Ari Fleischer: Trump is a political wrecking ball — but with remarkable accomplishments
Fleischer: Peaceful transfers of power were a hallmark of America until now
Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer on the fallout of violence in Washington.
President Trump entered office in 2017 as a political wrecking ball. He leaves the presidency Wednesday as an even bigger wrecking ball. In between, he was a wrecking ball with accomplishments.
However, the problem with wrecking balls is that unless they are controlled by a skilled operator, they can swing backward and harm the person controlling them. That’s a good description of what Trump has done throughout his presidency, from some of his tweets to some of his more inflammatory statements — and especially after he stirred the pot that helped inspire the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The rioters marred the president’s accomplishments and did tremendous damage to a worthy cause, especially for over 74 million peaceful Americans who voted for Trump.
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Trump marred his own accomplishments as well, but still, he should be judged for what he did throughout his presidency, the good and the bad. There is something to learn about America too, considering how many people supported him.
Trump won the second-most votes ever in a presidential election, after President-elect Joe Biden, who received about 7 million more.
The president’s appeal is and was that he is an anti-Washington outsider. A massive number of Americans don’t trust politicians and hold Washington in low regard. Many yearn for someone authentic, who bluntly speaks his or her mind.
Add to the mix a Congress that barely functions, problems that don’t get solved, and experts, including a biased media, that accepted the false Trump-Russia collusion charges made by Democrats. It’s no wonder the public was open to an outsider who threatened to disrupt the government.
Trump had some remarkable accomplishments on his watch.
Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, the U.S. poverty rate dropped to its lowest level since 1959, an amazing fact that barely received any attention because the news came out during the pandemic.
In fact, in late 2018 Trump did more to lift up the poor than any of his predecessors, including President Lyndon Johnson, who launched the War on Poverty.
The unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma, pre-pandemic, also hit the lowest level in recorded history. Hispanic and African American unemployment hit record lows.
Wages, stagnant for a decade, shot up under Trump, especially for working blue-collar Americans. These people benefitted greatly by Trump’s low-tax and deregulation policies.
Unfortunately, the economic dislocation caused by the coronavirus wiped out many of the benefits on the jobs front that Trump had achieved.
In addition, the president brought relative peace to the Middle East. He virtually destroyed ISIS and helped achieve remarkable peace agreements that will lead to diplomatic relations between four Muslim nations and Israel — an extraordinary accomplishment.
Trump stood up to China, resetting the terms of relations between our countries. He understands that China is a growing threat to America — economically, morally and militarily. He opened people’s eyes to these problems and stood up to China using tariffs — a tool no typical politicians would have used.
The president’s appointments to federal courts, especially the Supreme Court, will have an impact for decades.
Politically, Trump was a mixed bag, although he fared better than President Barack Obama. Obama and Trump both came into office with the House and Senate under their party’s control and each left having lost those institutions.
However, Democrats lost 13 seats in the Senate under Obama, while Republicans lost just one under Trump between 2017 and this year.
Under Obama, Democrats lost 69 seats in the House. Under Trump, the GOP lost 29 House seats.
Obama left behind a wiped-out, unpopular Democratic Party. Trump leaves an exhausted and split Republican Party that almost took the House in November, has a 50-50 tie in the Senate and still has control of most governorships and statehouses. The GOP in 2021 is in a much better position than it was in 2009.
Trump’s biggest problem was and is himself. He regularly went too far, crossed too many lines, and offended too many people. If he had toned himself down a notch or three, he could have kept many of the voters who liked his tough, blunt approach without losing as many women and college graduates, especially in the suburbs, who were turned off by his tweets and his demeaning behavior.
It’s one thing to fight when necessary, but it’s another to fight everyone, including your allies, almost all the time, in ways that go too far, culminating in a takeover of the Capitol by pro-Trump forces. The march took place after Trump summoned his supporters to come to Washington Jan. 6 and then instructed them at a rally to march to the Capitol.
“You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” Trump told the crowd. “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
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Remember the first presidential candidate debate, the one in which Trump and Biden interrupted each other all night long? Then there was the second debate, where Trump bit his tongue.
If his four years were more like the second debate than the first, Trump would likely be enjoying another four years as president.
But that’s not who Trump is. He is an alpha-male who often pushes conspiracy theories and stays focused on his own greatness. He lost an election and never accepted the truth about it. His personality dominates his accomplishments. He thinks that’s why he won; he doesn’t understand that’s why he lost.
As for what happens next, the future for Republicans might not look bright right now, but it is.
The GOP should be America’s blue-collar, populist, outsider party, dedicated to individual and religious freedom. It should be the party that stands up to China. And it should do all this without saying or doing crazy things that scare college-educated voters, especially women.
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The Republican Party must resist violence in all forms, denounce White supremacy and continue to grow in Black and Hispanic communities.
Donald Trump is the very definition of unique. No other candidate will be like him.
A steady outsider will emerge who is Trump-like in policy, without being Donald Trump. That candidate can take back the White House and show Republicans how to take back Congress.
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