I am not going to pretend that the first week of the Trump presidency has not been a little bumpy.
News flash: This is what happens when outsiders take over.
But the collective freakout over everything President Trump or his team says or does is reaching unprecedented levels in modern history.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer unfortunately relayed false Metro ridership statistics on Saturday. That story was treated with collective hyperventilation, amid calls for his firing, his resignation and perhaps his public hanging.
Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed this week as Mr. Spicer has been poised, smart and well-prepared to handle all manner of detailed questions thrown his way during what remains a chaotic new presidency.
I have known Mr. Spicer for a decade. He’s a good and decent person, who served our country in the Navy Reserve, as assistant U.S. trade representative, in senior roles on Capitol Hill and over six years at the Republican National Committee. He will do an excellent job as Mr. Trump’s spokesman.
If the new administration appears somewhat unprepared, perhaps it is because on Inauguration Day only two of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet members — Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly — had been confirmed by the Senate. By comparison, eight years ago President Obama had seven Cabinet secretaries in place by the end of his first day.
This week Mr. Trump got two more nominees confirmed, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who was needlessly delayed three days over the weekend, and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, who was overwhelmingly confirmed. I would hope that we can all agree that it is exceedingly difficult to run the federal government without people leading the federal agencies that make up the government.
Nevertheless, in his first days in office, Mr. Trump is methodically carrying out the promises he made as a candidate, mostly through issuing, and soon also through rescinding, executive orders. Perhaps the arrogant Obama administration finally regrets governing almost solely through executive orders that can be so easily wiped off the books.
Democrats are howling about an executive order that ends U.S. taxpayer funding for abortions overseas, widely known as the “Mexico City policy.” That view has been in the political mainstream for decades.
Mr. Trump gave agencies flexibility within Obamacare to reduce its harm to the economy, as it will be fully repealed by the end of February and the replacement plan ready by the end of March.
On Tuesday, President Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a move which in my view strengthens China economically, but it was a promise he made and it’s a promise he kept. He also now wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the free trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
A day later, Mr. Trump announced he would defund “sanctuary cities” — those jurisdictions around the country that are flagrantly defying federal immigration laws, a move that shouldn’t even be controversial. Releasing criminals back into communities, by ignoring detainer requests issued by federal judges, makes no sense whatsoever and recklessly endangers the public. The days of refusing to enforce the law with no consequences are over.
The new president also is altering refugee policy from countries where no legitimate vetting process exists, as top Obama administration officials testified under oath late last year. I do not believe this will be permanent policy, and we want our country to be generous and compassionate, but Islamic State has openly said it wants to infiltrate its operatives into the U.S. Don’t we need stronger vetting?
Finally, Mr. Trump is moving forward with the Mexico border wall, with planning starting now and building beginning “in months.” I suspect this will ultimately be a complete border wall in urban areas, and layered fencing and virtual security in rural areas, but the southern border is not secure and anyone who claims that it is has never been there.
Mr. Trump made certain promises as a candidate and he is following through in a methodical way. I do not agree with everything he says or does, but the voters knew he would do these things if he won, and as a helpful reminder he won 33 states and 306 electoral votes.
Before rushing to judgment, can’t we all simply just wait a few months and see what the results of these policies are?
• Matt Mackowiak is the president of Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran, and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. He is the host of a new national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” produced in partnership with The Washington Times. His podcast may be found at washingtontimes.com/mackonpolitics.
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