- - Monday, March 5, 2018


Donald Trump has won his war with the traditional media, the Hollywood luminaries, and it leaves the Democrats gasping for breath with no idea of where to go next. Historians will need a little time to figure out what happened. Meanwhile, new wars beckon, as they always will.

The lions (and lambs) of the big media, sometimes the last to know what’s actually going on around them, continue to carp at every misstep Mr. Trump makes, especially his mastery of the alternative media. He has learned to use these new communication tools, even if he usually does it with little grace. Hollywood pretenders to political acumen continue to be frustrated that whatever they do in their make-believe roles, their influence on real life continues to be somewhere between zero and none.

Neither the leading media, so called, nor Hollywood’s glitteries have come to terms with the fact that a rebellious public decided not take instructions in 2016, saying “no thanks” to the candidates of the Establishment. Plain folks voted for the candidate as unwashed as they are, and the hysterical opposition of the Establishment might even have helped the unwashed cause.

Only fools put the rent money on election bets, but the great Democratic slam dunk in the 2018 midterm congressional elections is beginning to look like anything but a successful dunk. It’s early, of course, but some wise men are reluctantly concluding that not only might there not be the usual major losses for the incumbent president’s party in November, but it’s conceivable — the wise men are not yet willing to say it out loud — that the Republicans will keep the House with no significant nibbling at their 24-seat majority, and pick up a Senate seat, or two or three, or even four. That would be a severe setback to all the noble-thinking folk who are only beginning to recover from the heart attacks, strokes and aggravated gout suffered on election night of 2016.

Confusion runs rampant. Robert Mueller was signed to sort out the Trump-Putin collusion everyone said there was to see if only someone looked, but Robert Mueller has so far brought forth only a few mice. He has achieved every lawyer’s dream, a permanent client.

There’s no secret to Mr. Trump’s success. As a businessman who inherited a small fortune and turned it into an enormous one, he’s a gambler. He has produced the largest tax reduction in American history, and the political payoff might be enormous, too. He made a pass at the American health system, and nibbled off a small unpopular piece of it, the requirement for everyone to buy insurance whether they want it or not, and he might yet persuade the Europeans, the Japanese and the Chinese to give up some of the trade breaks they enjoy at American expense. He won’t get the broad tariff cuts he has proposed, but a trader who boasts that he’s the master of the art of the deal doesn’t expect to get all he asks for.

The mere possibility of a second Trump term perplexes, confounds, discombobulates and ultimately infuriates his critics and proponents, but the possibility is real. It’s not yet a probability, but only fools are laughing at the idea.

Sooner or later, the president will turn his full attention to foreign policy. He inherited problems on his watch that have been festering for years. The most pressing is what to do about a barbaric regime in North Korea which may be close to developing a transcontinental nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting any town or city between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

This would be unbearable, even for Democrats. China’s direct and indirect support for Pyongyang appears to be the Gordian knot that will have to be cut, no small job. In the Middle East, the poisonous stew bubbling on the back (and sometimes front) burner since the end of World War II grows ever more toxic. Tehran’s aggressive revolutionary regime is under domestic pressure and the president will have to find ways to apply pressure, with the European allies always eager to second-guess and get in the way. Not least of the president’s headaches is Vladimir Putin’s attempt to assume the imperial roles of czarist Russia and the Soviet Union.

No one ever said a president’s lot is a happy one. The job is demanding and often with no solutions at hand, even for an inventive original like Donald Trump, the first businessman to take on America’s business as business.

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