Trump’s Cultural Optics

Here is Victor Davis Hanson on the Trumps “cultural optics”:

Every movement president is soon accused of selling out to the establishment and drowning in Washington’s permanent and deep swamp.

“Let Reagan be Reagan” was an early lamentation of conservatives, fearing their godhead was being watered down by Jim Baker and diluted by George H.W. Bush centrists.

Bill Clinton used to trot Hillary Clinton out to play the flaming campus progressive of old to quiet rumors that an evil pollster Dick Morris—promoting liberal heresies such as school uniforms and “100,000 new policemen”—had snuck in the service entry to the White House to brainwash Clinton back to the center.

Few diehard Obama zealots in summer 2008 ever imagined that by February 2009 there would be party hacks like a Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Usually first-term and formerly ideological presidents are accused of backsliding to the center, to avoid midterm disasters, to ensure reelection, and to get something done in Washington.

Trump is now accused of following the same script.

So is it dangerous for a movement president to recalibrate?

It depends.

If the economy is growing, the answer is probably not.

After Reagan’s 7% plus GDP growth in 1984, few Reaganites worried about his ideological apostasies.

Once Clinton cut deals with the Republican House, and got the deficits down and GDP up, Democrats enjoyed the momentum far more than how it was obtained.

Trump for now is on a roll. He’s handled well visits from foreign leaders like Egyptian Military Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. His appointments remain stellar. Neil Gorsuch will be an inspired Supreme Court judge. The economy seems to be reawakening. His one-off strike at WMD depots in Syria mostly won praise. Even Trump’s wild tweets, from his take on Swedish terrorism to “White House” “tapping” reflect cunning as much as laxity, and if not literally accurate in their details, often approximated reality.

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