- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It’s all chaos, mayhem and fraught with peril: That is the media narrative which led up to President-elect Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday. This is not the case; the incoming president and his staff are methodically taking care of business, organizing the transitional White House and administration, and those who will people it. The press is in full cry, however. The New York Times warned the event could be cancelled. The Huffington Post condemned the press conference before it even started, declaring that Mr. Trump’s events “turn into spectacles that provide few answers,” and predicting  he would “take shots at President Obama.” Again, that was not the case. Any noisy political theater at the conference involved a member of the press rather than Mr. Trump himself.

The latest round of “fake news” possibilities has also surfaced following the publication Tuesday of unverified claims about Mr. Trump in BuzzFeed, which were immediately discounted by the incoming president and his staff. The claims, however, continue to be the centerpiece of many a news story.

Meanwhile, the “Big Three” broadcasters are having their say.  NBC framed Mr. Trump’s ongoing Cabinet nomination process as “confirmation chaos” — only a single example of what appears to be a calculated spin, particularly from ABC, CBS and NBC.

“All three network morning shows parroted Democrats’ complaints that confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees were being scheduled at too fast a pace and promoted fears that the President-elect’s picks may be plagued by scandals that had yet to be discovered,” says Kyle Drennen, an analyst for Newsbusters.org, a conservative press watchdog.

Pollsters are also in on it. A new Pew Research poll released Monday asked respondents if they felt Mr. Trump was “impulsive,” and heralds this summary: “Ahead of Donald Trump’s scheduled press conference in New York City on Wednesday, the public continues to give the president-elect low marks for how he is handling the transition process. Most disapprove of the job he has done outlining his plans for the country’s future and there remain widespread concerns about his potential conflicts of interest.”

There have been few calls for critics to ease up on the negativity, which has been percolating for two months. But a few stepped forward — like basketball great Shaquille O’Neal. “Trump promised a lot of people a lot of things. Now that he’s president-elect, you just hope that he can make the world a better place. He won fair and square. We have to give him a chance,” Mr. O’Neal observed — all the way back in November.

HILLARY’S ‘GHOST CABINET’

If Hillary Clinton had won the election, here are her likely cabinet picks according to Mike Allen, co-founder of Politico, and more recently founder of Axios, a new online news organization. Mr. Allen cites his sources for Mrs. Clinton’s prospective “Ghost Cabinet” as “numerous Clinton insiders.” His original list includes 65 names; here are a representative dozen:

Secretary of State, John Podesta; Treasury secretary, Sheryl Sandberg; defense secretary, Michele Flournoy; attorney general, Loretta Lynch; Commerce secretary, Gregory Meeks; Labor secretary, Howard Schultz; Health and Human Services, Neera Tanden; Energy secretary, Carol Browner; CIA director, Tom Donilon; White House chief of staff, Ron Klain; deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin; press secretary, Brian Fallon.

The MYTH OF REPUBLICAN EXTREMISTS

A persistent liberal media narrative casts the Republican Party as alarming extremists and ideological outliers.

“Sorry, but the Republican Party isn’t ‘extremist.’ Liberals have been making the same argument for 35 years (at least). It’s still not true,” writes David Harsanyi, executive editor of The Federalist. “For liberals, extremism resides mere millimeters to the right of their own position, which has rapidly shifted left over the past 15 years.”

Mr. Harsanyi continues, “An extremist ‘is a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.’ An outlier is a thing ‘situated away or detached from the main body or system.” Though they may be hopelessly burrowed on the wrong side of history, these definitions do not fit contemporary Republicans. For one thing, the GOP has fundamentally offered the same ideas for the past six congresses, at least. So, by definition, this one isn’t an outlier.”

Republicans support constitutionalism and nationalism, Mr. Harsanyi points out, “both outlooks well within American political tradition.”

HOUSE NOW IN TRUMP MODE

Three cheers for the U.S. House, which on Tuesday passed these “innovation initiative bills” to boost small businesses and promote a nimble government: Helping Angels Lead Our Startups Act. Small Business Broadband Deployment Act, Leveraging Emerging Technologies Act, Support for Rapid Innovation Act, Modernizing Government Travel Act, INSPIRE Women Act and Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.

A TILLERSON DYNAMIC

“The question regarding Rex Tillerson, the secretary of State nominee, is whether his selection is an indication that the Trump foreign policy with regards to Russia and Iran will be largely not to militarily intervene but to drive down the global price of oil and natural gas,” economist David M. Smick says. “Donald Trump leans isolationist in his rhetoric. He seems to believe less in military intervention than in economic intervention. Declining energy prices would be devastating to the Russian and Iranian economies, which have already been in deep trouble in recent years since the global price of oil was cut in half. A drop in global energy prices could conceivably strengthen Trump’s hand diplomatically, giving him far more leverage with these countries than President Obama ever enjoyed. So it would make sense to have Tillerson, a friend of Vladimir Putin, to console the Russian leader during this trying time.”

“The selection of Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator and former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy are consistent with this Trump foreign policy thesis. Second, the corporate border adjusted tax currently being considered by Congress is also consistent. Such a tax would not only lead to a rising dollar but also to declining oil prices,” says Mr. Smick, author of the new book “The Great Equalizer: How Main Street Capitalism Can Create An Economy for Everyone,” published Tuesday by Public Affairs Books.

POLL DU JOUR

89 percent of Americans say protecting religious freedom should be a leading priority for the U.S. Supreme Court.

80 percent say it should be a leading priority to appoint Supreme Court justices who “interpret the U.S. Constitution as originally written.”

65 percent say religious freedom should be protected even if it conflicts with government laws.

52 percent want the entire court to interpret the Constitution in its original form, not what they think “the Constitution is now.”

Source: A Marist/Knights of Columbus poll of 2,729 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 12-19 and released Monday.

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