Saturday, April 1, 2017

True Perspectives, April 18. Discussing Consolidation! Farkas Walks Back. The Roller Coaster Ride Continues.


First True Perspective of The New Year on April 18,
at 4:30 - 6 PM, at Plantation. Ron Stevens presenter
Dean of Chatham County Delegation.
He will discuss pros and cons of Consolidation.
Urge you attend.
Is everything "ducky" in Russia? (See 1 below.)
Progressive elitism comes at a pernicious/hidden cost and sweeping reality under the rug never works.. (See 2 and 2a below.)
Evelyn Farkas walked back her recent comments regarding Obama tapping into Trump and his administration.

I am always amazed when educated, well paid government officials say something then reverse course.  You would think they should be articulate enough to make themselves clear the first time they respond to a question. Or perhaps, lying is part of their DNA and thus qualifies them to work in government in the first place.
An article written by a friend of my son about one man's view of what is happening on American College and University Campuses today and why.  (See 3 below.)
I proposed Trump's election would result in a political roller coaster ride and I believe my thinking has proven to be the case.  I do not see it changing but I do see him learning and destructive resistance by Democrats waning. This should result in smoothing out the ride.

In all fairness to Trump, Obama left the nation in such a mess even Hillary would not have been able to do much better except for the fact the Demwits and mass media would have been on her side making excuses and paving the way  etc.

The article by Peggy Noonan is interesting.  (I sought her out, through a dear friend, as a speaker for next year but she is going to be in China .  Perhaps she will come in 2019.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.) (See 4 below.)

The Dow is up 12.7% since Trump became president and The Consumer Confidence Index is up to 93%.  These are metrics which are somewhat predictive so obviously people are encouraged that the future will be brighter.  If Trump and the Republicans are unable to reform the tax code and some other expected legislation then I suspect the rally we have enjoyed will fade.

The Fed is happy inflation is not slightly above 2% and they have indicated they will hike interest rates two more times this year and then take a wait and see posture.

I learned a long time ago the Fed has seldom if ever made a soft landing. Something unexpected always goes wrong so I have little confidence The Fed will unwind from their enormous portfolio without causing major disruptions of some kind.  Time will tell.

Meanwhile, Trump is struggling with a wing of his party, working with Democrats and realizing tweeting is lowering confidence people have in his judgement. I doubt the mass media are going to change their attitude towards him and certainly government is leaking like a breached dam.

Optimism is ephemeral and can turn on a dime.

Russia: Rubber Ducks and Green Paint

For all the hyperbole in Washington about Russian hacking, Russian disinformation, Russian influence, and Russian espionage, the really remarkable events in Russia over the weekend appear barely to have registered.
One hundred years after the assassination of the last Czar, and two-and-a-half decades after the fall of the communist regime, Russian people have taken to the streets.

In early March, anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny posted a report on YouTube detailing the corruption of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. After more than 13 million views in roughly three weeks, people, including a large number of teenagers, answered Navalny's call for public protest. They flooded the streets of 95 Russian cities, as well as London, Prague, Basel, and Bonn. Many carried rubber ducks -- or real ducks -- referring to reports of a luxury duck farm on one of Medvedev's properties.

Navalny is now in jail.

Depending on the source, 7,000-8,000 (Russia's Interior Ministry) or 25,000-30,000 (Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation) people turned out in Moscow, and hundreds -- or thousands -- were arrested. The Anti-Corruption Foundation claims there were more than 150,000 protesters across the country.

Navalny himself was doused with bright green dye by an opponent in an eerie parallel to the poisoning that disfigured the face of Ukrainian politician Victor Yushchenko. Navalny's supporters, in solidarity, have taken to green face paint.

These courageous protests may call to mind the 2015 "Sunflower" movement in Taiwan or the "Umbrella" movement in Hong Kong. The former opposed Taiwanese trade with China, a plan that could have made the island dependent on the mainland for its economic future. The latter demanded the "full autonomy," promised by Britain and agreed to by China, when the British departed in 1999. Both were notable for the number of students in the forefront. The protests also call to mind the Arab Spring demonstrations of 2011, grounded in the belief by Arab citizens that their governments were hopelessly corrupt; also Iran's massive 2009 Green Movement protests, in which citizens believed the government had conducted a fraudulent election.
For the Trump administration, this moment is immensely important.

How the United States responds to these protests abroad can determine not only the future of those protesting, but also the future of the governments that find themselves under pressure.

Taiwan, a fully functioning democracy, saw a change of government in its latest election. Hong Kong's change of government, however, was fully controlled by Beijing. The Arab Spring opened the way for power vacuums that allowed the rise of ISIS and al Qaeda. And Iran's government smashed the nascent rebellion so thoroughly that no large-scale protest has been able to take place there since.

It has been said that Vladimir Putin personally has a high favorability ratings in Russia because he restored predictability and stability after the turbulent Gorbachev-through-Yeltsin period and because he is a nationalist. Corruption, however, is endemic -- and Putin has been ruthless in wiping out politicians and journalists who poke too closely into it.

Putin critic and lawmaker Denis Voronenkov (2017), Boris Nemtsov (2015), human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov (2009), journalists Anastasia Baburova (2009) Natalia Estemirova (2009), Anna Politkovskaya (2005) and Paul Klebnikov (2004), and politician Sergei Yushenkov (2003) were all shot. Boris Berezovsky (2013) died after falling out with Putin; the cause of his death has not yet been established. Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in 2006. The lawyer Sergei Magnitsky (2009) died in police custody. Last week, his family's lawyer, Nicolai Gorokhov, was said to have fallen out of a fourth floor window "while installing a hot tub."

Vladimir Kara-Murza, leader of the Russian political opposition, directly accused the Kremlin of assassinating political enemies. Earlier this month, Kara-Murza was in a life-threatening coma with elevated levels of heavy metal in his blood; it was the second time he was poisoned. Partially recovered now and not in Russia, Kara-Murza called it retaliation for his work with American lawmakers on the Magnitsky Act, designed to prevent human rights abusers in Russia from keeping their wealth in Western countries.

Perhaps Navalny's call to the public is grounded in the understanding that, one by one, brave people can be eliminated, but thousands at a time in the streets are harder to target. The outpouring of support by young people who have never known any government other than that of Putin or Medvedev is an indication of how deeply they understand.

The usual method of tamping down widespread unhappiness is with money. But the Russian economy has been in a recession for two years, in part due to the decline in oil prices, and its "rainy day" fund has declined from $91.7 billion in September 2014 to $32.2 billion two years later, according to the Russian Finance Ministry. Defense spending is slated to drop by 27% in the draft 2017 budget.

On the nationalist side, the Russian public historically does not like losing soldiers in foreign wars -- think "Afghanistan." Losses in Ukraine, never officially enumerated by the Russian government, were accepted grudgingly as part of the price for restoring Crimea. But casualties in Syria cannot be dealt with so easily. The number remains small -- according official counts just over 100, including both soldiers and military contractors -- but there seems to be widespread unease. More than a few (small) anti-war demonstrations have been seen in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The public is aware of the scale of Russian and Syrian bombing and the resulting casualties of a war that are not understood to be of importance in the homeland. They may be important to us -- and to the Russian government, but the Russian people have never liked wars unrelated to Russian territory. That is why they can be proud of Stalingrad, but balk at Afghanistan.

Russia seeks superpower status in the Middle East and Europe, but real superpower status has always required the ability to shoulder burdens abroad without fear of upheaval at home. World War II is a clear example of American success, but when the domestic situation was turbulent in the late 1960s, the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam and spent decades restoring its international credibility. A shaky domestic situation in Russia may force Putin to consider spending more resources at home than abroad.

Ignoring the Green Movement in Iran was a missed opportunity for the West and a tragedy for the people of Iran. It is not America's job to create or foment unrest in Russia or anywhere else. But it is in the interest of the West to support and hearten those who have the courage to take on a corrupt and aggressive government. President Trump can take a page from Ronald Reagan, who spoke out for the rights of the people, especially Soviet refuseniks, even as he worked to negotiate arms-control with Gorbachev.
If we ignore the rubber ducks and green paint, it will be at our peril.
DC’s Idiotic New Daycare Rule
By Darrick Johnson |
If you want a concrete demonstration of how progressivism hurts working Americans, look no further than DC’s new child care  rule, requiring workers to have a college degree.

While the proponents claim the rule puts them “ahead of the curve” of child care policy, its an unbelievably destructive approach.

First, it’s terribly punitive to non-college educated workers, who may have years of experience in child care, but now have to obtain an expensive degree by 2020 in order to keep their job.  Child care is important work, and its not easy, but it has also been a place where less affluent people, with less formal education, could find work. Washington is running them out of a job.
Second, it's going to create incredibly high prices for child care.  For single moms who have no other options, shrinking the labor pool for child care (and burdening those workers who stay with expensive student loans) is making an already painful expense much worse.  Monthly child care costs in the District average $1,800/month, and this will only further inflate prices.
This is how a country like Venezuela, with loads of natural resources ends up with mass poverty.  The unbridled arrogance of central planners ruins everything.

2a)Obama Tried to Make Nice With Rebellious Students. It Backfired Miserably.
By Walter Williams

Nationally, black junior high and high school students are suspended at a rate more than three times as often as their white peers, twice as often as their Latino peers, and more than 10 times as often as their Asian peers.
According to former Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the “huge disparity is not caused by differences in children; it’s caused by differences in training, professional development, and discipline policies. It is adult behavior that needs to change.”
In other words, the Education Department sees no difference between the behavior of black students and white, Latino, and Asian students. It’s just that black students are singled out for discriminatory discipline.
Driven by Obama administration pressures, school districts revised their discipline procedures by cutting the number of black student suspensions.

Max Eden, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has written a report, “School Discipline Reform and Disorder: Evidence from New York City Public Schools, 2012-16.”
The new discipline imposed on public schools is called restorative justice. Rather than punish a student through exclusion (suspension), restorative justice encourages the student who has misbehaved to reflect on his behavior, take responsibility, and resolve to behave better in the future.
The results of this new policy are increased violence, drug use, and gang activity.
Eden examines the NYC School Survey of teachers and students and finds that violence increased in 50 percent of schools and decreased in 14 percent. Gang activity increased in 39 percent of schools and decreased in 11 percent.
For drug and alcohol use, there was a 37 percent increase while only 7 percent of schools improved.
It’s not just New York City where discipline is worse under the Obama administration’s policy. Eden reports:
One Chicago teacher told the Chicago Tribune that her district’s new discipline policy led to “a totally lawless few months” at her school. One Denver teacher told Chalkbeat that, under the new discipline policy, students had threatened to harm or kill teachers, “with no meaningful consequences.” … After Oklahoma City Public Schools revised its discipline policies in response to federal pressure, one teacher told the Oklahoman that “[w]e were told that referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood.”
Eden reports that in Oklahoma City a teacher said that:
Students are yelling, cursing, hitting, and screaming at teachers and nothing is being done but teachers are being told to teach and ignore the behaviors. These students know there is nothing a teacher can do. Good students are now suffering because of the abuse and issues plaguing these classrooms.
In Buffalo, a teacher who was kicked in the head by a student said: “We have fights here almost every day. The kids walk around and say, ‘We can’t get suspended—we don’t care what you say.’”
Ramsey County attorney John Choi of St. Paul, Minnesota, described how the number of assaults against teachers doubled from 2014 to 2015 and called the situation a “public health crisis.”
Testifying before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a former Philadelphia teacher said that a student told him, “I’m going to torture you. I’m doing this because I can’t be removed.” Eden’s report cites similar school horror stories in other cities.
Since most of the school violence and discipline problems rest with black students, there are a few questions that black parents, politicians, academics, and civil rights advocates should ponder.
Is academic achievement among blacks so high that black people can afford to allow miscreants and thugs to sabotage the education process?
For those pushing the Obama administration’s harebrained restorative justice policy, can blacks afford for anything to interfere with the acquisition of academic excellence?
Finally, how does the Obama restorative justice policy differ from a Ku Klux Klan policy that would seek to sabotage black education by making it impossible for schools to rid themselves of students who make education impossible for everyone else?

Jonathan Haidt on the Cultural Roots of Campus Rage

By Bari Weiss

An unorthodox professor explains the ‘new religion’ that drives the intolerance and violence at places like Middlebury and Berkeley.

When a mob at Vermont’s Middlebury College shut down a speech by social scientist Charles Murray a few weeks ago, most of us saw it as another instance of campus illiberalism. Jonathan Haidt saw something more—a ritual carried out by adherents of what he calls a “new religion,” an auto-da-fé against a heretic for a violation of orthodoxy.
“The great majority of college students want to learn. They’re perfectly reasonable, and they’re uncomfortable with a lot of what’s going on,” Mr. Haidt, a psychologist and professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business, tells me during a recent visit to his office. “But on each campus there are some true believers who have reoriented their lives around the fight against evil.”
These believers are transforming the campus from a citadel of intellectual freedom into a holy space—where white privilege has replaced original sin, the transgressions of class and race and gender are confessed not to priests but to “the community,” victim groups are worshiped like gods, and the sinned-against are supplicated with “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”
The fundamentalists may be few, Mr. Haidt says, but they are “very intimidating” since they wield the threat of public shame. On some campuses, “they’ve been given the heckler’s veto, and are often granted it by an administration who won’t stand up to them either.”
All this has become something of a preoccupation for the 53-year-old Mr. Haidt. A longtime liberal—he ran a gun-control group as an undergraduate at Yale—he admits he “had never encountered conservative ideas” until his mid-40s. The research into moral psychology that became his 2012 book, “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,” exposed him to other ways of seeing the world; he now calls himself a centrist.
In 2015 he founded Heterodox Academy, which describes itself as “a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars” concerned about “the loss or lack of ‘viewpoint diversity’ ” on campuses. As Mr. Haidt puts it to me: “When a system loses all its diversity, weird things begin to happen.”
Having studied religions across cultures and classes, Mr. Haidt says it is entirely natural for humans to create “quasireligious” experiences out of seemingly secular activities. Take sports. We wear particular colors, gather as a tribe, and cheer for our team. Even atheists sometimes pray for the Steelers to beat the Patriots.
It’s all “fun and generally harmless,” maybe even healthy, Mr. Haidt says, until it tips into violence—as in British soccer hooliganism. “What we’re beginning to see now at Berkeley and at Middlebury hints that this [campus] religion has the potential to turn violent,” Mr. Haidt says. “The attack on the professor at Middlebury really frightened people,” he adds, referring to political scientist Allison Stanger, who wound up in a neck brace after protesters assaulted her as she left the venue.
The Berkeley episode Mr. Haidt mentions illustrates the Orwellian aspect of campus orthodoxy. A scheduled February appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos prompted masked agitators to throw Molotov cocktails, smash windows, hurl rocks at police, and ultimately cause $100,000 worth of damage. The student newspaper ran an op-ed justifying the rioting under the headline “Violence helped ensure safety of students.” Read that twice.
Mr. Haidt can explain. Students like the op-ed author “are armed with a set of concepts and words that do not mean what you think they mean,” he says. “People older than 30 think that ‘violence’ generally involves some sort of physical threat or harm. But as students are using the word today, ‘violence’ is words that have a negative effect on members of the sacred victim groups. And so even silence can be violence.” It follows that if offensive speech is “violence,” then actual violence can be a form of self-defense.
Down the hall from Mr. Haidt’s office, I noticed a poster advertising a “bias response hotline” students can call “to report an experience of bias, discrimination or harassment.” I joke that NYU seems to have its own version of the morality police in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia. “It’s like East Germany,” Mr. Haidt replies—with students, at least some of them, playing the part of the Stasi.
How did we get here, and what can be done? On the first question, Mr. Haidt points to a braided set of causes. There’s the rise in political polarization, which is related to the relatively recent “political purification of the universities.” While the academy has leaned left since at least the 1920s, Mr. Haidt says “it was always just a lean.” Beginning in the early 1990s, as the professors of the Greatest Generation retired, it became a full-on tilt.
“Now there are no more conservative voices on the faculty or administration,” he says, exaggerating only a little. Heterodox Academy cites research showing that the ratio of left to right professors in 1995 was 2 to 1. Now it is 5 to 1.
The left, meanwhile, has undergone an ideological transformation. A generation ago, social justice was understood as equality of treatment and opportunity: “If gay people don’t have the right to marry and you organize a protest to apply pressure to get them that right, that’s justice,” Mr. Haidt says. “If black people are getting discriminated against in hiring and you fight that, that’s justice.”
Today justice means equal outcomes. “There are two ideas now in the academic left that weren’t there 10 years ago,” he says. “One is that everyone is racist because of unconscious bias, and the other is that everything is racist because of systemic racism.” That makes justice impossible to achieve: “When you cross that line into insisting if there’s not equal outcomes then some people and some institutions and some systems are racist, sexist, then you’re setting yourself up for eternal conflict and injustice.”
Perhaps most troubling, Mr. Haidt cites the new protectiveness in child-rearing over the past few decades. Historically, American children were left to their own devices and had to learn to deal with bullies. Today’s parents, out of compassion, handle it for them. “By the time students get to college they have much, much less experience with unpleasant social encounters, or even being insulted, excluded or marginalized,” Mr. Haidt says. “They expect there will be some adult, some authority, to rectify things.”
Combine that with the universities’ shift to a “customer is always right” mind-set. Add in social media. Suddenly it’s “very, very easy to bring mobs together,” Mr. Haidt says, and make “people very afraid to stand out or stand up for what they think is right.” Students and professors know, he adds, that “if you step out of line at all, you will be called a racist, sexist or homophobe. In fact it’s gotten so bad out there that there’s a new term—‘ophobophobia,’ which is the fear of being called x-ophobic.”
That fear runs deep—including in Mr. Haidt. When I ask him about how political homogeneity on campus informs the understanding of so-called rape culture, he clams up: “I can’t talk about that.” The topic of sexual assault—along with Islam—is too sensitive.
It’s a painfully ironic answer from a man dedicating his career to free thought and speech. But choosing his battles doesn’t mean Mr. Haidt is unwilling to fight. And he’s finding allies across the political spectrum.
Heterodox Academy’s membership has grown to some 600, up about 100 since the beginning of March. “In the wake of the Middlebury protests and violence, we’re seeing a lot of liberal-left professors standing up against illiberal-left professors and students,” Mr. Haidt says. Less than a fifth of the organization’s members identify as “right/conservative”; most are centrists, liberals or progressives.
Balancing those numbers by giving academic jobs and tenure to outspoken libertarians and conservatives seems like the most effective way to change the campus culture, if only by signaling to self-censoring students that dissent is acceptable. But for now Heterodox Academy is taking a more modest approach, focusing on three initiatives.
The first is its college guide: a ranking by viewpoint diversity of America’s top 150 campuses. The goal is to create market pressure and put administrators on notice. The University of Chicago currently ranks No. 1—rising seniors, take note.
The second is a “fearless speech index,” a web-based questionnaire that allows students and professors to express how comfortable they feel speaking out on sensitive subjects. Right now, Mr. Haidt says, there are a tremendous number of anecdotes but no real data; the index aims to remedy that.
The third is the “viewpoint diversity experience,” a six-step online lesson in the virtue and practice of open-minded engagement with opposing ideas.
Heterodox Academy is not the only sliver of light. Following the Middlebury incident, the unlikely duo of Democratic Socialist Cornel West and conservative Robert P. George published a statement denouncing “campus illiberalism” and calling for “truth seeking, democracy and freedom of thought and expression.” More than 2,500 scholars and other intellectuals have signed it. At Northwestern the student government became the first in the country to pass a resolution calling for academic freedom and viewpoint diversity.
“What I think is happening,” Mr. Haidt says, is that “as the visible absurdity on campus mounts and mounts, and as public opinion turns more strongly against universities—and especially as the line of violence is crossed—we are having more and more people standing up saying, ‘Enough is enough. I’m opposed to this.’ ” Let’s hope.
If you’re not a student or professor, why should you care about snowflakes in their igloos? Because, Mr. Haidt argues, what happens on campus affects the “health of our nation.” Ideological and political homogeneity endangers the quality of social-science research, which informs public policy. “Understanding the impacts of immigration, understanding the causes of poverty—these are all absolutely vital,” he says. “If there’s an atmosphere of intimidation around politicized issues, it clearly influences the research.”
Today’s college students also are tomorrow’s leaders—and employees. Companies are already encountering problems with recent graduates unprepared for the challenges of the workplace. “Work requires a certain amount of toughness,” Mr. Haidt says. “Colleges that prepare students to expect a frictionless environment where there are bureaucratic procedures and adult authorities to rectify conflict are very poorly prepared for the workplace. So we can expect a lot more litigation in the coming few years.”
If you lean left—even if you adhere to the campus orthodoxy, or to certain elements of it—you might consider how the failure to respect pluralism puts your own convictions at risk of a backlash. “People are sick and tired of being called racist for innocent things they’ve said or done,” Mr. Haidt observes. “The response to being called a racist unfairly is never to say, ‘Gee, what did I do that led to me being called this? I should be more careful.’ The response is almost always, ‘[Expletive] you!’ ”
He offers this real-world example: “I think that the ‘deplorables’ comment could well have changed the course of human history.”
Ms. Weiss is an associate book review editor at the Journal.
4)Mistakes, He’s Made a Few Too Many

Crisis will inevitably strike, so America needs stability and strength. Will Trump be ready?

By Peggy Noonan

Near the end of the campaign I wrote a column called “Imagine a Sane Donald Trump,” lamenting that I believed he was crazy, and too bad. Too bad because his broad policy assertions, or impulses, suggested he understood that 2008 and the years just after (the crash and the weak recovery) had changed everything in America, and that the country was going to choose, in coming decades, one of two paths—a moderate populism or socialism—and that the former was vastly to be preferred, for reasons of the nation’s health. A gifted politician could make his party the leader toward that path, which includes being supportive and encouraging of business but willing to harness government to alleviate the distress of the abandoned working class and the anxious middle class; strong on defense but neither aggressive nor dreamy in world affairs; realistic and nonradical on social issues while unmistakably committed to protecting the freedoms of the greatest cohering force in America, its churches; and aware that our nation’s immigration reality was a scandal created by both parties, and must be redressed.
You could discern, listening to his interviews and speeches, that this was more or less where Donald Trump stood. If a politician governed along those lines, he could help bring forward a politics more pertinent to the times, end brain-dead fixations, force both parties to question their ways of operating, and possibly push our national politics in a more productive direction. All this in my view would be good.
Undergirding my thinking is the sense that a big bad day is coming—that we have too many enemies, and some of them have the talent to hurt us, and one or more inevitably will. Whatever helps hold us together now will help hold us together then, when we’re under severe pressure.

Behind that thought is the observation that our country is stressed to the point of fracture culturally, economically, politically, spiritually. We find it hard to hold together on a peaceful day, never mind a violent one. And so right now we must institute as much good feeling and cooperation in Washington as we can. The nation longs for examples of constructiveness and capability. We’ve got to keep the long view in mind
The priority is stabilizing and strengthening what we have, and encouraging wherever possible an atmosphere of peacefulness and respect.
That’s where I am, or rather what I think is politically desirable.
Looking at the administration 70 days in, things do not, in these areas, look promising. There’s too much gravitational pull to the president’s accumulated mistakes.
His stupid tweets have now resulted in the Russia probe. That will help opioid addicts in Ohio. This Thursday he may have launched a Republican civil war: The Freedom Caucus had better “get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & the Dems, in 2018!” That will help promote harmony. His staff has failed to absorb the obvious fact that Mr. Trump was so outsized, colorful, and freakish a character that their primary job, and an easy one it was, was to be the opposite—sober, low-key, reassuring. Instead they seemed to compete with him for outlandishness.
Whatever your feelings and views, whatever was said behind closed doors, in the photo-op the president of the United States must shake the German chancellor’s hand. Not only because you are a gentleman, not only because it is your job to represent America with grace, but because a baseline requirement of your office is to show public respect for a great nation with which we have a history, part of that history constituting a jewel in the crown of 20th-century world diplomacy.
It amazes me that in his dealings with the health-care bill Mr. Trump revealed that he has no deep knowledge of who his base is, who his people are. I’ve never seen that in politics. But Mr. Trump’s supporters didn’t like the bill. If they had wanted a Republican president who deals only with the right, to produce a rightist bill, they would have chosen Ted Cruz. Instead they chose someone outside conservatism who backed big-ticket spending on infrastructure and opposed cutting entitlements, which suggested he’d be working with Democrats, too.
A president dealing with a national issue that arouses anxieties has to take time and speak repeatedly on the plan and the goal, with the kind of specificity that encourages confidence. “You win the argument, then you win legislatively,” Newt Gingrich said in an interview this week, paraphrasing Margaret Thatcher.
And a president must always appear to be leading, not meekly tagging leaders within the Congress.
Seventy days is only 70 days. Mr. Trump’s supporters will give him time. During the campaign I spoke often to a friend in north Georgia, a Trump supporter who was a Democrat and voted for Barack Obama. She is unshaken. Mr. Trump is “making the kind of mistakes a new president makes,” she says now. “He’s having growing pains. Because he’s not a politician.”
He’s not. But he is the holder of the highest political office in the land, which requires some political discipline.
Whenever I used to have disagreements with passionate pro-Trump people, I’d hear their arguments, weigh their logic and grievances. I realized after a while that in every conversation we always brought different experiences to the table. I had worked in a White House. I had personally observed its deeper realities and requirements. Their sense of how a White House works came from news shows and reading, and also from TV shows such as “House of Cards” and “Scandal.” Those are dark, cynical shows that more or less suggest anyone can be president. I don’t mean that in the nice way. Those programs don’t convey how a White House is an organism demanding of true depth, of serious people, real professionals. A president has to be a serious person too, and not only an amusing or stimulating talker, or the object of a dream.
Robert Sherwood, the playwright who was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speechwriter throughout the war, saw him as subtle, high-minded, and one of the great “showmen” of presidential history. Sherwood’s biographer, Harriet Hyman Alonso, quotes Sherwood on how sometimes FDR spoke to him “as if he were an actor who had been reading my lines.” After a speech in Philadelphia, the president asked Sherwood if he thought the timing in a section of the speech was good. Sherwood called it perfect. Roosevelt then gave him “one of his sly looks and asked, ‘Do you think [Alfred] Lunt could have done it any better?’ ” Lunt was the great stage actor of the day.
That is the public part of the presidency, which we see so much now that we think it’s all there is. But there is a private presidency. It is in private that Mr. Trump does his tweeting. It is in private, in the office, that a crisis comes over the transom, and is announced by the national security adviser. Maybe the mad boy-king of North Korea will decide it’s a good day to see if his missiles can hit Los Angeles. Maybe a sleeper cell of terrorists will decide it’s a good day to show it’s woke.
Crisis reveals the character, the essential nature of a White House. Seventy days in, that is my worry.

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