- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Never Trump crowd has an unwavering belief that Donald Trump is unhinged, unfit for the presidency — an irrational actor who is dangerous on the world stage.

Yet he continues to make good, reasonable and rational decisions.

Mr. Trump’s pick of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser was met with universal praise.

“Lt. General H.R. McMaster is an outstanding choice for national security adviser,” Sen. John McCain, who has been a fierce critic of Mr. Trump, said in a statement. “I give President Trump great credit for this decision, as well as his national security Cabinet choices. I could not imagine a better, more capable national security team than the one we have right now.”

It’s not likely Gen. McMaster will be a yes man in the White House, rubber-stamping all of Mr. Trump’s agenda.

In Gen. McMaster’s 1997 book “Dereliction of Duty,” he criticized high-ranking military officers in the Vietnam era for not doing enough to stand up to the decisions made by then Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon B. Johnson.

And Mr. Trump’s already shown he can listen and is willing to be persuaded, even as the Never Trump crowd continues to think him a dictator.

Mr. Trump has had key differences with his Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — and yet has deferred to him multiple times.

In his job interview, Mr. Mattis said he didn’t believe in torture and thought that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should be adhered to. Although Mr. Trump said he wasn’t sure if he agreed with Mr. Mattis on torture, he’d allow the defense secretary to “override” him on the policy.

Last week, Mr. Mattis traveled to Europe and reassured our allies that the U.S. would maintain its position in NATO. However, he also gave them a warning — they needed to pay up and honor their commitments in the alliance as well. The latter was a key talking point of Mr. Trump’s on the campaign trail, of which Mr. Mattis followed through on.

Never Trump critics are baffled at Mr. Trump’s seemingly divergent foreign policy positions — one moment he’s threatening to dissolve trade agreements, the next accommodating traditional stances, such as honoring the “One China” policy.

But Michael Auslin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argued in the Wall Street Journal that Mr. Trump’s foreign policy is completely rational and consistent. On issues that directly affect domestic concerns, he pursues radical changes. In matters that are truly foreign, he adheres to conventional stances.

It’s an “America first” foreign policy — exactly like Mr. Trump said it was going to be.

“What looks like inconsistency is actually an instinct deeply grounded in his worldview,” Mr. Auslin wrote. “Mr. Trump rejects the widely held belief that globalization always benefits American interests. This may be his most lasting challenge to the post-war international order. Still, the Trump administration appears willing to live up to commitments and responsibilities that do not impose costs at home.”

Domestically, Mr. Trump is also delivering.

Like his latest pick for national security adviser, Neil Gorsuch, his appointee to the Supreme Court, was also unilaterally praised for his experience and deliberative decisions.

Judge Gorsuch was on the list of potential Supreme Court Justice picks that Mr. Trump presented on the campaign and promised he would select from. He delivered on that promise — nothing crazy there.

Mr. Trump’s Cabinet picks have also been the most conservative in recent U.S. history.

Politico called them Mr. Trump’s “conservative dream team,” while CNN wrote how Mr. Trump’s proposed Cabinet was a “boon for conservatives not populists.”

The Never Trump crowd nodded in approval, amid their disbelief.

Which brings me to the question: when are they going to start believing? Is there anything Mr. Trump can do that can soothe their fears? Or are they the ones acting irrationally?

There’s no doubt, Mr. Trump will continue his freewheeling press conferences and tweet early in the morning. Much of this is pure rhetoric — none of it terribly consequential, most of it entertaining.

Mr. Trump’s young administration has hit some potholes, most notably his immigration executive order, which the courts put a stay on. There will be other hiccups along the way as his team fills out and adapts to proper protocols. It’s still early, they’re still working it out.

But Mr. Trump will never act “presidential” in the way the Never Trump crowd wants to see, because he isn’t a politician.

This cycle, the American people gambled on something different — they rejected candidates with political experience, and bet on a successful businessman, a reality-television host who had been in their living rooms for well over a decade. They knew what they were getting in Mr. Trump — his over-the-top bombast and politically incorrect nature — and they voted for him anyway.

Because they wanted change.

He promised them jobs, acknowledged their suffering and pledged to put Americans first in everything — national security, foreign policy, economic matters.

As long as he delivers on what he said he was going to do, that’s all they care about.

So far, he has. And there’s nothing irrational about it.

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