Friday, November 11, 2016

Clinton and Obama showed us how to put political rancor behind us. But will it last?

President-Elect Donald Trump met with President Obama for 90 minutes in the Oval Office Thursday, and afterwards both spoke of moving beyond past political rhetoric.   Trump surrogates have also begun walking back some of the extreme things he has said.

I was also encouraged (a little) to learn that the transition planning has been going on, not in the campaign itself (with the Alt-Right crowd) but with experienced Washington insiders who have roots in previous Republican administrations.

This is the marvel of the peaceful transition of power in a constitutional republic as we have.   Not only do the people get to choose their president, but being elevated as leader of all the people tends to have a sobering effect.   One is surrounded, as well, by traditions and professionals who transcend political parties.  

Huffington Post's senior political reporter Amanda Terkel wrote: 
"Top supporters of President-elect Donald Trump threw cold water on his campaign promise to put Hillary Clinton in jail, saying it was time to unite the country and move forward."   Chris Christie on NBC's "Today" show emphasized the "enormously gracious conversation" that Trump and Hillary Clinton had with each other on election night.  Christie seemed confident that Trump would take seriously the job of uniting the country.

Rudi Giuliani addressed the question of Trump's rally cry of putting Clinton in jail., saying that is “a tough one that should be given a lot of thought and shouldn’t be an off-the-cuff answer."   Saying that it should be reviewed to see "how bad is the evidence."  Giuliani, rumored to be Trump's choice for Attorney General, then said:  “If it isn’t as bad as some of the exaggerators think it is, then maybe the best thing to do is forget about it and move on. If it is really bad, then somebody’s got to look at it who is independent.”   Giuliani also said on Fox News that he was "uncomfortable with the idea of going after people in the legal system for political reasons."

Terkel also noted: ". . . since his win, Trump has been more conciliatory.  Quoting from his victory speech:  “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. . . .  I mean that very sincerely. Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together.  To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”

Terkel pointed out that the Trump team "has also been walking back some of his other big, popular promises. Giuliani said Trump will first tackle tax reform and that building a giant wall on the border with Mexico will 'take awhile.'  The promise to enact a ban on Muslims from entering the United States has also now disappeared from his website."

So what can we reasonably conclude and expect?    My predictions are not noted for reliability (after my dramatic failure predicting who would win the presidency), but for what it's worth:   I'm guessing that President Trump is going to be far less of an extremist and loose cannon than was Candidate Trump.   That will still put him in conservative Republican policy positions on most issues -- but not all.    In fact, he's far less conservative than either Ted Cruz or Mike Pence.   And far more pragmatic.

Perhaps we should take seriously that pithy adage that's been making the rounds.   I don't know who originally said it, but it goes something like this:   "The mistake people make about Trump is in taking him literally but not seriously.   You should take him seriously, but not literally."


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