The doctor is IN
Make room for us on the couch
IT’S BEEN years, Doc, but you haven’t changed much. Maybe a little grayer around the ears. But you still have that same shirt, the same office, the same smell. The office, that is, not you.
Well, since you ask, we haven’t really needed you for a while. Healthy people don’t have to visit the doctor except for checkups and bloodwork. But who visits a shrink for checkups?
Yes, there’s a first for everything, we suppose.
It was all easier the past eight years. The guy in the Oval Office was a progressive liberal, and when he did progressive liberal things we stomped the floor so hard the folks down in advertising complained. How do you draw a red line on the use of chemical weapons and not enforce it when your bluff is called? The stimulus didn’t stimulate, the debt climbed to nearly $20 trillion, Obamacare was the first major entitlement to be shoved down our throats by one party, America stood by while the Arab Spring sprung into disaster in Libya and Syria, and the country remains as divided as ever. All we had to do was point to wrong and call it wrong. And right. Certainly the last president did a few things right. Give us a minute and we’ll think of one.
But when the current president does something off-the-wall, if we call him on it, we’re called (shudder) liberals.
Honest, Doc. The other day we got a phone call, and the man said criticizing the president of the United States was un-American. Where this guy was the last eight years, we’re sure we don’t know. But it seems that criticizing the president is the most American thing an editorial writer—or any American—can do.
Many folks are treating politics these days like sports, Doc. My team comes from my home town, your team comes from your home town. And we root, root, root for the home team. When the home team messes up, we wuz robbed! And when the opposing team scores, they were cheating, the umps blew the call and your mama dresses you funny! Heaven help the St. Louis Cardinals fan who mumbles “good play” when a Cubbie turns an impossible double-play.
But politics ain’t sports. Or shouldn’t be.
Come on, Doc, spare us the democracy-ain’t-easy speech. We don’t mind characters in high office. We live in Ar-kin-saw! We were raised on characters in high office. Need we go through the lists of the Tommy Robinsons, Jay Dickeys, Jim Johnsons, Monroe Schwarzloses and the whole parade of Clintons, Rockefellers and Pryors? Take the Longs out of the equation, and Louisiana ain’t got nuthin’ on us for characters in office.
Bradley Gitz—another Arkansas character—devoted his column the other week to asking whether conservatives must support the president, as somebody suggested. But why should they? This president isn’t a conservative. For Hoover’s sakes, he’s only been a Republican for about 18 months.
Maybe it boils down to this: He’s playing first base and batting cleanup for our team these days. He’s wearing the right colored uniform. So booing him from the stands is a good way to get a beer poured over our heads.
So when Charles Krauthammer or George Will or Bret Stephens write a column criticizing Donald Trump, are they being un-American, un-conservative, un-Republican? Thomas Sowell was such a Never Trumper that he retired soon after the election. (Correlation does not imply causation, but come on, Doc.) These are the current leaders of the conservative movement in America. Donald Trump is not.
Did you see his tweet the other day? No, not that one. No, not that one, either. Something about a lady anchor on a cable news show and criticizing her supposed face work and so unpresidentially on. We don’t remember Reagan pouring personal insults into the news like this, even when he was personally insulted. The current president has good ideas on tax cuts and government spending, but nobody’s talking about all that because he can’t keep off his phone.
This president is a populist. And if it’s popular to do a conservative thing, like nominate a Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court or pull out of the Paris Accords, he’ll do it. But if it’s popular to do a liberal thing, like guaranteeing six weeks of maternity leave to new moms, he’ll do that, too.
We’re looking for an answer, Doc. What’s a conservative to do when his party is in charge but not his ideas?
WELL, YES, Doc, we did pledge to give the new president a chance. Everybody did. Even those on the left-ish end of politics. Well, yes, Doc, some of us meant it. At least we did.
Uh, six months, Doc. This is July, right? He’s been in office six months, almost.
Yes, well, still, being new on the job doesn’t explain all the tweets and nonsense and loyalty pledges and thin-skinned criticisms of small-time players. Why does he send his people out to say one thing to the media, then contradict them a few minutes later in interviews? Why is he undermining his own legal team before the Supreme Court? The only thing more confusing than being on his legal team might be a person in his media shop.
What’s that? Sure, he’s done good things. The Cabinet, for best example. There’s no way a President Kasich or President Rubio or President Bush III would have had the guts to choose those people. DeVos, Mattis, Tillerson, Carson, Kelly, Haley . . . . This might be the best Cabinet since President Reagan surrounded himself with the Bakers, Bennetts, Kirkpatricks, Haigs and Shultzes.
Yes, the Paris Accords were a sham. And if he nominates another justice— or two—for the Supreme Court in the mold of Neil Gorsuch, that would put America on the right path for decades.
So . . . . Praise the man when he deserves it? And criticize him when he needs it? Sure, maybe we should wait to see how the summer plays out, to see if he can learn on the job. Maybe his kids can have an intervention on the whole Twitter/phone thing.
That’s a good idea, Doc. One day at a time. And stick with our principles, which is always good advice.
Thank you, Doc. You know, you’d make a good editorial writer. You certainly have the smell for it.
Doc, can you schedule us for another visit, maybe mid-December? Thanks.
And you’d better make it an hour next time. Doubtless we’ll have more to talk about.