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Criticism and Crying Wolf

I have to admit I am a bit surprised by the number of people upset with me for saying I intend to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt moving forward and reset my position on him. Why wouldn’t I exercise a bit more restraint and humility, having so publicly misread the election?

It does not mean I do not have concerns about Steve Bannon, but my position in the Obama Administration was that Valerie Jarrett was a terrible advisor, but the President has the right to surround himself with terrible advisors and we should hold him accountable for the bad actions and policies derived therefrom. But if Obama got Jarrett, Trump can have Bannon. And when the alt-right goes marching through Washington or people start trying to round up Jews because of it, then we can raise the issue and provide shelter to those in need.

But there is no guarantee that will happen.

I actually do not have a problem with Trump refusing a blind trust. The constitution sets out the parameters by which the President is qualified to serve and placing assets in a blind trust is not there. This raises a very serious potential conflict of interest and may ultimately be the thing that brings down his administration, but that is speculative and hypothetical. His decision concerns me, but there is no constitutional issue here.

His desire to give his children all security clearance is no big deal. That does not mean that they will be given security clearance. As President he is powerless to order it and if he or they share classified information without the proper security clearance there will be repercussions.

And much of the speculation, hypothesis, and hysteria comes from people who got the election completely wrong. I think it best, for those of us who got the election completely wrong, to exercise some humility here.

If we got it that wrong and continue to beat up the President-elect, it looks more like crying wolf than sound and worthwhile criticisms. Who would even listen to us except those who already agree with us? Those who have supported Trump all along will just immediately take the posture that the criticism comes from sour grapes.

To be sure, when valid criticism is leveled, a lot of Trump supporters will still take that position, but a willingness to give Trump some grace and latitude now will mean others would notice.

Right now though there is just speculation, hypothesis, and hysteria. My biggest concern about the administration is that Republicans are now going to start giving Trump passes on those things they’d never give Obama a pass on and they’ll start excusing terrible policies that will damage the country.

Trump is going to do things that deserve criticism. Having promised to make Christianity great again in the United States, if he does not protect religious liberty against the gay rights and transgender agenda, church leaders who supported him will need to be reminded of his promises.

Having promised solid Supreme Court picks, if he goes the Harriet Miers route, we will need to hold him to account.

But Trump keeping Bannon, who he had on the campaign trail prior to and during the time voters placed him into the Presidency, does not seem like it is worth my time to be outraged. If policies and positions derived from that choice are terrible, then I’ll reconsider it. But right now it is all speculative.

Trump is not a career politician. He is going to make many mistakes a career politician would never make. Americans are tired of career politicians, so Trump will need some measure of grace to make the mistakes a careerist would never make.

When he gets the policies wrong or emboldens the worst in others to come out, as happened on the campaign trail, I won’t be afraid to speak. But bitching for the sake of bitching is helpful to no one and comes across as crying wolf.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the left is melting down, calling for coups, claiming Republicans have stolen a fair election, and are putting safety pins on as magical charms and virtue signaling. There’s a lot to cover there.


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