We continually misunderestimate President-elect Donald Trump. Lord knows I do.
I didn’t know much about The Donald before the presidential campaign that he won. My first awareness of Trump was when he swooped in and rebuilt the Wollman Rink, the ice skating oval located in the Southeast quadrant of Central Park.
The rink was a symbol of New York City’s dysfunction. It had fallen into disrepair and the city seemed incapable of fixing it. The rink was closed for repairs in 1980 by the Koch administration, which planned to restore it at the cost of $4.7 million. In 1985 the rink was $12 million over budget and still not ready.
In June of 1986, Trump then a second-tier developer with a single skyscraper to his name, said he rebuild the rink by Christmas. Trump got the Wollman Rink up and running by November 1, two months ahead of schedule and $775,000 under budget. He proved his point that the private sector was a far more efficient vehicle than the municipal government and made his reputation as a can-do guy.
After that very favorable impression, I knew of Trump as that guy that fired people on the Apprentice, a TV show I didn’t care for.
I remember being intrigued, but not impressed with Trump at CPAC in 2015. I thought Trump shallow with his unusual rhetorical speaking style. I paid attention when he said he had told Fox he was quitting the TV show so he could run for president. But I still didn’t think he was a contender.
I was infatuated with Sen. Ted Cruz. I had great respect Sen. Marco Rubio and was very impressed with Governors Jindal, Perry and Walker. I looked at what I saw as the best field of Republican presidential nominees ever. And then there was Trump, who didn’t have a prayer.
Presidential primary candidate Trump did not appeal to me. I didn’t care for the real estate tycoon turned reality television celebrity, who was only a recent Republican who had donated generously to Democrats — including Hillary Clinton and espoused inconsistent positions antithetical to Conservative orthodoxy on almost every major issue important to me.
I did my best to stop Trump. I wrote about all the dirt I could find about him, over and over and over again. But I am one of those who saw Hillary as the much bigger danger to the Constitution, the Republic and Conservatism.
After Trump won the Republican nomination I focused on going after Hillary. And yes, I actually thought Trump would win:
Trump will defeat Hillary, just as he defeated the 16 Republicans. It won’t matter that #NeverTrump or even a good portion of the GOP Establishment won’t support him. Facts won’t matter. The betrayal of the base by the Republican Establishment and the Obamacrat’s remaking of America provide more than enough fertile ground for Trump’s emotional campaign.
Despite being dismissed by most pundits, journalists and the political Establishment, Donald Trump did win. He beat the best politicians we have. Beat them all soundly.
We continually misunderestimated Trump and continue to do so.
A month ago I wrote that it’s time to give President-elect Trump a chance to be president. We should Support Trump when he does things that are good for the Republic and are Conservative and we call should continue to call out Trump, and anyone, when they propose or do something we don’t care for that doesn’t support limited government and liberty.
Trump is assembling what appears to be the most Conservative cabinet I can remember. He is appointing people who are capable to carry out many things Trump said he would do when he announced his candidacy and in his plans for his presidency. Some of those are folks we have long supported.
Nevertheless we still misunerestimate Trump.
To me the tone of some of the criticism of the President-elect is now too harsh. We need to remain skeptical. but less belligerent, become more “hostile” in the traditional press sense — as a check on power.
With a unified government there is an opportunity to get a lot of good things done. Conservatives should be part of that effort. We need to get beyond what we don’t like about Trump the person, and focus instead on working for our Conservative principles. If we are not able to that, I fear we will become less relevant.
I’m not saying our criticism of Trump was wrong. And I don’t think we should say we were wrong or apologize for our past criticism. That would make us more irrelevant.
With those caveats, we need to stop misunderestimating Trump and give him and his presidency a chance.