Breathe, Henny Penny, breathe. The sky is not falling. A plague of locusts is not descending. The world is not ending tomorrow.
Every four years, in a ritual as tired and predictable as broken campaign promises, a clamor echoes through America. Republicans and Democrats holler for change. They demand it, as if anything other than White House administrations ever actually changes. The Bushes, the Clintons, Obama? In various ways, they all read from the same script that promises to multiply the fishes and loaves of American manufacturing and to deliver upon the masses an everlasting peace in the Middle East.
How’s that been working out for you?
Enter a different kind of Washington actor. A reality-TV star and robber barren. Go ahead, say it. (Gulp.) Seriously, help me here. I’m struggling just to write it... President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Holy moly. So, you wanted real change versus scripted? Sure about that?
Is Trump a leader who is half clueless and wholly un-presidential? Good Lord, yes. Yes! Homophobic? Racist? Narcissistic? Appears so. Cunning, conning, lying, conniving? Of course. He’s the man-child of Washington’s beloved bedmate— Wall Street.
But is Trump the antichrist? No. Pretty sure, no. At least no more than Hillary. Both were foxes with designs on the henhouse. Only difference was that Hillary dressed in white and pretended to be a sheep. Trump wears his predator label proudly. But that alone doesn’t set him apart from every other fox stalking Capitol Hill sporting an American flag lapel pin and a lifetime of free healthcare.
The trait that most distinguishes Trump from everyday Washington is a thing both worrisome and exhilarating. He‘s scary unpredictable. Entitled billionaires rarely follow scripts or toe party lines, and, when disgusted or appalled by this, that or the other, they react with all the self-restraint a preschooler can muster.
But that should not automatically elicit images of the Apocalypse. It could actually be a good thing. If, say, you wanted to raze an old stone edifice (e.g., the Capitol building) to make room for something new, you would place dynamite in strategic spots. You’d then stand back and pray the collapse resembled modern demolition versus a game of Jenga.
Hillary wasn’t about to topple anything, much less the status quo. She was the Establishment Candidate, fed by the profits of big business and anointed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), a fixture in Washington since 1848. In March, Hillary proved she was just another cardboard cutout of the suits preceding her. Unlike my choice for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, she dutifully bowed to the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC). In promising her undying loyalty to the Jewish state and ignoring Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinians, she sold out. There’s simply no change in her. She’s old school.
Trump also sang Israel’s praises during the AIPAC conference in March, but weeks earlier he’d hinted at a change in Washington’s stand with Israel. At a Republican town hall meeting in Charleston, S.C., he described himself as “neutral” in the conflict, refusing to place blame solely on the Palestinians or Israelis.
Beginning fiscal year 2018, with Trump relocated to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Israel will get an 18-percent bump in its annual gift from Washington. Israel’s tab to American taxpayers increases $700 million overnight to $3.8 billion per year. That taxpayer largesse is supposed to extend for a minimum of one decade. Do the math. That’s roughly $10.4 million per day given to Israel for 3,650 days— the most generous aid package of its kind. Ever.
I would love to be in the Oval Office when the first bill comes due under President Trump. Will he fondly recall the love he expressed during the AIPAC conference or will he have a “WTF!” moment? I suspect the latter. If he’s even half the astute businessman he claims to be, he’ll ask hard questions, e.g., What exactly does the hardworking American taxpayer get in return for $10.4 million paid daily?
In December at a Republican Jewish Coalition event intended to woo campaign donors, Trump was the wild card in the room. Six months before the Republican primary, several GOP candidates jockeyed for RJC support. Trump apparently hadn’t read the script.
“You’re not gonna support me,” he said, “because I don’t want your money.”
If that Donald Trump resides in the White House, there will be fireworks. Washington politics have long needed demolishing and Hillary offered no dynamite.
Then again, Trump could decimate a decade of progress on climate change, health care, free trade, immigration, gay rights, and foreign policy. The proverbial bull in a china shop, he might smash a decade’s worth of legislation.
I still half-expect Ashton Kutcher to walk out any moment and tell us we’ve been Punk’d. That’s how ridiculous it seems to give Trump the nuclear codes and the keys to the White House. However, if change is what you wanted, I suspect he might scare up some.
Be careful what you ask for, right?