by Conrad Black
It is easier to notice the drift of American political public opinion after being away from it in England for six weeks. It is obvious that President Trump is steadily gaining ground. The human wave of kooks and retreads seeking the Democratic nomination have been shooting furiously inside their 360-degree firing squad and some of the 1 percent group will have to be carried out soon to make it a tighter circle. (The most irritating loudmouth of all of them, Representative Eric Swalwell of California, had the honor of being the first to fold on Monday.)
The Democrats’ major problems are that almost all the president’s policies are working. The collapse of the Russian collusion fraud has created an eerie silence as the country awaits possible indictments of the Democrats responsible for that outrage, and the Democrats themselves are completely unfeasible.
All the economic news is positive: 83 percent of taxpayers have had their taxes reduced and those who have not are the citizens of chronic Democratic states where the state governments have been so incompetent they have laid on higher state income taxes that the administration no longer will deduct from federal taxes. Why should the residents of other states pay for the profligacy and incompetence of the Andrew Cuomos and Jerry Browns of the big blue states? One hundred percent of taxpayers in states where Trump has a reasonable chance to win have lower taxes. There are now more than 1.5 million additional Americans jobs to be filled than there are unemployed people.
Just six weeks ago, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) was promising a blizzard of subpoenas to “get to the bottom of” what Special Counsel Robert Mueller and others had spent years investigating. (If Mueller testifies before Nadler’s committee, it will be the greatest administration self-inflicted wound since the Nixon tapes.) Six weeks ago, there were still echoes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the crisis at the border was phony and manufactured as well as war-cries demanding the courts stop Trump’s construction of his southern border wall. While I was overseas, the House “reluctantly” approved the spending on the wall.
The frenzied attack on this presidency replaced the customary honeymoon, and the Republicans in Congress, almost as shell-shocked as the Democrats at the Trump victory, initially did nothing to assist the administration. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), 2008 presidential nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) all once abetted the Democrats, but the assault has now diminished to a pathetic little squeak about Trump’s suitability as president.
His opponents are now reduced to fluttering like ancient dowagers and complaining that he is too ungentlemanly and uncouth to be president. What might they have thought of Jackson, William H. Harrison, Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, Warren Harding, or Lyndon Johnson?
This is all the Democrats have left: snobbery, the moronic pretensions of a party whose leaders politicized the intelligence and national police agencies to try to undo an election, and many of whose contenders abuse public credulity by comparing resisting the will-o’-the-wisp of climate change with the invasion of Normandy (Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey), and announcing the scientific unanimity of certainty about imminent planet-threatening global warming (Beto O’Rourke or Texas).
The Democratic field is a teeming, heaving mass of back-biting mountebanks. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is not an American Indian, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has worn out his schtick, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a facile novelty, unqualified by any traditional criterion to be president. (I do not for these purposes consider his sexual orientation to be relevant.)
Most of the Democratic candidates are self-burdened with championship of open borders with the right to free health care for people illegally in the country, as well as their right to vote regardless of citizenship; entirely socialized medicine; more than a doubling of the maximum personal income tax rates; vast reparations to African-Americans and native people; a terroristic green policy; forgiveness of $1 trillion of student loans; and legalized infanticide—the post-birth extinction of the lives of fully born and separated children under unspecified conditions.
The Democrats have departed this planet as we know it; the forces of sanity and respect for that party’s history are clinging desperately to the water-logged raft of Joe Biden as he tacks to the left, scattering malapropisms like Casey Stengel on steroids. The former vice president looks like a refuge for the truly desperate. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has the greatest presence, physically and as a speaker, but she is the helpless carrier and spout of Californian faddish inanities. (She asked General James Mattis at his confirmation hearings as defense secretary what the Pentagon would do about climate change.)
This is all the Democrats are left with: a group of radical nonentities that constitute a monotone Götterdämmerung: the self-immolation not only of the America of Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney, but also of Bill Clinton and even of candidate Barack Obama.
Donald Trump’s systematic assault on post-Reagan bipartisan Washington has divided the country fairly closely between early subscribers and converts and horrified resisters. But the correlation of political forces has shifted steadily toward the president from his much-mocked campaign launch four years ago to the present and is now a well-established trajectory. The president has already announced that the federal government would withhold grants from universities that do not uphold freedom of speech on the campuses. The sanctuary cities will be next; the mayors of the nation’s largest cities ordering the police not to cooperate with national immigration laws. The decrepit bipartisan Washington that Trump attacked could only be purified and resurrected in stages. The Democrats are now almost irrelevant to this process.
The erosion of per capita GDP growth and of economic growth generally have been reversed, and for the first time in this century, the purchasing power of working and middle-class families is growing. The flatlined new normal of yesteryear will be hung around the necks of the Democrats like a toilet seat. The U.S. economy continues to grow at a little over 3 percent, and all the basic ingredients are in place for a continuation through the election. The stock market value increases, repatriation of large amounts of overseas corporate profit, and the replacement of foreign by local energy sources have all added an immense amount of demand for production and investment within the economy. The attempt to maintain an illicit flow of unskilled Democratic worker-voters and exploitees of avaricious Republican businessmen is failing almost as spectacularly as the largely illegal quest to find an impeachable offense. Trump’s approval rating has risen almost three points in the time of my absence, and even now, making no allowance for the anti-Trump biases of most polls is sufficient to reelect him.
Trump now commits few serious gaffes, providing lean times to the armies of media complainants about his verbal infelicities. He is a more fluent speaker and has more gravitas at the podium than many of his predecessors, including Presidents Ford, Carter, and both Bushes. His personal conduct has become very presentable without losing his talents as an entertaining and effective campaigner.
In the world, China, Iran, and North Korea will all have to give way under American economic pressure, and Trump will facilitate the revival of fair trade and nuclear nonproliferation by not trying to humiliate his interlocutors. He is not seeking regime change and is offering economic advantages and in the case of Korea, denuclearization of the whole peninsula. Patient and steady pressure, precisely what his opponents professed to believe him incapable of applying, will succeed where his post-Reagan predecessors were swindled and outmaneuvered by all three of these powers. The country supports every major point of his program. This is not clear in the polls because he is following Napoleon’s advice not to interrupt your enemy while he is in the act of making a mistake.
By Election Day 2020, the country will notice. Of course, the Democrats will nominate someone, but barring a disaster of Old Testament proportions, their nominee will not win.
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Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.