“Trust me. it’s going to be great.” That seemed to be the overall message of President-elect Donald Trump’s first press conference in months as he sets up his imminent presidency. But as Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the modern Republican Party, said, “trust but verify.” And if you felt there would be any hope of much greater transparency from Mr. Trump he continued to maintain that no one cares to see his tax returns.
The headlines out of the press conference may be that Donald Trump finally said that Russia was responsible for the hacking but also said later “it could have been somebody else”. The President-elect handled the entire topic in a casual and offhanded way that suggested that the ends of that hacking may have justified the means. He seemed to cozy up to Vladimir Putin seeking the respect of Russia and cast not only doubts on the American intelligence community who worry about the specter of a foreign power tampering with our elections, he then likened the apparent leaking of the recent “dossier” to “Nazi Germany” – echoing a tweet from this morning. Much of his toughest talk on foreign affairs was fired with escalating rhetoric towards China.
Mr. Trump continued with the usual bluster and slogans of the campaign. But pretty soon the tally for those promises will come do. Great paying jobs and industry coming back to America? We will see. A new health care system that is far better than what we have now? We will see. A massive border wall that Mexico will pay for? We will see. And on and on.
This is the time in any pre-presidency when all the campaign rhetoric is going to start to run into the wall of reality. History shows that governance is in the end often makes as many people unhappy as happy. There are trade-offs and winners and losers. And Mr. Trump will enter office under much lower approval ratings than any president in history. There is this business with Russia that seems to have more suspenses and plot twists than a Hitchcock film. And then there is the press.
It is clear that this will be a combative and completely unorthodox relationship between a pugnacious, gloating, and swaggering president who makes big promises with deep lines in the sand, and a press corps gaining its footing, swelled by ranks of new subscribers worried about the direction of our country, who are eager to hold a President Trump accountable for his words and deeds. Hold on folks, it’s going to be a wild ride.