They said it couldn’t be done, and even if it could, Donald Trump wouldn’t be the man to do it. But a fresh wind from somewhere is blowing through the jungle where the timid, the fearful and the politically correct cower in the shade of the no-no tree.
If the Donald were elected, wise men confidently told us, the economy would collapse, America’s friends abroad would die of diplomatic shock, rivers would run backward and the sun would never shine again. Oh, dear. Woe is us.
But suddenly, it’s woe that’s in retreat. The stock market is booming, Americans are smiling again as investor confidence grows and the Donald’s critics who were only yesterday predicting that the world would end by Christmas are no longer so sure. The world might stumble on until Easter.
First Carrier, the iconic air-conditioner manufacturer, decided that well, maybe, it wasn’t so important after all to move everything to Mexico. Maybe it could stick around in Indiana. This upset the naysayers no end, who complained that handing out tax breaks to companies just to stay here and create jobs for Americans was a catastrophic idea, even though the several states have been doing that for years in the endless pursuit of jobs.
Now United States Steel says it has thought about things, maybe it should accelerate its investments in the United States, and bring back workers it laid off when it, too, sang in the Greek chorus of doom and gloom.
“We already structured to do some things,” says Mario Longhi, the CEO of U.S. Steel, “but when you see in the near future improvements to the tax laws, improvements to regulation, those two things by themselves may be a significant driver to what we’re going to do.”
And not just all that. The growing belief in the Trump administration now assembling that the economy, stagnant for lo! these many months of the Obama administration, can grow to at least 3.5 percent adds to what his company can do, Mr. Longhi tells CNBC.
“I’d be more than happy to bring back the employees we’ve been forced to lay off during that depressive period.” He said he might be talking about a truly stunning 10,000 workers. A company spokesman later offered the clarification that Mr. Longhi was talking about the steel industry overall, not just about U.S. Steel. Still, 10,000 jobs is 10,000 jobs, and it’s still stunning.
Even some of the critics who had nothing but sneers and snark for the Donald mere weeks ago are trying to learn the words and music of a different tune now. Al Gore, who has made millions with his global-warming schemes and the actor Leonardo diCaprio, who dreams of titanic wealth harvested from the sun, beat a path to Trump Tower. They emerged separately to say (in artful language) that the Donald may not be the ignorant monster they said he was.
The fresh wind blowing is not all of the Donald’s making, of course, but he’s the one who cracked the ice. McDonald’s, encouraged by what it sees going on in the United States, says it will move its international tax base from Luxembourg to London to escape scrutiny from European Union tax collectors in the wake of the coming British exit from the EU. Maybe Brexit was not so bad, after all.
“We are aligning our corporate structure with the way we do business, which is no longer in geographies,” a company spokesman says. That’s corporate argle-bargle companies pay big bucks to public-relations companies to tell them what to say, but translated into English it means they’re getting out of Europe now that liberation is at hand.
Everyone feels liberated to say what he means. Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, has to be a diplomat and be measured in what he says. But he let fly in Honolulu this week with a tribute to the men and women who died three quarters of a century ago at Pearl Harbor. “You can bet,” he said, “that the men and women we honor today — and those who died on that fateful morning 75 years ago — never took a knee and never failed to stand when they heard our national anthem being played.”
He never mentioned Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who is making a career of sneering at Old Glory now that his football career is foundering. But he didn’t have to. The crowd cheered and whistled for a full minute.
Donald Trump has hard days ahead to deliver what he promised, and he won’t get a lot of help from the loyal opposition. But he has wounded everything politically correct, and that’s a lot. We must pray the wounds are mortal.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.