- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2017

“There is no denying that America elected an exceptional president in Donald Trump, a consummate outsider and the first president ever to have no government or military experience. But as it wraps up its first six months, Trump’s presidency looks more conventional than exceptional,” writes New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin. “Separating the substance from the noise shows him in a position familiar to all new presidents: struggling to turn his campaign promises into reality while juggling foreign-policy challenges and mastering the learning curve of the world’s most powerful job.”

He continues,”Trump also faces unique obstacles. Congressional Democrats remain determined to oppose him on virtually every act and appointment, and most of the media, along with much of the permanent government, remain determined to destroy him. All those things considered, Trump’s record is not as good as he promised, but far better than his detractors predicted.”

Mr. Goodwin later concludes,”Most important, his mistakes and setbacks have not foreclosed the promise of his presidency. He still has an opportunity to reshape the economy so it creates more jobs and better serves working-class Americans. He is nominating federal judges who believe in limited government and don’t want the courts to act as a super-legislature. Despite the drip, drip, drip of mistakes and leaks, I remain cautiously optimistic because I believe Trump’s ego will not let him accept being a failed president. To get lasting success, he must match his ambition with a steady effort to fix the White House so he can deliver consistent victories to the American people If he can do that, even Robert Mueller won’t be able to stop him.”

OHIO FOLKS GRIN OVER TRUMP VISIT

Yes, President Trump will be in Youngstown, Ohio, in less than a week for one of his big, cheerful grass-roots rallies, staged in the Covelli Arena, which holds 6,000 people. And the locals appear pleased.

“To have the president of the United States at the facility is an honor and we’re very excited. To have a sitting president in our facility and in our town is awesome,” the arena’s director Eric Ryan told the Youngstown Vindicator, a local newspaper.

“Washington Democrats hate him, the mainstream media despise him, inside-the-beltway Republicans aren’t sure what to make of him, but middle America loves him. Tuesday, he’s coming to the heart of America where thousands of Democrats crossed over to vote for him, and it’s going to be great,” noted Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party.

Mr. Trump, incidentally, won 46.6 percent of the votes in the county in 2016; Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton garnered 49.9 percent. It was the best showing for a Republican in the Democratic stronghold since Richard Nixon’s victory in 1972, The Vindicator said.

LAWMAKERS LOVE BILLION-DOLLAR PORK

Annoying and expensive habits persist in Congress, particularly among lawmakers who like to spend taxpayer money on pet projects for their district, otherwise known as pork-barrel spending, or “earmarks.” In their 25th annual guide to this phenomenon, Citizens Against Government Waste reveals that there were 163 earmarks in the fiscal 2017 budget — weighing in at $6.8 billion, and up 33 percent since fiscal 2016. In addition, Congress has approved 110,605 earmarks costing $329.9 billion since 1991.

The assorted projects included $55 million for “environmental infrastructure,” $9 million for “aquatic plant control,” and $5 million for “fish passage and fish screens” in the nation’s watersheds.

Tom Schatz, president of the watchdog group released the findings Wednesday in the company of Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Joni Ernst, Republican Study Committee chair Mark Walker, and Reps. Bill Flores, Ron DeSantis, Jim Banks and an agreeable pot-bellied pig named Faye.

“Some members of Congress are trying to return the wasteful and corrupt system to prominence even after taxpayers delivered a ‘drain the swamp’ message to D.C. less than one year ago,” says Mr. Schatz. “The only way to clean up Washington is to do the opposite, and adopt a permanent ban on pork-barrel earmarks.”

CULTURE, OPPORTUNITY AND J.D. VANCE

It is a cultural moment all on its own. J.D. Vance — author of the very popular “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” — offers the keynote remarks Thursday for a significant event at The Heritage Foundation in the nation’s capital. The leading conservative think tank releases “The 2017 Index of Culture and Opportunity: The Social and Economic Trends that Shape America,” and it is a humdinger.

“The problems of culture and opportunity demand smarter and better policy at all levels of government, participation of civic institutions, and energetic private-sector players. But asking the right questions is a necessary first step,” says Mr. Vance.

On hand for the thoughtful doings: Helen M. Alvare, George Mason University law professor; the Rev. Derek McCoy, executive vice president, Center for Urban Renewal and Education; William Mattox, director of the J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options at James Madison Institute; Henry Olsen, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Israel Ortega, spokesperson for the LIBRE Initiative. The 90-minute event will be livestreamed at 10 a.m. EDT at Heritage.org.

ONE FOR CALLISTA

Citizens for the Republic PAC has given a glowing endorsement of Callista Gingrich as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, calling her a “devoted Catholic and conservative leader.” The political action committee — founded by President Ronald Reagan in 1977 — also cites Mrs. Gingrich’s role as president of Gingrich Productions, a multimedia company, serving as executive producer of four commercial films about the life of Pope John Paul II.

“We have known and worked with the Gingrich family for many years. Callista will be an exemplary ambassador and a great representative of the U.S. abroad.” says Craig Shirley, chairman of the PAC, and a biographer of both Reagan and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — the future ambassador’s husband of 17 years.

POLL DU JOUR

30 percent of Americans have a “specific Protestant denomination.” Of this group, 10 percent are Baptist, 4 percent Methodist, 4 percent Lutheran, 3 percent Southern Baptist, 3 percent “other,” 2 percent Presbyterian, 2 percent Pentecostal, 1 percent Church of Christ and 1 percent Episcopal.

22 percent of Americans overall are Catholic.

20 percent say they have “no specific religious identity.”

17 percent call themselves “non-specific Protestants.”

Source: A Gallup poll of 2,053 U.S. adults conducted May 4-8 and Dec. 7-11 and released Wednesday.

Ballyhoo and balderdash to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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