Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Right Theme Song for a New Era

Throughout his history-making campaign, the president-elect concluded each tumultuous rally on the same puzzling note: playing the Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want', with a slow, angelic chorus pronouncing the words as if they represented holy writ.

Looking back after Mr. Trump's astonishing triumph, this may have been a prescient choice.

 People I know who supported Trump did so with reservations, admitting the lewd, crude excess of his Access Hollywood tape, aggressive and litigious business dealings, 20-year lapse paying taxes, and propensity to insult opponents and critics detracted from his qualifications for the nation's highest office.

But they thought Hillary was worse.

Similarly, those who supported Hillary acknowledged that her Benghazi attack bungle, smirched early legal career, Clinton Foundation questions, potentially dangerous handling of emails, plus Bill's proclivities that brought him impeachment, made her a less-than-ideal candidate.

But they thought Trump was worse.

Both sides liked many of their candidates' positions. Trump fans liked his uncensored directness, his protection of our trade interests and stand against terrorists. Hillary supporters admired her concern for struggling groups, commitment to affordable education, and diplomatic expertise. And that she'd break the glass ceiling.

You can't always get what you want. Even those who went wild for Trump, while ecstatic Hillary won't be our leader, are a little nervous about whether or not their man will--or should--go ahead with all the proposals he made on the campaign trail.

Pres.-elect Trump's promises: An 80-foot wall paid for by Mexico? Since 2006, we've had the "Secure Fence Act" that requires a barrier along our southern border to curtail illegal immigration. It's been stymied by landowners' resistance and environmental concerns.

Stand back from NATO? Trump won't save allies unless they kick in toward our costs to defend them, but Article 5 of the NATO treaty requires us to protect them.

Remake or revoke trade deals? Mr. Trump says China's killing us, but the American companies that rely on Chinese materials, and consumers who love cheap products, don't want the huge tariffs Trump proposes that would foment a trade war.

How about the Iran deal Trump says he'll tear up on his first day? He could (and should) do more to stop Iran's nuclear weapons-building, but Iran says the deal is with the UN Security Council and no single country can invalidate it.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare? Trump could de-fund the ACA, eviscerating it, and allow plan purchases across state lines, to increase competition. But insurance companies will fold unless they charge enough to cover services, so negotiating particulars of that word "replace" could end up with little advantage.

You can't always get what you want.

A Good Deal requires Concessions. Pres. Trump's operating style might keep him from delivering on his promises. He says everything's a "deal" and if the US has a bad one, we dump it and demand better. But negotiation requires giving as well as taking, and the parties we're approaching won't just cave to Trump's terms without concessions or benefits. If Mr. Trump has his way, we'll prevail and others will cower. Unfortunately, on the world stage, if others displease, you can't sue.


Trump at victory speech. (Imitating Alec Baldwin?)
A major factor that retarded support for Mr. Trump was his verbal attacks on others (GOP primary opponents, Indiana-born Hispanic judge, fallen American Muslim soldier, Chancellor of Germany, beauty queen who gained weight, Senator tortured as a prisoner-of-war, etc.)

Every American hopes that Pres. Trump will succeed in increasing jobs and prosperity, fortifying us against terrorism, and strengthening our national unity. His conciliatory election victory speech gives hope that he might eschew his scurrilous verbiage for more positive pronouncements. And I wish he'd occasionally smile. A nice, toothy grin.

So far, except when addressing clergy, Mr. Trump has yet to express gratitude to God, reference scripture, or even close a stump-speech with "God bless America." And yet, he has everything to be grateful for, including the most support from Evangelicals of any candidate, ever. It is my hope that as he takes on this most consequential of responsibilities, he is conscious of an obligation not only to the American people, but to the One who oversees us all.

It could be a message from on High: You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes...you get what you need.

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