Trump’s First Days

Donald Trump’s first days in office have been filled with controversies—some genuine and created by him, others phony and played up by the usual suspects. Continuing my pledge to be fair and balanced in my comments on how Trump is doing, let’s begin with the phony ones.

Because of his executive order that started the ball rolling on reversing Obamacare, we now hear hysterical rantings about how all the poor will lose their healthcare. Not so. A large portion of Obamacare enrollments, it seems, have swelled the number of people on Medicaid. Obamacare itself has done little to ensure everyone is covered. Its primary achievements have been astronomical deductibles and premium hikes for those forced into it.

If Republicans can unite on how to dismantle this foolishness, everyone will benefit, rich and poor alike.

Trump’s overturning of Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders is one of the most positive and rational things he is doing. May it continue.

The Left is also apoplectic over the immigration EO Trump signed over the weekend. There are things wrong with the way it was implemented, hitting green-card residents and others who were previously approved to be in the country. Particularly painful were the stories that highlighted Christian families being sent back as well as an Iraqi interpreter who has worked on behalf of America for a decade. That misstep has been officially corrected by new DHS head John Kelly, who has come out publicly stating it doesn’t apply to those kinds of people.

Neither did this new EO specifically target Muslims. It only kept in place the Obama policy toward seven of the fifty Muslim-majority nations, the ones most likely to harbor terrorists.

I have a hard time understanding criticism of a policy that simply requires vetting and caution before allowing certain people into the country. Open-borders advocates accuse anyone who is concerned about terrorists using immigration to infiltrate and attack us of being without compassion. I wonder how many of those advocates leave the doors of their homes unlocked at night, welcoming whoever wants to come in for whatever reason?

Yet Trump is being castigated as a racist/bigot/fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite cliché. Keep in mind this would have happened with any Republican taking over the presidency. Trump, though, with his penchant for stirring the pot unnecessarily, has lowered the point at which professional leftists boil over.

Another of Trump’s EOs that is excellent is the one that reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy, which bars international non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding. I give him praise for that.

Lost in the flurry of hysteria over the immigration edict are others, both good and/or questionable.

I would think that all points along the political spectrum should agree with the ones that apply a five-year ban on lobbying by those currently serving in the administration and a lifetime ban on foreign government lobbying. Let’s applaud those.

The most questionable action, though, is Trump’s decision to shake up the personnel on the National Security Council. He removed the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from attending the meetings. Um . . . how are they not involved with national security?

The coup de grace was then to place Steve Bannon, his chief political strategist, on the NSC instead. Huh? I haven’t heard a good explanation for those moves yet.

Trump also says he will name his nominee for the Supreme Court this week, possibly even today. Rumors had it that Neil Gorsuch was the probable pick, a man who seems to be solid in all areas; some even say he would be better than Scalia in some ways.

Now there are new rumors that Thomas Hardiman may be the top choice. From what I’ve read, Hardiman, while considered conservative, has never been tested on hot-button issues like abortion. After so many evangelicals voted for Trump based on his promise to place someone on the Court who can be trusted on that issue, Hardiman could turn out to be a major disappointment. Trump’s sister, a pro-abortion judge, has spoken out in favor of Hardiman.

Potential problem here? Another David Souter or Anthony Kennedy? We don’t know. Gorsuch or Hardiman? We’ll find out very soon.

The one major positive, however, that all conservatives can point to as the new administration gets underway is this:

For that, I am grateful.

Those Closest to Trump

Last week, I gave an overview of some of Trump’s picks for his cabinet, both the solid ones and ones I consider questionable. I omitted a few (hard to cover them all), but I should mention in passing the choice of Rick Perry for energy secretary (very good) and Elaine Chao for the Department of Transportation.

There are mixed reviews on Chao: she served as secretary of labor previously, where some said she did very well, but there is criticism that choosing the wife of Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not exactly a prime example for the drain-the-swamp battle cry.

Many Trump supporters have high hopes for what he will accomplish, for sure:

That would be nice, but I’ll wait to see what kind of results we get.

Some of the jobs closest to Trump don’t require Senate confirmation. They tell you the most about who Trump trusts.

First on that list would be Stephen Bannon, formerly of the Breitbart website. All kinds of opinions have been offered about Bannon. My view of him is somewhere in between those who view him as the devil incarnate and those who see him as the policy savior.

With the lofty title of chief strategist, Bannon will apparently be responsible for guiding Trump in his decisions on what policies to push for and how to get the job done. Bannon is hard-driving, which can be good for such a position, but he also can alienate people very quickly.

My first acquaintance with Bannon was positive. He was one the writers/producers of a video that I use in my course on Ronald Reagan and modern American conservatism.

That video, In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed, details Reagan’s decades-long fight against communism and the strategy he used to take down the Soviet Union. It is a powerful video, one that offers a clear corrective to the liberal interpretation of events that led to the Soviet downfall.

The quality of the video is outstanding, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has not yet seen it.

Bannon’s latest position at Breitbart, though, gives me pause. I don’t accept the cry of “racist” that some would level at him. I am concerned, though, that he allowed that site to be a provocative place where the so-called “alt-right” felt comfortable. I want nothing to do with them, as they are far too close to neo-nazism for me.

Bannon is no racist or Nazi, but when you play footsie with those who are, you tarnish yourself. Just so you know, I used to be a contributor to Breitbart’s Big Government site, so I have no axe to grind here. During the election, though, I stopped reading anything from Breitbart, as I saw it devolve into a Trump propaganda mouthpiece, willing to smear other candidates in its devotion to Trump.

I’m definitely wait-and-see with Bannon.

Another controversial appointment is former general Mike Flynn to serve as Trump’s national security advisor. I’ve watched Flynn being interviewed on news programs, and again, I’m a little torn.

Flynn’s positive is that he understands the Islamist threat. His negatives are that he is potentially too emotional, too open to conspiracy theories (like his boss), and perhaps far too friendly to Russia, which I continue to see as a threat to our national security, not an ally.

As with all of Trump’s questionable choices, I simply hope and pray for the best.

Finally, there is the very first decision on personnel that Trump made: installing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff. That decision was probably wise, as Trump needs someone who can work well with the Republican party overall.

Priebus, as chair of the Republican National Committee over the past years, has shown himself to be someone who can navigate the perils of politics. I’ve not always been a big fan of his, especially when he seemed to jump on Trump’s train much too soon and shut down any opposition to Trump at the national convention.

Yet if Trump is to succeed working with the party he so recently joined, he needs someone like Priebus to act as a guide.

I believe I’ve covered most of the key players in the upcoming Trump presidency. I hope the good ones can have a positive influence on him and his policies; I hope the questionable ones are either denied confirmation or will not detract too much from what this administration needs to be to reverse the political course of the nation.

Let me add this, though: reversing the political course is not enough; it’s the spiritual/moral foundation that is in need of the greatest repair, and that will never come through politics. Christian influence on the culture remains the top priority.

Trump’s Non-Apology

Donald Trump has taken a rather unique approach to campaigning throughout his run for the presidency. He has been a no-holds-barred barroom brawler (the closest analogy I can find) who uses insults and innuendoes continuously. What has disturbed Republicans the most is that, even after officially getting the nomination, he has made Republicans his target as often, or more often, than Hillary Clinton.

Trump has never let up on his criticisms of those within the Republican party who oppose his candidacy, or who simply can’t bring themselves to hop on his bandwagon. He never seems to forget anything he considers a personal slight and directs his fire accordingly.

The hiring of a new “team” to conduct the rest of the campaign is supposed to signal a new direction:

Donzilla

However, the new head man, Steve Bannon, who runs the Breitbart site, is known to be someone with a personality much like Trump’s, so is this really going to make much of a difference?

Some observers, especially those who desperately want Trump to change his tone, think they see the ever-elusive pivot taking place. After all, in a speech last week, Trump apologized for his past comments. He’s a new man!

Well, let’s look at what Trump actually said:

Sometimes, in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and believe it or not I regret it.

I do regret it particularly where it may have caused personal pain.

Examine those words carefully. First, he puts his insulting comments in the context of “the heat of debate,” thereby providing an excuse for saying what he did. Then he simply says he chose the wrong words, as if those words don’t flow from a heart that gave birth to them. The emphasis is on the external, not the internal, but it’s the internal—the heart—out of which the mouth speaks. You can check that out; Jesus said it.

He uses the word “regret,” but again notice the context. He says, “believe it or not” with respect to his having regrets. Having regret over anything is not the real Donald Trump. It’s not the way he has lived his life. The wording indicates that.

We’re supposed to believe now that he has suddenly changed?

Then he goes on to say he particularly regrets saying the wrong thing “where it may have caused personal pain.” May have? Is there any doubt?

He ridiculed one political rival by saying her face is ugly. He called another one a child molester. He took on his strongest rival by insinuating he had hidden numerous adulterous affairs (through that organ of national probity, The National Inquirer, while openly boasting about his own numerous adulteries), by lambasting that same rival’s wife, and by linking the rival’s father to the JFK assassination. Now he has the temerity to say he “may” have caused personal pain?

He didn’t use the word “if,” but it’s the same thing. You know, that old “apology” of “if” I have offended you? That doesn’t really admit to anything. It puts the onus instead on the person who was offended. Oh, that bothered you? So sorry.

You also might notice that he didn’t give any examples of using the wrong words. He didn’t publicly express wrongdoing for anything in particular. It was all rather vague, intended to cover a multitude of sins without having to acknowledge any specifically.

This was not a real apology. The problem is that many fall for it as if it’s the real thing.

In that same speech, Trump went on to say, “I will never lie to you.” So he’s now going to begin telling the truth? He also said that his real problem is that he can be “too honest.” Yes, now there’s a real fault.

That’s similar to someone being interviewed for a job, and when asked what faults one might have, the fallback is always something like “well, I probably work too hard.”

This is all so phony. Trump is Trump, and unless there is a genuine conversion based on Biblical truth, we will not see any change.

Trump Unfiltered

Without a true change of heart, he will continue to be his own worst enemy:

Let Trump

Real sorrow for one’s words and actions is grounded on an understanding of repentance. The apostle Paul had written to the Corinthian church about some of the sins they had allowed. They responded properly to his admonition. When he wrote his second letter to them, he put it this way:

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Judas Iscariot was sorrowful over what he did in his betrayal of Jesus. Peter was sorrowful over his own betrayal of Jesus. Judas committed suicide; Peter repented. Only the second example is true Godly sorrow.

If I see genuine repentance in Donald Trump, I will take back everything I have written in this post today. But until then, I stand by this analysis.