Rarely, if ever, have so many presidential winners and losers been so incessantly chatty.
Hillary Clinton – who lost the 2016 election, in case you weren’t sure – is on a book tour with her campaign memoir, “What Happened.” (Hint: She’s a woman, the Comey letter.)
Donald Trump – who is still campaigning despite having won – is chatting up Democrats to try to get something done. Anything! By week’s end, he was recanting every mean thing he ever said about illegal immigrants and was softening his vow to send Dreamers (children brought here by their parents) back to their point of conception.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama, who already had his turn but can’t quite quit the presidency, is still talking.
Finally, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who lost the Democratic nomination to Clinton, is still running and still ranting about Medicare for everyone. Given the likely eventuality of a single-payer health care system, he and Larry David may as well take a victory lap. It’s beginning to seem that Sanders won after all. As did the Democrats.
On the losing side are the Republicans who put their faith in a guy who promised the moon but has managed only to deliver a galaxy of tweets and several significant staff replacements. Trump the Republican was always a strain to credulity, but people can make themselves believe just about anything, as thousands of years of ritual sacrifice and snake dances confirm. Trump the salesman has always known this, either instinctively or as the result of his first successful con.
There are two things to know about con artists: One, they’re having fun; two, once a bluffer tastes the sweet satisfaction of scamming a sucker – one’s born every minute, you know – he can’t stop. Once The Donald realized people would buy his brand of unction, he couldn’t resist. No matter what he said or did, people of good (and not so good) faith donned their protective glasses and refused to see.
Trump was never ideologically driven, though he did surround himself with ideologues as helpmates. Or were they the biggest suckers of all?
This thought finally began to take shape when Trump recently met with the enemy – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Depending on whose version one prefers, they discussed making a deal on both the future of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants and what Trump called “extreme security.”
Almost instantly, Breitbart slapped Trump with a headline and a nickname: “Amnesty Don.” How quickly Steve Bannon shape-shifted from former senior White House policy adviser and Trump’s personal Pravda to his antagonist. Other Republicans, presumably speaking for the base, declared Trump’s presidency kaput.
Then again, maybe Trump decided it was time to get something done. Maybe hidden deep within, he has a heart. Or, more likely, he saw polls saying that most Americans think children brought here not of their own accord should be allowed to stay in the country where they grew up.
Maybe he gets his wall in the process, maybe not. But what seems increasingly clear is that, while Clinton tries to purge her demons by explaining how she lost, Trump is busy fashioning a perfect world for Democrats to prevail. Which is to say, he may get more accomplished for the Democratic Party than Clinton could have with a Republican-dominated Congress.
Consider: Immigration reform is beginning to look a lot less Draconian and a lot more Pope-ish. Bannon, a Catholic, notably remarked during a recent “60 Minutes” interview that the church has been “terrible” on immigration, encouraging forgiveness rather than wall-building, because, he said, it needs illegal immigrants to fill the pews. Such a charmer, that one.
Also, the wall is not, in fact, getting built, though repairs are currently being made to existing wall-like structures. Ditto health care, which, instead of being repealed and replaced, likely will be an Obamacare fix, followed by a single-payer system that Democrats wanted all along and that Trump supported before he became a “Republican.”
Thus, it would seem that Democrats really won the election and that President Trump, despite his faux-angry campaign promises, is a pretty good Democrat after all. Congratulations, Mr. President, on your best performance yet. Congratulations are also owed to former President Obama, whose chief legacy survives. Congratulations, Sen. Sanders: Your day is nigh.
Finally, congratulations, Madame Secretary: Everybody knows you won, as well as why you lost. You get the last word, a great haircut, and you didn’t have to take the worst job in the world. Not a bad day’s work.
Kathleen Parker is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.
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