My favorite columnist, WSJ’s Peggy Noonan, thus titled her recent column, which posed questions for Republican supporters. I will give some answers and comments.
Peggy starts off, “It is all so very grave, yet it feels only like a continuation of the past three years of fraught and crazy political conflict.” Amen! To my Democratic friends: You complain mightily about how damaging President Trump has been for the country, and I reply that three years of nonstop effort to get rid of him has been equally damaging. Every effort to solve domestic problems failed, while our country also faced serious external threats. Does fighting each other at home help our country — or our enemies?
Because Trump is personally obnoxious, you feel justified. But he was elected. I share your view that his combative conduct, tweets and speeches are deplorable; I continue weighing objectionable behavior against the tremendous value of getting the economy going again — jobs, improved income for so many: black, white, brown — not just the rich as some claim. Nor is Obama justified in claiming credit; he and current socialist candidates demonstrate little understanding of how free enterprise works. Freedom is absolutely essential to allow America’s creative people do the amazing things they do; big government squelches them, absorbs all the resources and uses them poorly.
Peggy: “When Mr. Trump first came in, I would press his supporters on putting all of American military power into the hands of a person with no direct political or foreign-affairs experience.” That’s been true of virtually every incoming president. “They’d say confidently, ‘But he’s got the generals around him. His gut would blend with their expertise.” I too worried about foreign policy, but Trump began talking to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in language that at least got him to stop pointing missiles in our direction. Peggy berates supporters of the president for not being more concerned that, one by one, the generals left or were fired. Believe me, I was very concerned! Going it alone without expert and informed advice is very risky.
Trump said while campaigning that he would be totally unpredictable in foreign policy — and he certainly has been! That has kept our enemies off-base; Trump used sanctions and tariffs to get the serious attention also of China, Iran and recently Turkey regarding their invasion of Syria. As one bully to another, it seems to work. Iran lost funds to support terrorists in the Middle East. China and the U.S. have come closer to agreement on trade. That needs to reach fruition, because world well-being depends on the two largest economies arriving at a working relationship.
Some of Trump’s actions have damaged the U.S. relationship with friendly countries. They and our state department find Impulsive actions difficult. “The president defeats all his friends.” Peggy quotes Gen. John Kelly, former chief of staff, telling President Trump “if he did not change his ways he would get himself in terrible trouble, ‘Whatever you do, don’t hire a yes-man, someone who won’t tell you the truth, because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.’”
Peggy: “The impeachment itself received a powerful push forward when the House voted for a new public phase in inquiry. The Democrats wouldn’t go live unless they thought they had the goods. The definitive question for the hearings will turn out not to be ‘Did he do it?’ but ‘Do the American people believe this an impeachable offense?’” David Rivkin and Elizabeth Foley, experts in constitutional law, answer, “It’s nakedly political and procedurally defective, and so far there’s no public evidence of high crimes.”
Peggy: “The leaders of the inquiry will have to satisfy the American people that they’re trying to be fair, not just partisan fools.” Adam Schiff recently said, “I don’t take any pleasure in the events that have made this process necessary.” Having seen his glee over any chance to get Trump, I don’t believe that for a minute.
The House likely will vote to impeach Trump and the Senate will say no. If he were removed, would Trump give his campaign funds to another candidate? Surviving impeachment, he likely will use them to pursue re-election. Lacking an acceptable alternative, can we stand four more years of political warfare? An Amarillo friend speaks for many conservatives: “I admire the President, although I detest his style… I looked over the Democratic candidates who are running now and I am glad that I am almost 94.”
Verna Benham, who lives in Kerrville, worked for the U.S. Foreign Service, which took her across the globe, including to Argentina, Taiwan and Chile.