News flash: Donald Trump is divisive. Not exactly shocking stuff, is it? Trump, the first U.S. president to not come from a political or military background, did things his way, not the Beltway’s. That grated Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. He still feels he got the job done — and to a large extent, the results speak for themselves. A conservative Supreme Court, record low unemployment before COVID lockdowns, inflation under control, and reconfigured trade agreements are all a testament to Trump. Nothing is perfect, but anyone who thought America was entering an irrecoverable tailspin after the election which called for The Donald in 2016 was sorely mistaken. However, nobody will deny he broke a few Beltway eggs to make that omelette, and he broke them gladly. So, now that he’s running again in 2024, who would be surprised that some of Trump’s former hires don’t hold a particularly favorable view of the guy — and, in some cases, are running against him? Fox News’ Bret Baier is apparently surprised. Baier, who had a sit-down interview with the former president and 2024 GOP frontrunner that aired Monday, took issue with one of his quotes from the 2016 presidential race: “I’m going to surround myself with only the best and most serious people.” “Well, I did do that,” Trump responded. “That’s tremendous. Look, we had the best economy we’ve ever had, the world has ever seen.” Baier was less impressed: “This time, your Vice President Mike Pence is running against you. Your ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, she’s running against you. Your former secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said he’s not supporting you,” Baier said. “You mentioned National Security Advisor John Bolton. He’s not supporting you either. You mentioned Attorney General Bill Barr — says you shouldn’t be president again. Calls you ‘the consummate narcissist’ and ‘troubled man.’ You recently called Barr a ‘gutless pig.’ “Your second defense secretary is not supporting you — called you irresponsible. This week, you called your White House Chief of Staff John Kelly ‘weak and ineffective’ and ‘born with a very small brain.’ You called your acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney a ‘born loser,’” Baier continued. Etc., etc.:
“So why did you hire them?” Baier asked. “I hired 10 to 1 that were fantastic,” Trump told Baier. “We had a great economy. We had phenomenal people in charge of the economy. We had phenomenal people in the military. I’m not a fan of Milley, and I’m not a fan of certain of the television people, but I knocked out ISIS. I defeated ISIS. They said, ‘Mattis, it would take three years, and I don’t think we can do it.’ I did it in a period of like four weeks,” he continued. “Don’t forget, for every one you say I had 10 that love us.” If this is what counts as “gotcha” in Baier’s world, he’s going to have to try a little bit harder than that. Before the annus horribilis of 2020, the Trump administration functioned more or less as any other administration did, with both successes and failures. Particularly on the economy and in the judiciary, those successes were rousing. [firefly_poll] Did the former president fight with high-profile Beltway creatures like Barr, Bolton, Haley, Kelly, Mattis, Milley and Pence, and do so quite openly? Yes — and more so, he did it with relish. His campaign chant was literally “Drain the Swamp.” For the most part, those figures had at least one foot dipped in said swamp — and they weren’t about to take it out, lest they be left out of the power loop. If Baier thought he was going to embarrass Donald Trump by confronting him with a list of professional Washingtonians, the Fox News anchor is apparently suffering from retrograde amnesia that began on Jan. 20, 2021. One hopes he seeks the medical help he requires posthaste. As for Trump, just because he is running against several of his former administration officials and because other top hires have opposed his run doesn’t mean that he didn’t surround himself “with only the best and most serious people.” After all, an administration has thousands of employees, most of whom are anonymous, as far as the media is concerned. As for those at the top, sometimes — particularly if you’re the pugnacious sort as a chief executive — you’ll also have to fire the “best and most serious people,” even if they have a high profile. Or, given how the media and how reputation in Washington works, it could have been in their best interest to leave on their own and distance themselves from Trump as a springboard to higher political ambitions. Yet, this has long been a liberal knock on Trump: That somehow, employee turnover at the top is the judge of an administration’s strength. Now, apparently, Fox News Light (the Bud Light of conservative media, at least at the moment) feels it’s an accurate gauge of how a president is doing. It’s not. Peace abroad, fiscal discipline and economic prosperity at home, and success in executing the White House’s political agenda are the barometers by which we judge a president. Under Trump, Russia, China and North Korea were more or less under control. At least before the pandemic, economic growth was high and unemployment and inflation were low. On the judicial front, Trump is responsible for the Supreme Court that dealt a death blow to Roe v. Wade. Biden has had the same Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense since he took office. Russia is now at war with Ukraine, and China sent a spy balloon over the continental United States; this isn’t even mentioning Beijing’s designs on Taiwan. Biden has had the same attorney general since he took office. The DOJ is now in the business of prosecuting the main political opposition for something not materially dissimilar from what the president himself did, something which usually happens in countries with leaders like Daniel Ortega, Robert Mugabe or — dare we speak his name? — Vladimir Putin. Biden has had the same Secretary of the Treasury since he took office. Inflation still remains a millstone weighing upon every Middle American family — but hey, at least she hasn’t quit or been fired, right? He’s had the same Secretary of Homeland Security since day one; the border crisis hasn’t abated. He has the same Secretary of Transportation since day one; no end in sight to supply-chain woes, but Mayor Pete is tearing down racist roads. But Trump appointees at the top of his administration had beef with the president and left, so none of the last administration’s accomplishments count? Yeah, that’s not quite how it works. When egos clash, sparks fly, but if it doesn’t affect what gets done — or, even, leads to creative conflict — trying to make this into a negative for the former president doesn’t fly, particularly when you compare his first two years with Biden’s first two years. I’m not sure how accurate that “10 to 1” figure cited by the former president is — but the point is that his loyal base stayed and made things work, and work very well. Trump promised to surround himself “with only the best and most serious people.” He shuffled them around not infrequently, sometimes parting on bitter terms. Biden has done no such reshuffle, even as a multitude of crises continue unabated. Are we supposed to commend the second president’s approach while condemning the first’s? Is that where America is as a nation when it picks its leaders? Bret Baier certainly seems to think so. If he’s not alone, no wonder we’re in this mess. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
LOL omg pic.twitter.com/jwBAMvhLMl— Acyn (@Acyn) June 19, 2023