We’ve not seen anything quite like it, at least in my lifetime. The Trump transition has been like a drink of water from a fire hydrant and we’re just two weeks into it. I said all along during the election year that I could see no really good outcome regardless of who was elected, but on balance I must say that I think there is much to like so far. In fact, the very serious nature of it aside for a moment, I can’t think of another time when I’ve had more fun than with the political and policy disruption that Trump has brought to Washington. The Reagan transition of 1981 was a lot of fun and certainly the Gingrich revolution of 1994 was exhilarating and transforming, but, probably largely because the election was such a surprise, this transition tops both.
Of course, there have already been both highs and lows. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was virtually perfect, the rollout of the immigration and refugee policy, while well-intentioned, was a disaster; putting Iran “on notice” was long overdue, the humiliation of Mexico’s President was bad manners at best, damaging diplomacy at worst. And it would be nice if Trump had a lot more of Reagan’s grace and humility, but let’s face it–his style is a big part of what got him there and, frankly, some of the bluntness is refreshing. There will be much more of all of this, so relax and roll with the punches. And maybe the best part of it for me is that the Democrats and the left have no clue how to respond, except through futile resistance and obstruction along with support of mobs in the street. And I wonder if they realize how goofy and embarrassing much of their pandering to the loonier elements of their base makes them look. All of this nonsense about the fear engendered that Trump’s appointees (which have overall been surprisingly very good, incidentally) will move the country to the hard right, the boycotting of committee votes on nominees, etc., etc. They need to get this straight: Trump’s election, however narrowly decided, is a mandate to immediately move away from the eight-year trend in progressive left ideology domestically and the liberal internationalist/blame America first mode in foreign policy. His government should and will reflect that. To quote Obama in 2009–“I won!”
There is, of course, a major risk that all of this aggressiveness will be too hastily initiated and/or overdone and result in overreach, particularly if Trump gets too far ahead of his Congressional majority on key issues like trade and Obamacare overhaul. Another risk is in the streets and, although a leftist Tea Party as successful as the 2010 populist right version is probably not in the cards, these anti-Trump marches and event protests are not going away and there is at least some chance that they could spell trouble if capable leadership steps forward. But for the time being, the not so loyal opposition doesn’t have a leader or a playbook.