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Transition to Trump: How Mike Pence is already paying dividends for Trump world

Last summer, a few weeks before the Republican convention was set to begin in Cleveland, speculation was rampant in political circles as to who the always unpredictable Donald Trump would name as his running mate. Some argued he should choose Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio for the job simply because it would serve as an olive branch to conservatives and help to unite the party at the same time.

Others suggested Trump should go with John Kasich as a nod to the GOP establishment whose help the Mike Pence“experts” swore he’d need in order to not only unite the party but also win the election (because Kasich was governor of the key state of Ohio).

Still others believed Trump should select a complete outsider “dark horse” candidate like an army general or even another business aficionado, reasoning it would solidify his credentials as someone who could come in and drain the DC swamp.

Then there were those who pushed for Mike Pence. As governor of Indiana and a fairly soft supporter of Cruz during the primaries, Pence was the right fit ideologically, had an impressive resume and perhaps most importantly of all, the right mild temperament to contrast with the bombastic Trump.

History will likely see the selection of Pence as a crucial final piece of the puzzle for the successful Trump ticket. And the vice-president elect will continue to be vital to Trump’s efforts to get things done as president. Pence’s role has already been partially defined.

Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reports, “Vice-president elect Mike Pence is preparing to become the top liaison between President-elect Trump and Congress, a role that many lawmakers see as critical, and one that will require Pence to do everything from negotiating his directives in the House and Senate to interpreting Trump's tweets...

“With a little more than two weeks to go until he's sworn in as vice president, Pence is already serving as chief Trump translator. During a closed-door meeting with House GOP lawmakers on Wednesday, Pence explained to lawmakers a series of cryptic healthcare policy tweets Trump posted to Twitter, softening the president-elect's seemingly out-of-the-blue warning that the GOP repeal the healthcare law in a ‘careful’ manner that does not leave people stranded.”

I’ll admit, the news that Mike Pence will be a day-to-day presence on Capitol Hill eases many of my remaining concerns about Trump as president. As the ultimate populist, Trump has been known to sway back and forth on a number of topics, often throwing out ideas and solutions that on their face would seem to be contradictory in search of the right popular fit.

Take for example Trump’s evolved position on Planned Parenthood. As a relatively recent convert to the pro-life cause Trump has said many times he would do everything possible to severely restrict if not ban legal abortion, even suggesting at one time that women who opt for the procedure should be “punished.” (Note: Trump almost immediately took it back after he said it.)

But then there have been other occasions where Trump complimented Planned Parenthood and said the nation’s top abortion provider “does good things” for women’s health.

Where there appears to be gaps in Trump’s stated positions it seems clear Pence will be there to fill them in with sound conservative principles and a limited government worldview. It was reported last summer for instance that Trump was initially seeking a vice president to handle domestic and foreign policy – basically everything -- while he himself would take charge of “making America great again.”

Well, it appears Trump has found his man – Mike Pence has proven to be the perfect choice for the VP spot.

That’s not to say Trump’s other nominees for his administration have been a notch below in quality. Far from it. In fact, Trump is filling the White House with seasoned professionals who will help him fulfill his promise to “make America great again.”

Alexis Simendinger of Real Clear Politics reports, “Donald Trump made it official Wednesday: The incoming senior White House staff will have a deep bench of aides steeped in politics, including staff members pulled from the Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign.

“In 14 days, the businessman-turned-president will rely on a mix of mostly young political operatives and communicators whose focus will be on the agenda, messaging and business style he favored last year and in the weeks since his November victory.

“Trump also added former aides who served President George W. Bush to help manage the operations of the executive office of the president, as well as presidential travel, security and event planning…”

In other words, there’s a mixture of new blood and experienced political operators, all gathered together to advance the new president’s outsider “drain the swamp” mission. There appear to be just enough establishment folks to keep the GOP blue bloods happy and with Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway working closely with the president on a regular if not daily basis, conservatives are generously represented as well.

With Mike Pence keeping a close watch on Congress, everything seems to be in place for a very successful run at “making America great again.”

The weeks and months ahead are going to be filled with exhilarating change and some intense public relations battles with the Washington establishment and Democrats. For many of us, it’s a fight we’ve been waiting years to wage.

(Note: Trump also named his director of national intelligence on Thursday, former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats.)

Jeff Sessions will survive confirmation with his name and reputation intact

As if it wasn’t clear already from Donald Trump’s words and actions during the presidential campaign season, the president-elect’s decision to add many of Jeff Sessions’ key staffers to his White House team just goes to show once again how high in esteem the Alabama senator is held in Trump world.

The fact Trump tapped Sessions to be his administration’s Attorney General is another clue, of course. Sessions’ confirmation hearings begin next Tuesday and they’re bound to be contentious. The Democrats will throw everything they have at Sessions to try and find something that sticks – especially accusing him of racism. It isn’t likely to work.

Fellow Alabamian Quin Hillyer writes at National Review, “The Democratic senators know that Sessions is no racist. Their voters know that Sessions is no racist. And their voters know that their senators know he is no racist. In fact, as they see Sessions handle himself with courtesy and dignity during next week’s confirmation hearings, those red-state voters will resent, strongly, any attempt to join with NAACP occupiers in smearing the Alabaman.

“If the best evidence the Left can concoct against Sessions relies on discredited allegations more than three decades old, and if the Left ignores Sessions’s spotless record in public life ever since, the Left will fail, soundly. Any red-state senator who tries to play the race card against Sessions will find himself trumped (or Trumped), decisively, at the ballot box in 2018.”

The Republicans’ most effective defense for racism charges against Sessions could be endorsements of the Alabama senator from black Democrats who have worked with him in the past – and from statements they’ve made about his honest nature.

Hillyer includes several examples of their praise, such as that from Perry County Commissioner Albert Turner Jr, who said in a statement, “I have known Senator Sessions for many years, beginning with the voter fraud case in Perry County in which my parents were defendants. My differences in policy and ideology with him do not translate to personal malice. He is not a racist. As I have said before, at no time then or now has Jeff Sessions said anything derogatory about my family.”

Most of the Democrat Senate leadership is also on record saying nice things about the ability to work with Sessions over the years. They’re going to look awful foolish next week if and when they attempt to depict him as a sheet-wearing, cross-burning hooded monster from the Jim Crow past.

With several red state Democrats (along with the votes of 52 Senate Republicans) feeling the pressure to confirm Sessions, he’ll likely get through. But will his reputation survive too?

That’s a tougher call. Rich Lowry writes in Politico, “[I]f Sessions harbored the views attributed him by his critics they would presumably have had some concrete evidence of it over the past 30 years of his public life. Usually, what his detractors say is that he considers the Voting Rights Act overly intrusive — but so does a majority of the United States Supreme Court.

“The characteristic line after an experience like Sessions had in 1986 is, ‘Where do I go to get my reputation back?’ The answer is that you don’t get it back. The charge of racism is too powerful and convenient for the left ever to recant, as Sessions will learn next week, once again.”

I’m not so sure Lowry’s correct. The charges of racism against Sessions thirty years ago didn’t have any merit and it’s even truer today. It seems clear that the bigger the “sideshow” the Democrats put on in trying to kill Sessions’ nomination the more their own reputations will suffer in the eyes of an already skeptical public towards the antics of the minority party.

Simply put, it ain’t 1986 anymore. Democrats’ blatant attempts at “gaslighting” aren’t going to work on Sessions or any of Trump’s other nominees this year. But it will be entertaining to watch them try.

Too bizarre not to be true – some Democrats still weighing objections to the Electoral College vote

With just two weeks to go until Donald Trump and Mike Pence take the oath of office on Inauguration Day, most reasonable people probably believe objections over the historic 2016 election have finally come to an end.

If you’re one of those who thought this, you might be wrong.

Kyle Cheney of Politico reports, “Several House Democrats are weighing a formal challenge to Donald Trump’s election on Friday, when Congress meets in joint session to certify Trump’s Electoral College victory...

“Members have the right to lodge those protests when Congress officially counts the electoral votes on Friday. But for the protests to have any effect on the proceedings, they’ll need to secure the backing of at least one senator, and it’s unclear whether any Senate Democrats are weighing a similar challenge.”

Cheney added that the members considering the naked publicity stunt are Reps. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, Bobby Scott of Virginia, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a who’s who of the disgruntled out-of-touch clown show that is today’s Democrat House caucus. Nancy Pelosi said she’s even considering adding her name to the pile.

I would think this group would be able to find at least one Democrat Senator to go along, since there are a number of good candidates whose sanity is already in question. How about Bernie Sanders? Such an action would only cement Sanders’ vaunted place in leftist nutcase lore.

California Senator Barbara Boxer would have been another good possibility (she protested in 2005, after all), but she just retired. Maybe her replacement, brand new Senator Kamala Harris will follow in her footsteps.

The Democrats already realize they have no chance to change the outcome of the Electoral College vote with their scheme, but in doing so, “the challenges could delay the certification of Trump’s victory for hours while the House and Senate separately debate the merits of each protested electoral college vote.”

This is tragic.

The Constitution was devised by serious men in serious times, people who were intent on creating a governing structure where representatives and senators would debate laws and public measures in the best interests of the People. Someone needs to tell me, is that what the Democrats look like today?

The Electoral College voted on December 19. Trump received 304 votes, thirty-four more than necessary to secure the presidency. All the leftist hoopla on that day – organized and otherwise – failed to make any difference whatsoever.

The Democrats involved with this travesty said they were considering the protest due to possible Russian involvement in the election and get this -- voter suppression. What terrific justification for delaying the work of the people for hours…

Regardless of what the loony Democrats decide to do on a possible Electoral College challenge, Donald Trump will prevail. He won over the voters in the right states according to the rules of the game and will become president on January 20.

All the rest is just the type of Democrat blather we can expect for years to come.

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