GOP presidential candidate. Although I knew illegal immigration, his main issue, was a huge concern in many states, it wasn’t a big thing for me; Michigan has a bigger problem with losing population. And while John McCain is a horrible senator, I admire his heroism as a POW. I’ve rarely been angrier over politics than when Trump mocked McCain’s service.
To be honest, I’d never thought much about Trump. I don’t golf, gamble, visit expensive resorts or watch reality TV. On the other hand, I do follow the media so I was aware of his business successes, his marital shenanigans and his bankruptcies. When I did hear his political views, they usually parroted the liberal drivel of the day.
When he came out as a rightist a few years ago by resurrecting the Obama birther controversy, I considered his efforts counterproductive. Obama’s policies and administration were destructive to the fabric of America; diverting attention to a disproven rumor only reinforced public support for Obama.
As the presidential primary season got underway in 2015, I was dismayed when Trump floated atop the field and my favorites — Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina and others (never, ever did I include Jeb!) — fell by the wayside. By the time it was clear that Trump was about to clinch the nomination, I was boning up on third-party candidates that I could support in November.
But then a funny thing happened: Trump announced a list of judges he would consider for the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. Every single one sounded like an excellent choice. Knowing what kind of person Hillary would nominate to the court, I suddenly felt my opposition to Trump melt a bit.
During the course of the general campaign, Trump said some things that excited me and some that embarrassed me. But neither Hillary nor any of the third-party hopefuls were an option. I may not have trusted Trump to be a true conservative, but, thanks to his list, I thought he was more likely than anyone else to handle court appointments and other key issues.
At the start of November, polls showed Hillary ahead of Trump by about 4 points in Michigan. Realizing that Trump had a slim chance to carry the state, I called more than a dozen family members and friends and begged them to vote for him. I believe my efforts played a tiny role in Trump becoming the first GOP presidential nominee to win Michigan since 1988.
Since he entered the White House, I have been happy with Trump’s performance far more often than I’ve been disappointed. Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the high court is his chief accomplishment, but the quality of his Cabinet selections is unparalleled. I haven’t seen such a collection of top-notch talent in Washington since the Reagan years.
I also love Trump’s relentless and wide-ranging war against costly regulations.
To me, “draining the swamp” means getting rid of the nameless leftists who have burrowed into the federal bureaucracy and wield unconstitutional power over almost all aspects of American life. As a president who thought himself above the political fray, George H.W. Bush paid little attention to bureaucrats — unlike Bill Clinton, who packed the agencies with hordes of allies. George W. Bush was so apolitical he tried to cover up the antics of the Clintonista vandals who pried the “W” from government keyboards in anger after Al Gore lost in 2000.
If Trump can get some conservatives into the civil service bureaucracy, I’ll be happy. It would be nearly as important as making an imprint on the federal judiciary.
But count me among the many who think Trump should think twice or thrice before tweeting. While I hate the media as much as he does (and applaud when he scores direct hits), his Twitter feed too often takes attention away from achievements he makes on other fronts. Trump’s tweets also have fanned the spurious and scurrilous tales about Russian intervention in the 2016 election.
When Trump took office, my two main fears were that he would ignite a global trade war and cozy up to Vladimir. Neither seems likely now. Wiser heads have persuaded him that tussles over trade would cause a worldwide disaster, and Trump has dealt with Putin far more sternly than Barack Obama ever did.
We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, and nobody can foresee what will happen in the next 42 months. The media’s obsession with Russia hopefully will backfire eventually, and the Democrats’ love affair with the hard left could possibly push more moderates to the right political side.
Trump might not have come close to perfection in his first six months, but he’s done far better than I had any right to expect. If Congress gives him some victories and the economy picks up, I’ll be chanting “Four more years!” with plenty of comrades in 2020.