Monday, February 20, 2017

Trump's First Month

"I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done," declared President Donald Trump in his news conference last week. It is hard to dispute that statement given the unprecedented confusion that has plagued the Trump administration during its first month.  

So far, the Trump transition has been ineptly problematic.  The incompetent rolling out of Trump's travel ban, which appeared to target Muslims, caused enormous chaos at the nation's airports.  The intensified rounding up of immigrants illegally in the U.S. has been heartless and perplexing.  The shaky efforts to "repeal and immediately replace" the Affordable Care Act have mobilized thousands of Obamacare supporters to protest at town halls throughout the country.

Perhaps no president has generated as many widespread global protests against his administration in so little time.   Thousands of protesters took to the streets across America Monday for "Not My President's Day" rallies against Trump's policies.  The opposition covered a wide range of issues, including immigration, women's reproductive rights and climate change.  History was made on the day following Trump's inauguration when an estimated 2.6 million people protested Trump in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 different countries.

Protests overseas against the president  have attracted huge crowds.  President Trump's intention to visit England has activated large protests.  More than 1.85 million people have signed a petition entitled "Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom."  The petition claimed that the president's vulgar comments about women would "cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen."  As the British Parliament debated whether to withdraw an invitation to the president extended by their prime minister during her recent visit, thousands of protesters rallied outside. 

Trump caused confusion and hard feelings in Sweden when at a Florida rally he called attention to "what is happening last night in Sweden."  The reference was at best oblique, but Trump later tweeted it was the result of a Fox News report linking that country's increase in crime to its acceptance of asylum seekers.  The Swedish embassy responded on Twitter, "We look forward to informing the US administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies."

Trump's praise of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his frequent criticism of NATO, both running counter to long-standing U.S. policy, have unsettled European allies.  There have been persistent reports that the Trump administration will ease sanctions on Russia relating to its illegal annexation of Crimea and military actions in Ukraine.  This weekend, Vice President Mike Pence attempted to reassure allies.  Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Pence said, "Know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground which as you know President Trump believes can be found." 

During a January appearance at CIA headquarters, Trump suggested that the U.S. should have seized the oil during its 2003 invasion of Iraq. "We should have kept the oil," he said, "But okay.  Maybe we'll have another chance."   This played right into the propaganda claims of Mideast opponent's who have always charged that the U.S. only wants the oil.  On his way to Iraq, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters, "We're not going to seize anybody's oil."   He added, "All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and I am sure we will continue to do so in the future." 

Trump has tried to divert attention away from his rocky presidency by blaming the press--a stunt he utilized regularly during his campaign.  Last week Trump tweeted, "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"   Defense Secretary Mattis disagreed with his boss, saying, "The press, as far as I'm concerned, are a constituency that we deal with, and I don't have any issues with the press myself."   Vice President Pence said he supports a free and independent press while in Brussels.  He added, "But you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when they play fast and loose with the facts."  Calling out the media is one thing, but declaring it to be the enemy is outrageous.  In Thomas Jefferson's words, "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press."

In his news conference last week, Trump said, "This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine." But Trump lives in an alternate reality filled with alternative facts.  His popularity ratings are at an historic low for an incoming president since such polls have been taken.  

If this were a television show, the title would be, "The Apprentice goes to Washington."   

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Trump: The Art of the Deal?

The resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is just the beginning.  Flynn resigned following a Washington Post report that he privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with its ambassador to the United States in the weeks prior to President Donald Trump taking office.  The sanctions had been imposed by the Obama administration because Russia had meddled with the 2016 election.  Flynn had reportedly urged that Russia not overreact to the sanctions indicating they would be revisited at a later time.  

Flynn has been one of Trump's closest advisers for more than a year.  It is hard to believe that Trump had no knowledge of Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador.  Democrats are asking for answers.  "We in Congress need to know who authorized his actions, permitted them and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing the risks," Representatives John Conyers Jr. and Elijah E. Cummings said in a joint statement.  "We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to out national security." 

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed the Trump White House last month that she believed Flynn had mislead administration officials about the content of his conversation with the Russian ambassador and was vulnerable to blackmail.  Yates was subsequently fired when she announced she would not enforce Trump's travel ban.  Flynn continued his role atop Trump's national security team, and told Vice President Mike Pence that he did not discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador.  Pence subsequently defended Flynn in a series of appearances on public affairs programs.   

In his resignation letter Monday Flynn wrote, "Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador.  I have sincerely apologized to the President and Vice President, and they have accepted my apology."

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer addressed Flynn's firing at his press briefing Tuesday.  "This is not an illegal issue, but a trust issue," he said.   Spicer explained that the president had been immediately informed of the situation, and that Flynn's conversation with the Russian ambassador was subjected to a legal review and "there was no issue with that."  He added, "It came down to a matter of trust...misleading the vice president and others...once that occurred it was over."  The president asked for Flynn's resignation.  Spicer also noted that the president had been "tough on Russia...and had called for Russia to deescalate the violence in Ukraine and to return Crimea."   

To date President Trump has been reluctant to publicly criticize Russia and President Vladimir Putin.  There have been reports that U.S. intelligence agencies have recently been withholding information from Oval Office briefings, "amid fears the Kremlin has ears inside the White House situation room."

For his part, President Trump Tweeted Tuesday morning, "The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?  Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N. Korea etc?"   In his briefing, Spicer amplified the president's concern, stating, "The president is clearly upset about this and views it as a threat to national security."   We will never know what would have happened with Flynn had the issue not been leaked to the press.  

Republican Senator John McCain said Tuesday, "I think there is significant dysfunction in the national security apparatus of the Trump administration."  Republican Senator Roy Blunt on Tuesday called for an exhaustive investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump administration.  "The Senate Intelligence Committee...should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of the process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned," he said.   Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for an "independent and transparent investigation," noting that the White House counsel cannot lead an investigation, nor can Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is a political appointee.   In a statement, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "The American people deserve to know the full extent of Russia's financial, personal and political grip on President Trump and what it means for our national security."   

In late 2016, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence completed a report detailing Russian interference in November's election.   The report concluded, "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered and influence campaign aimed at the US presidential election.  Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Hillary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency."   President-elect Trump rejected the report saying Democrats were over reacting to their loss.  On December 29, President Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats expelled from the U.S. and broadened existing Russian sanctions.  Rather than the usual tit-for-tat response, President Putin inexplicably said he would not immediately react to the U.S. actions.  President-elect Trump praised Putin's response.  

Flynn's resignation is just the latest chapter in this evolving story. Would Flynn discuss easing Russian sanctions without the president's advance knowledge?  Was Flynn directed to have the discussion?   Is Flynn just the scapegoat for an inappropriate Trump initiative to return a favor to Putin?   Is this what Trump would call "The Art of the Deal"?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

President Trump's Chaotic Start

After two weeks in office it has become clear that President Donald Trump is not going to change his impulsive and narcissistic ways. As a result, political leaders from both parties in Washington, as well as American allies around the world, are unsettled with the abnormal and unpredictable behavior coming from the president and they are beginning to speak out.

Powerful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admonished the president in an interview on CNN Sunday for his Twitter attack on the federal judge who temporarily stopped Trump's travel ban.  "It is best not to single out judges," McConnell said. "We all get disappointed from time to time.  I think it is best to avoid criticizing them individually."  The Kentucky Republican said he would not consider legislation to institute the travel ban, adding, "I think proper vetting is important, but there is a fine line here between proper vetting and interfering with the kind of travel or suggesting a religious test."

McConnell also contradicted Trump's allegation that there was massive voter fraud in last November's election, a charge the president has repeated even though he was elected.  "There is no evidence it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election," McConnell said.  "And I don't think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that."  

McConnell also responded to comments Trump made in an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly in which Trump said he respected Russian President Vladimir Putin.  O'Reilly followed up, noting, "Putin is a killer."  Trump replied, "There are a lot of killers.  We have a lot of killers.  Well, you think our country is so innocent?"  McConnell told CNN, "(Putin's) a former KGB agent, a thug, not elected in a way most people consider to be a credible election."  Republican Senator Marco Rubio also responded to Trump, Tweeting, "When has a Democratic political activist been poisoned by the GOP, or vice versa?  We are not the same as Putin." 

Trump's comments about Putin seem particularly jarring when compared to his treatment of American allies.  Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto found himself sparring with Trump over the border wall that the president promised to build and have Mexico pay for.  The result was the cancellation of a face-to-face White House meeting and a long phone conversation in which both leaders agreed to stop quarreling over the subject.  Trumps border wall tirades have rallied the Mexican people behind their unpopular president.  

Australia has been a fervent and loyal American ally for decades. In an interview over the weekend with 60 Minutes Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described his phone conversation with Trump as "the worst call ever."  Turnbull had informed the president of a deal brokered with President Barack Obama to take 1250 refugees, largely Iranians and Iraqis, that Australia had been criticized for holding off shore.  "It's a deal obviously that President Trump has said he wouldn't have entered into, but he is committed to honor it."   Following the call Trump Tweeted, "Do you believe it?  The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia.  Why?  I will study this dumb deal."  Of course they are not "illegal" and it wasn't "thousands."  A senior administration official later explained that Trump was concerned that the deal was going to hurt him politically.  

Trump's erratic behavior has even left many people in senior positions within the administration confused.   As a result, they are selectively leaking stories to the press.  Trump gets a lot of his information from television, so some leakers may be trying to get their views across to the president.  

There has never been a presidential transition like this in American history.  Amidst the flurry of executive orders, cabinet deliberations and early morning Tweets since Trump took office there is a sense of chaos and a palpable mood of uncertainty about what will come next.   On Sunday afternoon Trump renewed his attack on the judge who blocked the travel ban.  "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such in such peril" he said on Twitter.  "If something happens blame him and the court system.  People pouring in. Bad!" 

Is this all the way you will make America great again Mr. President?  Really?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Thank You President Barack Obama

"This is your victory," President Barack Obama said in his 2008 victory speech given at a time when the country was in the worst economic recession in decades, with unemployment soaring, the financial markets near total collapse, and the country immersed with two costly foreign wars.  

He inherited a dispirited and scared nation consumed with uncertainty and fear.  But his message to the quarter million people gathered in Chicago's Grant Park, and tens of millions Americans watching on television, was one of hope.  "The road ahead will be long.  Our climb will be steep," he said.  "We may not get there in one year or even one term.  But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there."

Many of those who voted for President Obama, the nation's first African American president, were seeking change.  The government in Washington was failing, the political system was broken, and big money had too much influence.  Manufacturing jobs were fleeing the country, millions of Americans had no health care, and the middle class was shrinking.  America's place in the world was diminishing, terrorists cast a shadow over daily life, and U.S. soldiers were dying in two distant wars that seemed interminable.  

President Obama's message of hope, his intelligence, his thoughtfulness, his incredibly positive demeanor, his decency, his integrity, his fine character, his grace under pressure, his equanimity and good temperament are traits that he lived by every day.  

Many challenges faced this president.  At the moment he was sworn in for his first term, the Republican leadership agreed to block every initiative, law, or action the president proposed.  They proclaimed they wanted to make him a one-term president. Members of Congress, right wing radio talk show hosts and a New York real estate mogul constantly questioned President Obama's religion, citizenship and character.  The attempts to delegitimize the president were disgusting and demeaning, and they added fuel to a very combustible situation created by those motivated by their own self-interests.  

No president has been perfect.  Every president makes mistakes, some more than others.  History will ultimately be the judge of Obama's presidency.  But, despite the challenges, he leaves office with many accomplishments.  He was a truly consequential president.  

President Obama saved the country from the Great Recession.  He saved the auto industry.  Unemployment fell from nearly 10% to 4.7% during his presidency, and the stock market has nearly tripled (almost all of it before his successor was elected).   He extended health insurance to 20 million Americans, dramatically slowed the growth of health care costs, and made it possible for those with pre-existing health conditions to get insurance.  President Obama supported marriage equality, repealed the military's "don't ask-don't tell" policy, signed legislation to combat pay discrimination against women, and signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  He signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act, and he signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act.  The president improved school nutrition programs, boosted fuel efficiency in cars, invested more in Veteran's Affairs, and reduced the homeless rate among veterans by 50%.  He appointed the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

President Obama's administration helped negotiate the historic Paris Climate Treaty.  The president helped negotiate the Iran Nuclear Deal, which includes Russia and our allies.   He ended the war in Iraq, reduced American military presence in Afghanistan, and ordered the capture and killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden.  He reversed Bush-era torture policies, began normalizing relations with Cuba, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.   However, he has been criticized for his policies toward Syria, Russia and the Middle East, three intensely complex and complicated issues with no easy solutions.  

President Obama held his final news conference in the White House pressroom Wednesday, thanking reporters and sending a message to the incoming president about the importance of having the press corps in that location.  "Having you in this building has made this place work better.  It keeps us honest, it makes us work harder," he said.  The president was asked about the election's impact on his daughters.  "What we've also tried to teach them is resilience," he said, "and we've tried to teach them hope and that the only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world."

The president said he plans to take time off with his family, but he will speak about issues he deeply cares about.  "I believe in this country.  I believe in the American people.  I believe that people are more good than bad."  He continued, "If we work hard and if we are true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time.  That's what this presidency has tried to be about."  He concluded, "At my core, I think we're going to be OK.  We just have to fight for it, we have to work at it and not take it for granted." 

Thank you President Obama, this was your victory.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Will Trump be Presidential?

President Elect Donald Trump will be sworn in to office Friday as America's 45th president on the west front of the U.S. Capitol before thousands of supporters and millions watching on television around the world.   The peaceful transition of power will symbolize the strength of the American democracy.  

Perhaps equally important will be what President Trump has to say in his inaugural address.  The nation has been deeply divided for decades by partisan politics; the world has been roiled with regional conflicts and the growing threat of terrorism.  Will the newly sworn-in president speak of his genuine interest of uniting the country, which is rich with diverse cultures and beliefs?  Will he clearly identify the threats, foreign and domestic, facing the nation, and assure even his most strident opponents that he has the temperament and character to lead the country?  

Many of his predecessors used their inaugural address to set a tone for their presidency.  In his first address, President Thomas Jefferson said, "Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.  We have been called by different names brethren of the same principle.  We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists."

Following a great Civil War President Lincoln sought to heal the nation's wounds in his second inaugural address.  "With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds," he said.  "To do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

In his first inaugural address, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke to a nation crippled by the Great Depression.  "This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.  So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," Roosevelt intoned.  "In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with the understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory."

As the nation was still recovering from World War II, it elected a war hero as its president.  In his first inaugural address President Dwight Eisenhower said, "We are summoned to act in wisdom and in conscience, to work with industry, to teach with persuasion, to preach with conviction, to weigh every deed with care and compassion.  For this truth must be clear before us: whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America."   

President John F. Kennedy, who was elected in 1960 in a close election, sought to mobilize young idealistic citizens with his stirring oration.  "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans," he declared.  "The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.  And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."

President Ronald Reagan was elected in a landslide in 1980 as the country was reeling from inflation, high unemployment and gasoline prices, and a crisis of confidence.  "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem," he maintained in his first inaugural address.  "We are a nation that has a government--not the other way around.  And this makes us special among the nations of the earth.  Our government has no power except that granted by the people.  It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed." 

President Barack Obama was the first African American elected to the nation's highest office.  The deeply divided country was mired in two costly wars, was experiencing its worst economic recession in nearly one hundred years, and was split along party lines.  A massive crowd of 1.8 million people attended his swearing in, which was watched by a record audience around the globe.  "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."  He continued, "On this day, we come to proclaim and end to petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for too long have strangled our politics."    

Despite the soaring rhetoric, many presidents were not able to achieve all of their goals.  But President Trump's inaugural speech comes at an important time in this nation's history.  He will face enormous challenges, domestic and foreign.  The election is over, and while he finished second in the popular vote, he won the presidency.   And while the Russians meddled in the election, he was the winner.  

The American presidency is the most powerful office in the world. Now it is time for President Trump to actually govern.   Now it is time for him to end his personal insults, his impulsive and boorish behavior.  Now it is the time for an end to his Twitter rants, or tirades against the press.  Now it is time for him to praise U.S. intelligent agencies and their courageous employees, and to praise America's allies and support its alliances.  

Now it is time for President Trump to act presidential.  Too much is a stake.  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Undoing Obama

On January 20, President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office and he promises to hit the ground running with a flurry of actions that will undo regulations enacted by President Barack Obama.  "Regulations are coming off," he said to the crowd gathered at his New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida retreat.  Republican lawmakers, who will soon control both houses of Congress, have made undoing Obama's legacy their top priority.  

Of course, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is the prime Republican target for repeal.  They have described the law as a disaster, and have charged it has increased health care costs for many individuals and small businesses.  In truth, the ACA track record is more mixed.  Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that repeal would not mean that those receiving health care through the law will lose coverage.   "This has to be done carefully," he said, "It has to be done in a phased-in way over a period of time."  However, it is unclear how Republicans plan to replace the ACA.  

Obamacare has remained unpopular with the American public despite all of the benefits it provides.  About 20 million Americans have health insurance through Obamacare exchanges or Medicaid expansion. Senior citizens pay less for Medicare coverage and prescription drugs under the law.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that repeal of Obamacare would increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over 10 years.  Obamacare totally eliminates the donut hole in Medicare prescription drug coverage by 2020.  All of these costs will be passed on to beneficiaries. Repeal may also mean that children up to 26 would no longer be automatically covered by their family policy, and those with pre-existing health conditions can again be denied health insurance coverage.

Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter Monday, "The GOP wants to dismantle ACA & consequently increase costs.  It's wrong.  It will have an major impact on hardworking families & raise taxes."   She also warned that Republicans want to "dismantle Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid."   Many Republicans are for making changes in all of these programs in order to rein in government costs.  

President-elect Trump and Republicans also want to undo the many regulations President Obama has enacted.   They have their eyes set on the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which includes the "Volcker Rule" that restricts banks from trading for profits.  Dodd-Frank, which was enacted following the 2008 financial crisis, calls for a series of reforms meant to decrease risk in the financial system.   A Trump administration is likely to slow these regulations and rewrite the law.  

Trump will also go after several environmental regulations.  The Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is likely to be repealed.  It calls for a 32 per cent cut in the power sector's carbon emissions by 2030.  The EPA and Army Corps of Engineer's Clean Water Rule is likely to be scrapped.  It makes small waterways, like wetlands and ponds, subject to federal rules much to the ire of many businesses.   The EPA's rule to limit ground-level Ozone, which is largely the byproduct of fossil fuels, is likely not to be strictly enforced under a Trump administration.  And Trump wants to eliminate rules that make hydraulic fracturing more difficult.  

These measures enacted by Obama were all an effort to protect Americans and make the environment safer.  But Trump is a world class self-promoter and businessman whose priority it is to undo Obama's regulations and legacy.  This, he says, will create new jobs and strengthen the economy.  However, many economists say ending regulations has not historically led to a large increase in jobs.  But it sure may help short-term profits for corporations.

This is how Trump will make America great again! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Trump World

America's first post-truth president will be sworn in as the Nation's 45th chief executive at noon eastern time on January 20.  Just exactly what will happen after that seems so far to be unclear, including to his inner circle and supporters.  Trump marches to his own tune. One thing for sure, though, is that the man who has pledged to "Make America Great Again" will be making the Trump brand even greater.

While Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes in November's election, he did win the votes necessary to secure the electoral delegates needed to become president.  He was propelled by a large group of Americans who are fed up with Washington politics because for decades they have been left behind. They had listened and believed all the past promises from red and blue politicians, only to be pushed back into the dark background when the contest was completed.   They were taken for granted again and again.

Many Trump voters came from aggrieved members of the working class who have seen technology and globalization rip their livelihood and self-respect from their soul.  Politicians who busily courted special interests to perpetuate their positions in government regularly ignored their plaintive cries.  For some, Bernie Sanders seemed to be an authentic alternative to the status quo.  But when he was pushed aside by the Democratic political establishment, many of his supporters found Trump appealing.

To many Americans Washington needed a wake up call.  Washington needed to be shaken up.  It was time for a new reality, even if it was a post-truth reality.  The aggrieved turned to a loud, boisterous, politically incorrect, mendacious, prevaricating entertainer-real estate mogul.  Trump appealed to their emotions rather than their minds.  They heard what they wanted to hear, and Trump was their champion.  

A recent PPP national poll found that 67% of Trump voters believe unemployment increased during the Obama presidency, when in fact it sharply declined.  Only 41% of Trump voters say the stock market went up during the Obama administration, meaning most don't know that the market has almost tripled over the past eight years.  And 60% of Trump voters believe Hillary Clinton received millions illegal votes, a lie that Trump has repeated several times since the election.

But does the truth really matter to these aggrieved voters?  Many don't believe that Trump will build a huge wall from one end of the Mexican-U.S. border to the other.  Many don't believe that Mexico will pay for the wall.   They certainly don't believe that Trump will deport all 11 million people who are living in this country illegally.  They certainly don't believe he will ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.  They certainly don't believe Trump saw thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey when New York's World Trade Center was attacked.  They know it was a  lie. They certainly don't believe that Trump will bring back millions of manufacturing jobs as he has promised.  

What do they believe?  They believe Trump will "drain the swamp" of politicians and bring an end to business as usual.  They believe Trump has their backs, that he hears their voices, that he will make their lives better.   They have given the president-elect a pass on releasing his federal tax returns. They have given him a pass on eliminating his many conflicts of interest.  They don't care if he produces a reality television show while in office.  They don't care that he attacks the press, evades serious questions, and regularly communicates via Twitter at all hours of the night.

Some have noted that Trump has appointed wealthy bankers, experienced politicians and retired generals to serve in his administration.  While this seems to contradict his promise to drain the swamp, so far they are giving him the benefit of a doubt.  The fact that Trump and some of his appointees are close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a ruthless and corrupt leader who views America as the enemy, seems not to have resonated with the president elect's supporters.  So much for Ronald Reagan's evil empire!   

Soon Trump will be confronted with the full weight of the responsibilities that fall upon the shoulders of America's president. He will actually have to make decisions.  Will he gradually replace the existing Medicare program, as the Republican platform proposes, with a defined contribution program where seniors will be provided a fixed amount of money to purchase private health insurance of their own?  Will he repeal Obamacare and leave millions of Americans without healthcare?   Will he push to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion?  Will he go ahead with the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline?  He said he would make a decision soon after taking office.

How will President-elect Trump deal with President Putin?  Will he move to ease sanctions on Russia for its occupation of Crimea? Will he impose import tariffs on Chinese products, even if it means higher prices in the U.S., and leads to the cancellation of contracts for Boeing aircraft and other U.S. products?  Will he send U.S. troops into Syria?  Will he implement his secret plan to eliminate ISIS?

According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, a majority of Americans are either uncertain or pessimistic about his presidency. The country that he has vowed to unify remains deeply divided.  For sure, Trump's presidential campaign was unconventional, but he made many enemies, including within the Republican Party. So Trump make think all the world's a stage, and that he can bully and bluster his way through his daily challenges.  However, he will soon find out that the presidency is not just a television show.   

Thomas Jefferson once said, "No man will ever carry out of the Presidency the reputation which carried him into it."  Let's hope so, because America’s future is at stake, and all the world will be watching.