Who’s the ‘ab­nor­mal’ one now!

New York Post - - NEWS -

Dur­ing last year’s cam­paign, The New York Times jus­ti­fied its bi­ased cov­er­age of Don­ald Trump by say­ing he was the “ab­nor­mal” can­di­date, while Hil­lary Clin­ton was the “nor­mal” one. Oh, what a dif­fer­ence a year makes. Now it’s Pres­i­dent Trump who is do­ing bi­par­ti­san deals with Congress and try­ing to rally the world against North Korea while Clin­ton is em­bar­rass­ing her­self and her party with a sore-loser blame game. It’s time to re­verse the nor­mal and ab­nor­mal la­bels.

The re­mark­able con­trast be­tween the 2016 foes these days is more vin­di­ca­tion of the out­come, and helps ex­plain why he won and she lost. Clin­ton’s sour de­ci­sion to point fin­gers in ev­ery di­rec­tion, in­clud­ing at for­mer Pres­i­dent Obama and for­mer vice-pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, is a first for a los­ing can­di­date — but not sur­pris­ing. The self-pity­ing, en­ti­tled core she spent a life­time try­ing to hide is now on naked dis­play.

As a Demo­crat who knows her well told me, “Peo­ple al­ways com­plained she wasn’t au­then­tic. Well, she’s be­ing au­then­tic now. This is who she re­ally is.”

Yikes. Imag­ine that train wreck in the Oval Of­fice.

Even Clin­ton’s rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a smart lawyer is now sus­pect. Her book “What Hap­pened,” and com­ments she made in in­ter­views are a dog’s stew of ex­cuses and half-truths that do not add up to a cred­i­ble ex­pla­na­tion for the great­est up­set in pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics.

As Peggy Lee asked, “Is that all there is?” In Hil­lary Clin­ton’s case, the un­for­tu­nate an­swer is yes, that’s all there is.

Mean­while, Amer­ica is wit­ness­ing the nor­mal­iz­ing of a new pres­i­dent, flaws and all. There are even signs that the me­dia, while still hos­tile, is get­ting tired of declar­ing that the sky is fall­ing ev­ery time Trump col­ors out­side the lines.

To be sure, his jour­ney from play­boy de­vel­oper and TV star to the Oval Of­fice con­tin­ues to have more than its share of bumpy mo­ments, but there are un­mis­tak­able signs that he is grow­ing into the de­mands of the job.

Some of that progress is re­flected in the de­clin­ing num­ber of times Trump has cre­ated off-topic con­tro­ver­sies lately. He’s still tweet­ing, but caus­ing fewer storms.

Other signs in­volve a dis­ci­plined ac­cep­tance of cir­cum­stances, such as deal­ing with the hur­ri­canes that hit Texas and Louisiana, and then Florida. Trump vis­ited af­ter both, hugged chil­dren, handed out food to bat­tered sur­vivors and pledged the na­tion’s as­sis­tance.

Show­ing up is re­quired, but Trump, ac­com­pa­nied by the first lady, did it well. More im­por­tantly, fed­eral disas­ter of­fi­cials are get­ting high marks for their prepa­ra­tion and re­sponses.

While no pres­i­dent is in­volved in the de­tails of such a mas­sive op­er­a­tion, Trump would have got­ten the blame if it went off track, so he gets credit for a job well done on his watch.

An­other kind of nor­mal­iz­ing was forced on Trump last week when he got ahead of his skis in talks with Democrats over the “Dream­ers.” Af­ter Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi an­nounced they had a deal with the pres­i­dent to re­solve the thorny is­sue, and that the pact did not in­clude a wall on the Mex­i­can bor­der, Trump con­firmed the out­lines, say­ing “the wall will come later.”

Whoa, Nel­lie. The blow­back from his base was fu­ri­ous and tested his fa­mous claim that he could shoot some­one on Fifth Av­enue and still keep his core sup­port­ers. The wall de­fined his tough stance on im­mi­gra­tion, which was cen­tral to his elec­tion, and now he was in­ject­ing doubt into his com­mit­ment.

Even worse, he did it in a meet­ing with Democrats only, with no Repub­li­can lead­ers in the room.

“This was just a straight-up prom­ise all the way through his cam­paign,” Iowa con­gress­man Steve King, an early Trump sup­porter, said on tele­vi­sion. “I think some­thing is go­ing to have to be re­versed here with this pres­i­dent’s pol­icy or it will just blow up his base.”

Trump quickly re­al­ized his er­ror and a flurry of e-mails from his team in­sisted he is “100% com­mit­ted to build­ing the wall” and “the wall is non-ne­go­tiable.”

The larger les­son is that no pres­i­dent gets a blank check. A man­date comes with lim­its and re­quire­ments, and Trump’s is no ex­cep­tion.

In­deed, his de­ci­sion to court Dems on a host of is­sues, largely out of frus­tra­tion with GOP lead­ers, is a high­wire act that could yield big ben­e­fits, or end in a spec­tac­u­lar fall.

While much of the pub­lic de­spises grid­lock and em­braces the pres­i­dent’s “let’s get it done at­ti­tude,” Washington is an un­for­giv­ing place for a pres­i­dent who loses his own party. Schumer’s boast­ing about how much Trump “likes us” and re­ports that their din­ner was full of laugh­ter is re­viv­ing an im­pres­sion among some in the GOP that Trump re­mains more com­fort­able with Democrats.

Not in­ci­den­tally, Schumer and Pelosi are get­ting at­tacked from the left for the same re­ports, with Moveon.org and oth­ers warn­ing they should not give Trump any cred­i­bil­ity by mak­ing deals with him. A Dem con­gress­man from Vir­ginia, Rep. Gerry Con­nolly, told Politico that many in the party “get alarmed at the spec­u­la­tion that this might be a new day dawn­ing.”

Talk about ab­nor­mal — some in the “out” party would rather ab­di­cate their du­ties than ac­cept Trump as pres­i­dent.

And so it goes, with the coun­try along for the ride on the learn­ing curve of a most un­ortho­dox pres­i­dent. Per­spec­tive and pa­tience are re­quired.

Con­sid­er­ing Clin­ton’s atro­cious con­duct, Trump’s progress re­minds me of my fa­ther’s re­sponse when any­one com­plained about get­ting old.

“Con­sider the al­ter­na­tive,” my fa­ther would say. That’s wise ad­vice now, too.

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