From time to time recently, people have asked me if I have second thoughts about this post from a few months ago. I was a tiny bit more critical than normal, but in my defense, I have no sense of humor on the gun issue. There are certain issues that draw a bright line between the chosen and the damned. Guns are one of them. There’s no “sort of getting it right” or “only being a bit wrong.” You either get it or you don’t and I still don’t think Trump gets it, but he has shut up about it. He went to the NRA convention, so I’ll give him a pass.
That said, I’m still waiting for Trump to deliver on the stuff that is important to me. Despite the bold talk on immigration, he has so far been an economic populist, rather than a national populist. His best work has been on trade, where he has gotten tough on China and re-opened the NAFTA deal. He’s also dismantled the climate change apparatus inside the Department of Energy and cut a ton of regulations. These are all good things and in another age, I’d probably be over the moon. But, it is not another age. It is now.
Despite making lots of noise on the issue, nothing much has changed on the immigration front. The wall is no closer to reality than it was two years ago. The number of guest worker visas has increased, rather than decreased. The DACA issue is still out there, as Trump now waits on the states to solve the problem for him. He put a complete dunce in as secretary of DHS, making things worst on that front, rather than better. Worse yet, that perfidious weasel Paul Ryan is quietly trying to sneak an amnesty through the House.
In fairness, the immigration issue is not an easy puzzle to solve. No reasonable person should have expected sweeping reform in the first two years of his presidency. The fact is, a third of the GOP is bought and paid for by the open borders lobbies. Another third are so utterly clueless on the issue, they don’t know where to start, even if they wanted to push the issue. Still, Trump has been outfoxed and outworked by his opponents on immigration. He seems to like talking about immigration more than doing anything about it.
All that said, he has a lot of time to make things right and he has shown an extremly rare ability to address his own errors. The gun issue is a good example. He was making all of the usual mistakes on guns, then he wised up and reversed course. Most politicians are the opposite of a fine wine. They get worse with age. Because he is not an ideologue, Trump learns from his mistakes and adjusts. Maybe on the immigration front we see the same sort of growth we saw on guns. There’s still time to get a lot done.
The bigger issue though, the thing now looming over his entire presidency, is the wide ranging conspiracy engineered by senior elements of the intelligence community. A few months ago it looked like a handful of radicalized mid-level bureaucrats. What’s becoming clear is this was a conspiracy hatched by the men at the top of the intelligence community, with help from the White House, to not only help Hillary Clinton, but engineer a coup after the election to get rid of Trump. This reality has to color any assessment of Trump.
Think about the stones it takes to face off against the intel community. They literally know all of your secrets. In the case of Trump, they have the secrets of his friends, family and business associates. Even if they can’t ruin him, they can ruin people he knows. It was 18 months ago that Chuck Schumer warned Trump about doing this. When Schumer said, “Intel officials ‘have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you'” he was not being flippant or rhetorical. We now know the intel community has been at this for a while.
It’s not just the fact that the intel community has the capacity to spy on everyone and appears to be spying on everyone. It’s that these are vicious, craven people lacking a moral compass. It’s ironic that James Comey was fond of accusing his people of lacking a moral compass, when it is now clear the guy is a sociopath incapable of knowing right from wrong. Clapper and Brennan have no scruples whatsoever. There’s also the fact that on the CIA side, they still have guys who kill people on behalf of the American deep state.
Now, we can’t know how much Trump knows, or how much much he knew back in the campaign about the spying. It is entirely possible that honest people had told him what was happening long ago. We do know Mike Rogers went to Trump Tower after the election and warned Trump about this operation. Once in office, Trump would have been briefed on a lot of things related to this. Even if he thought it was just a handful of crackpots in the FBI, it took mighty big stones to take the issue head on.
One of the funny things about these times is they are entirely unexpected. Back when Trump came down the escalator and started talking like Pat Buchanan, I recall thinking, “I can’t imagine a scenario where I vote for him, but I never imagined anyone saying these things again either.” Trump is turning out to be the most consequential president in our lifetime, which is not something any sane person could have imagined two years ago. I think we have to withhold judgement on him until these great events of this age unfold.