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July 12th 2017 print

Peter Smith

A Little Credit, Please, Where It Is Due

You expect the Left's scribblers to work themselves into a foot-stomping lather about Donald Trump -- outrage is, after all, what the Left does best. But what of your normally more sensible commentators? If he doesn't fit the presidential mould, so what! His policies are terrific

nevertrumpDonald Trump’s magnificent Warsaw speech was discussed on CNN and MSNBC as being white nationalism in disguise for, among other things, citing symphonies as an achievement of Western civilisation. You couldn’t make it up. Except that leftist hacks can make up anything once a fall guy has been thoroughly demonised as human vermin. They are practised at the dark art.

I have heard Trump described by media commentators as a schmuck, buffoon, pig, crass, grotesque, mentally unstable, racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, vulgarian, narcissistic, coarse, egotistical, shallow, horrible, one-dimensional, an embarrassment, and much more beside; some much worse. How about this from our own Nikki Sava: “Ruts deep in mud.” Even the otherwise estimable Andrew Bolt agreed with Richard Alston[i] that Trump might not “pass the character test.”

No one, apparently, can resist virtue signalling. Just when did media commentators become self-righteous arbiters of good taste and character? And just when did manners trump policies? Pun intended. When Trump became president, that’s when. This brings me to Greg Sheridan

Recently Sheridan offered his opinion that “Trump is a poor president.”[ii] As you would appreciate, this is very mild-mannered when set against most of the personal barbs aimed at Trump. Why have I picked it out? I have picked it out because unlike the rest it is a serious charge. It can be construed as being policy-related,   rather than fitting into the usual script of gratuitous insults.

Trump’s policies matter to over 300 million Americans and, in fact, to all of us. His supposed personality flaws not so much; particularly as none of us should cast the first stone. The question is simple. Is Trump a poor president; and, to boot, after only six months in office? Put it this way. What egregious things has he done? What egregious things does he intend doing?

First things first. If he is a poor president it must mean that he is poor compared with a number of others. Is he poor when compared with, say, Barrack [ISIS, Iran nukes] Obama, George [Iraq] Bush, Bill [North Korean nukes, Monica Lewinsky] Clinton, or with Jimmy [Iran hostages] Carter? It’s too early, you might say, to form any kind of judgement. You’re darn tootin’ it is. At the same time, it is possible to assess what he has done so far, and intends to do, and give him a provisional mark.

I don’t have a complete list of his actions. But try these for size. He has appointed an accomplished cabinet, including Rex Tillerson (State) and General Mattis (Defence). He has succeeded in getting a conservative constitutional judge (Neil Gorsuch) appointed to the Supreme Court.

He has visited Saudi Arabia and urged representatives of the fifty-four Muslim countries who were present to drive out Islamic extremism. He has given his military commanders freedom on the ground to take effective action against ISIS and the Taliban. He is trying (if so far unsuccessfully) to persuade China to do something about North Korea. He has leant on NATO countries to meet their defence obligations; with some success. He has stood up to al-Assad and Russia in Syria. He has improved the US relationship with Israel. He has begun the process to rebuild America’s armed forces. Contrast all of this with Obama’s appeasement and passivity.

He has reduced and removed a host of regulations hampering industry and mining. He is working valiantly with a motley and divided crew of congressional Republicans to get better health insurance, to markedly reduce taxes, and to renew America’s infrastructure. He is taking concrete steps to improve the delivery of health services to veterans. He has appointed talented and committed people to improve schooling (Betsy DeVos) and housing (Ben Carson) for those in depressed inner-city areas. He has tightened border security.

He is determined to build a physical barrier across the southern border to minimise illegal immigration and the importation of illicit drugs. He has withdrawn from the TPP because he reckons it would have hurt American industry. He is renegotiating NAFTA, again to improve the competitive position of American industry. He has withdrawn from the Paris climate accord because he believes (surely rightly) that it tilts the competitive playing field against America and in favour of China among other countries.

I happen to agree with all of the above policies (and give him very high marks). However, it is legitimate to disagree with some or all of them. It is also legitimate to dislike his style. But how in the world do you arrive at the conclusion already that he is a poor president?

Someone else writing in The Australian compared him unfavourably with President Kennedy. Well, he hasn’t achieved a Bay of Pigs fiasco yet or got the US into anything remotely as disastrous as the Vietnam War.

Take a deep breath all of you right-of-centre Trump nit-pickers. Imagine another four years of Obama or, get really bothered, imagine eight years of Hillary Clinton.

Is it possible for those pontificating in the media (irredeemable leftist hacks aside) to give Trump an even break? The world is in a dreadful state – the Middle East, Iran, North Korea, Islamic extremism and terrorism is only part of the woe. Standing between the free world and its enemies is the United States. The US is heavily indebted; its military might run down; its infrastructure in a poor state; its borders too porous; its inner cities crime-ridden; and, believe it or not, a whole gaggle of elite delusionals think that climate change is the biggest threat of all.

A disruptive political leader is needed in these parlous times. If not Trump, who exactly? Who else could take on the establishment with such strength of purpose and plough on resolutely when assailed from all sides? Who else could drain the swamp (or try to). Cometh the moment cometh the man could have been written for him – at least that’s what I hope; though I am suspending final judgment, as should we all.

His carping critics make me sick. Not because they don’t like him or his policies. That’s fine. But because they are seemingly oblivious to the threats we face and apparently believe that more of the same feckless, good-mannered, Western leadership will avert disaster.

They need to open their minds to the possibility that Trump will succeed and not constantly undermine his presidency. He doesn’t fit their preconceived notion of how a president should comport himself. We’ve had a conga line of those who fit the mould. How has that worked out?



[i] Sky News, 10 July

[ii] The Australian, 22 June

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [7]

  1. Peter says:

    President Trump is an amazing leader who really cares about his country, His speech in Poland was wonderful.

  2. Don A. Veitch says:

    Yes, credit where credit is due:
    • TRUMP IS A POLITICAL GENIUS: beat Clinton/Bush/MSM, worked the Electoral system, social media, and used Russia (??) etc.

    • TRUMP IS REVOLUTIONARY: breaks rules and customs as would a Thomas Paine type, an Andrew Jackson (c/f an Edmund Burke type).
    Criticized NATO, confronts the EU types, and breaks treaties on trade/climate/Iran (??). Trump is breaking the gridlocks in the Middle East (turning on the Muslim Brotherhood of Obama etc), maybe also in North Korea. In the name of ‘doing the deal’ he has brokered a middle east solution for Turkey, Israel and ‘Palestine’. Russia keeps Crimea. But look out Philippines and Indonesia.
    He is certainly breaking eggs, but no sign of an omelet for ordinary people, yet!

    • TRUMP HAS RIPPED AWAY THE SLIMY LIBERAL FACADE of America and revealed the truly ‘Ugly American’ reality (more wars, kill terrorists and their families, steal the oil, America first and last, confiscate/privatize the commons, brinkmanship, might is right etc). In that sense he is a typical American doge. But as Leibnitz pointed out : when evil confronts evil (deep state, the Clintons, oligarchic Russia, oligarchic China, jihadists), then good can triumph. So there is hope yet.

    • But Trump is beyond simplistic left/right analysis and we need higher level ‘tools’’ of analysis to understand the Trump phenomena. For example, Trump is an ANTINOMIAN. An antinomian places his narcissism and ego above the Laws of Moses , so Trumpism naturally morphs into the destructive nihilism/amoralism of a Nietzsche or an Ayn Rand (John Galt). Trump (as with Nixon) thinks he is above the law!
    Trump, we know from his speeches, knows of the genius of American system economics (Hamilton, Henry Clay), but he is still too weak to make the omelet.
    Trump needs to get infrastructure built, and tame the billionaire’s pig trough – the Federal Reserve.

  3. padraic says:

    Well said Peter. I agree with you entirely. A lot of those in the media these days are shallow celebrity types of the “he said-she said” calibre and I am sick to death of the ABC drivel and obsession about DT. The “Australian” is the most objective news source in Australia today, although some opinions expressed therein (as opposed to news) may differ from those of some of its readers. When the President published his first immigration paper temporarily restricting entry of people from countries associated with Islamist terrorism I actually read it on the Internet. It was a very reasonable document that wanted a halt until such time there was put in place a system of properly vetting potential visitors from those countries, because the existing system had failed. It was not a big deal, yet the MSM went into spasms about racism etc without telling us what was actually in it. Surely there are other things happening in the world other than sour grapes after losing a democratic election?

  4. en passant says:

    Peter,
    We should baseline Trump and the parlous state of the USA he inherited from the Obamanation, against ToyBoy Macron and the parlous state of France. We can then measure the results of the actions of Trump versus the cltural decline of France. Trump wants to change the situation, whereas Macron wants more of the same – something he (and PrettyBoy Trudeau n Canada) intends to pursue.

    How many times have you read that France and the EU are roadkill for the jihadi vultures? How many times have you heard calls for Trump to also preemptively surrender to the inevitable islamic takeover? Just like Australia where the cultists already outnumber us by 1:50 … However, forget that one lone wolf can destroy a flock of 50 passive sheep.

  5. en passant says:

    I have just had the unfortunate experience of watching Anderson Cooper on CNN. CNN claims they have the ‘smoking gun’ in emails to Trump Jr. asking him to meet with a Russian lawyer.

    According to CNN this is the end for Trump and a victory for the Swamp.

  6. Doc S says:

    I agree Peter and such is the hysteria of the media in reporting anything to do with the Trump administration that it is difficult even for those with a neutral stance towards Trump to get an accurate read out of any of his achievements or lack thereof. Some of the reporting (OK, most of it) borders on or actually is unhinged – take the unnatural obsession with the alleged Russian interference and collusion with the US election and the Trump campaign which, after nearly 10 months has yet to produce even a scintilla of credible evidence or indeed ANY evidence at all! Every revelation is seized upon as the ‘smoking gun’ that will surely lead to Trump’s impeachment – take the latest on Trump Junior’s meeting with the Russians to allegedly get the dirt on Hillary which, to paraphrase Hillary, turned out to be a complete ‘nothing burger’! Note also Trump Jnr. releasing the complete train of emails concerned and contrast this with Hillary’s deletion of hers. Evidence, if any is needed, of the hypocritical double standard to which the Trumps are subjected by the media.

    Out of the entire panoply of US media from the risible and discredited CNN to the conservative(?) Fox Network I have narrowed down the most rational reporting and commentary to a handful – the Canadian émigré commentator Mark Steyn, who often appears on Fox’s Tucker Carlson (formerly MSNBC and CNN), critic Jesse Watters (also part of Fox’s ‘The Five’ news commentary team) and Hannity who just conducted an excellent interview of Trump Jnr. asking him ‘every question he could think of’. These are the only elements of the US media who I believe are reliable.

    What I also find astonishing is the number of hitherto credible academics and critics who readily jump on the ‘this time for sure’ (to quote Bullwinkle Moose) Trump impeachment bandwagon every time one of these dubious revelations surface in the media – such is their visceral hatred of Trump.

  7. SJones says:

    Perfectly said Peter. How is it that so many smart people can’t or won’t see it as plainly presented by you. Well done, keep up the good work.