- - Thursday, April 21, 2022

Inflation just hit 8.5%, the highest in four decades. A few months ago, we had one of the strongest economies and one of the best international situations in history. What went wrong?

The nastiest trick ever played on American voters was the successful 2020 campaign for president by the Democrats and President Biden. He was hidden in his Delaware basement and was described as a moderate who would pursue a unifying agenda and would be a model of civility. His access to the media was limited, so there was little chance that the real radical policies contemplated by the Democrats could be discovered. And, of course, the media showed little in the way of curiosity.

On inauguration day, Mr. Biden’s speech was the essence of unity and decorum. Then he went to the White House and signed executive orders that radicalized the nation. In the days that followed, his proposals to Congress were so blatantly leftist that even the Democratic Party majority on Capitol Hill could not swallow them. The coronavirus was weaponized to allow the president to act without congressional approval.

The result of these early activities was choking down oil and gas production, leading to a loss of energy independence, a spending spree that led to massive inflation, an economy in free fall from COVID-19 mandates, a justice system more interested in prosecuting parents of school children than prosecuting violet criminals in our cities and a flood of illegals across our southern border.

Think of where we were before that first year of the Biden administration. Inflation was at 2%. The economy was growing, and jobs were plentiful. We were able to export energy rather than depend on supplies from autocratic and dangerous countries. Our energy independence gave us affordable food and gas supplies. We were wrestling with the COVID-19 crisis, but the president had ordered warp-speed development of vaccines which were becoming widely available. A wall was under construction on our southern border, and immigration had been largely regularized.

Other than the virus, most Americans were quite comfortable with the state of the nation.

However, many Americans were uncomfortable with the daily deluge of tweets coming from the Trump White House that led to constant political warfare. As a candidate, former President Donald Trump had used tweets effectively to dominate the news cycles and keep his opponents answering him rather than pursuing their own agendas. He continued the practice in the White House. While the Trump support base loved his fighting spirit exemplified by the tweets, and they turned out in huge numbers for his rallies, the hostile national atmosphere created was seen by others as divisive and unpresidential. 

From the outset of the Trump presidency, the left hated him and considered him an interloper. Their plan had been for Hillary Clinton to be a third term of the Obama administration and make permanent the policies put in place by former President Barack Obama. The Clinton loss was a total shock. The left and their media allies had helped promote Mr. Trump in the primary season thinking he would be the easiest for Mrs. Clinton to beat. Morning Joe had Trump on-air almost every day, mostly by telephone, interviewing him about his latest tweet.

But instead of a patsy, the left got a populist champion. Then they got a president who not only set about going in a new direction but confronted them at every turn. They concluded that they had to destroy Mr. Trump and they used their political resources in Congress and friends in government agencies to pursue lies and misrepresentations they created.

Mr. Trump fought back. He used Twitter to great effect, as he had done in his campaign. Because the president himself was tweeting an opinion nearly every morning, it garnered headlines that dominated most news cycles.

But for many Americans, the confrontation was upsetting. I don’t know how many times I had someone say to me, “I like the president’s policies, but I can’t stand his tweets.”

By 2020, large numbers of people had convinced themselves that Mr. Biden would keep the nation going in the same direction but without the daily confrontation. They were wrong. They got tricked. The whole country is now suffering from ineffective leadership, taking us down policy paths we never intended to traverse. We are faced not only with inflation but with bad actors in the world who are now willing to challenge the United States and its allies in all sorts of perverse ways.

Trick or tweet? The tweets look a lot more acceptable now. 

• Robert Smith Walker is a former American politician who represented Pennsylvania in the United States House of Representatives as a Republican from 1977 until his retirement in 1997.

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