An alien who landed in Washington today might be forgiven for assuming the president is a highly successful leader, wildly popular with the public. But then someone would have to patiently explain, “Let me tell you about Donald Trump …”
Opponents accuse Trump of trading in misogyny, racism, mendacity, crassness and chaos, as painfully documented by authors Michael Wolff and Bob Woodward. They also contend that the policy wins listed above are hollow. An economy built on Barack Obama’s foundations, tax cuts that favour the rich, mounting national debt; a supreme court nominee rammed through in a show of contempt for women; a love-in with North Korea’s dictator; self-destructive trade wars and a surrender of global leadership.
Nevertheless, like Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher, Trump has already passed the test of making himself consequential and handing his conservative supporters a narrative. Liberal-baiting cheerleaders include White House counsel Kellyanne Conway, press secretary Sarah Sanders and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, the author of books such as Understanding Trump and Trump’s America: The Truth about Our Nation’s Great Comeback.
“I think by any reasonable standard it’s been amazing,” Gingrich told the Guardian, pointing to bigger economic growth, bigger deregulation and more federal court appointments than he said anyone thought possible two years ago.
“He now dominates his party more decisively than anyone in modern times on the Republican side, which would not have seemed plausible two years ago. He’s got to fight a very hard-fought midterm election but he has a lot of pluses on his side right now.”
In July, even Gingrich spoke out against Trump’s performance in Helsinki, when he appeared to take Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s word about election interference at the expense of his own intelligence agencies.
But the Republican elder continued, “Trump is an 80% historic figure and 20% the product of reality TV. That’s who he is; he’s not going to change.
“But he is stunningly effective. You have to say to yourself, ‘He may not be perfect but boy, does he get a lot done.’ At the rate he’s currently going, he will be one of the most consequential American presidents. He will certainly be in a league with people like Andrew Jackson or FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt].”
Gingrich is confident Trump will win again in 2020.
“Unless something terrible happens to the economy, he’ll be re-elected. Anybody who watched him take apart 16 Republicans and Hillary Clinton and the elite media should ask themselves, ‘What will Trump be like as candidate when he has all the advantages of the presidency and he only has to beat one Democrat?’ I suspect he will be pretty impressive.”
The former speaker blames Trump’s deep, visceral unpopularity on the media and the left.
“If you look at the level of dishonesty in the New York Times or CNN, he’s virtually compelled. He’s in a war with them. They are the other team. They don’t even pretend to be neutral. The day after the inaugural there was a mass rally of leftwingers in which Madonna said she dreams of the White House being bombed.”
Madonna later clarified that her remark at the women’s march about having “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House” was a metaphor.
Gingrich concluded: “Trump is the natural articulator of the conservative part of American society and he arouses hostility from the left but that’s also why he has such strong support on the right. We have a president willing to actually stand up for our values. That’s why getting [Judge Brett] Kavanaugh approved was so important. Trump is reshaping the courts at remarkable rates and he’s doing so from the standpoint of conservatives who believe in the American constitution.”
Measured by the laws of the Trump universe, his presidency is indeed a success, reinforced daily by praise singers on conservative media and rooms full of applause and “promises made, promises kept” banners. Anthony Scaramucci, who spent an ill-fated 11 days at the White House last year as communications director, has written a book lionising the president.
“Unfortunately the American press hates this guy so much that he could resurrect people and it’s not going to be enough for them,” said Scaramucci, speaking by phone on Friday from Detroit, where he was about to preach the Trump gospel to university students. “If he was Barack Obama or any other person other than Donald Trump they would have to capitulate and say this guy’s done an unbelievable job.
“He’s going to have transformed the supreme court. He will have right-sized the trade deals to make them fairer for the American worker. He will have ended the nonsense at the border. He will have created peace in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. He will have right-sized the trade relationship with China and ended the Iranian theocracy. I don’t know, I guess he sucks! If he was anybody else he’d have a 75% approval rating right now.”