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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Who better to assess the American mood, Karl Rove or Donald Trump?

It could be said the worst thing about having momentum is the necessity to sustain it. If that’s the case, then the outlook of folks in the Donald Trump administration should be optimistic heading into 2018 and beyond.

Historians will likely diverge sharply on the degree of success Trump achieved in his first year as president but an objective look at his accomplishments should dispel any contemporary notions of ineffectiveness. Trump’s instinctual ability to ignore political naysayers and make moves he felt would “Make America Great Again” led Let Trump do his jobto one of the greatest political triumphant tales of our time.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner wrote pointedly, “Something is happening in the final days of 2017. People are noticing that Donald Trump has gotten a lot done in his tumultuous first year in the White House.

“... If in, say, 2014, a Republican, of either the conservative or moderate variety, predicted that in 2017 a newly-elected GOP president and Congress would —

“Cut corporate and individual taxes.
Repeal the Obamacare individual mandate.
Appoint a highly-respected conservative to the Supreme Court.
Appoint a one-year record number of judges to the circuit courts.
Get rid of reams of unnecessary regulations.
Destroy ISIS.
Approve pipeline projects and new oil drilling.”

There are many, many more examples (such as moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, pulling out of the Paris Climate scam, etc.) to add to the list but you get the picture. When the media talks about a do-nothing presidency they’re really referring to Congress which in all fairness hasn’t been as efficient as it could have been due to ineffective leadership and its intimate affiliation with the Washington swamp.

York’s piece was primarily focused on making the case for Trump to find and hire the “best people” for his administration in order to keep the good vibes going, but there’s little doubt the head man himself grasps what needs to be done. A lifetime spent managing a company dabbling in everything from gourmet steaks to wine to building skyscrapers trained Trump well for the ever-evolving public relations mission that is the office of president of the United States.

Not to mention Vice President Mike Pence is at Trump’s side for nearly everything major that gets done in Washington these days. From the outside looking in one can only speculate but it seems evident from the decidedly conservative direction of Trump’s policies that his second in command has a major influence on him.

Trump certainly isn’t receiving good tips on the mood of the conservative grassroots from the so-called “West Wing Democrats” in his personal sphere and definitely not from any of the Obama deep state holdovers in the various federal departments around him. If anything Trump has lost many of the top conservative advisers from his campaign days, which leaves Pence, Steve Miller and Kellyanne Conway to make the case for people out in the hinterlands who just want to live their lives with as little government interference as possible.

Wherever the advice is coming from Trump deserves credit for taking it. Even his foreign policy exhibited the type of realism and restraint his predecessors lacked. For example, Trump isn’t afraid to call out Muslim leaders for their failure to do more to battle the radical elements in their domains. Likewise, after a prolonged war in the federal courts his “travel ban” is in effect. More could be done but much of the political correctness has been scrubbed from U.S. policy.

Good riddance.

Despite ample evidence Trump is already getting plenty of good guidance there are those who fear the absence of a detectable political operation will hurt him in the long run.

David M. Drucker wrote in the Washington Examiner, “Republican operatives critical of the White House political shop are legion. Many are senior party insiders supportive of the president — in 2016 and since — and want him to succeed. Most, not wanting to appear hostile to Trump, requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.

“In detailing their view of the department’s shortcomings, they did not particularly blame [White House political director Bill] Stepien, who is viewed as an accomplished campaign operative. They do question whether he has the stature with senior staff, and Trump, to command authority and impact White House strategy and keep in line the competing elements of the Republican Party, in service of the president.

“One Republican insider who has met with White House officials about political matters doesn’t recall representatives of the political shop ever joining those conversations. ‘They’ve told me: ‘I know you’ve given advice, let us know if we can help,’’ this insider said.”

As would be expected Drucker referred to the White House’s shaky handling of the recent Alabama election, criticizing the president’s late emergence into the contest and for not working more closely with Mitch McConnell and Alabama state GOP leaders to nominate a candidate who could win in what was universally viewed as a “safe” Republican seat.

Many conservatives lamented the fact Freedom Caucus member Congressman Mo Brooks (running in the GOP primary against establishment favorite Luther Strange and grassroots-backed Roy Moore) was not given a greater look by Trump before the race took a decidedly anti-Strange turn, but it’s little more than Monday morning quarterbacking to nitpick at Trump now for his failure to ignore McConnell and the Washington elites back then to favor Brooks.

If anything, it’s apparent Trump listened too intently to McConnell and other Republican establishmentarians who must have told him Strange was a lock to retain the seat. They were proven wrong -- but not until after McConnell’s “Leadership” PAC had already dumped millions into a state campaign to smear other Republicans.

The truth is Trump doesn’t need a political “shop” to feed him establishment-generated advice. If that were the case all he would have to do is sign-up Karl Rove on retainer and hire a gaggle of Republican consultants who would be all too happy to tell him to “moderate” his aims in order to appeal to Democrats, women voters, etc.

Such is the advice of losers – and Trump isn’t a loser. With the help of non-establishmentarians like Steve Bannon and Conway he managed to pull off something no one ever gave him a realistic chance to do – win the 2016 election against a better funded, better staffed, better respected (in elite circles) and more “seasoned” politician who took full advantage of everything a political operation could offer.

Today Crooked Hillary Clinton is writing books and wandering like a nomad on the speaking circuit and doing interviews with late night TV hosts while Trump is traveling the world representing the United States on Air Force One.

Who had the better political advice?

It shouldn’t be forgotten Trump had no “warm-up acts” on his way to the White House. He’d never served in Congress, wasn’t a governor of a state or even mayor of a city. Trump had been involved in politics for a long time but only as the guy sitting across the desk from a candidate asking for money. He kept his own counsel during the campaign and it appears he’s still doing it to a large extent even today.

Establishment insiders in Drucker’s article say it will come back to haunt him at some point but for now Trump seems to be doing just fine relying on his own political instincts. When you add Mike Pence to the mix it looks as though Trump is getting more than sufficient counsel. And again, the results speak for themselves.

Trump did it his way in last year’s campaign including firing and hiring new campaign managers twice within the span of half a year. Let’s not forget how the “experts” forecasted ill consequences would ensue when Trump completely changed course (firing Paul Manafort and replacing him with Bannon and Conway) less than three months before the general election. Trump also made a switch at the end of the primary race, letting Corey Lewandowski go and bringing in Manafort.

Trump changed horses but the rider remained the same. I’m having a hard time seeing how bringing in his own personal Karl Rove would convince Trump to be someone else now. Would he listen? Does he need to?

There are also rumblings that part of the Trump coalition is beginning to unravel, including evangelicals who are purportedly upset with Trump’s un-presidential behavior. Stephen Mansfield wrote in the Washington Examiner, “Among some of the religious conservatives who helped place Donald Trump in the presidency, there is a subtle but growing sense of buyer’s remorse. To them, Trump has not been ennobled by the office as they had hoped. He has not allowed his newfound but much touted commitment to faith to lift him above the crass brawler he has been most of his life.

“For some of these religious conservatives, it is the pettiness that offends most. They had hoped for a healer, rather than the kind of man who would call protesting NFL players ‘sons of bitches’ or who would feud with the beleaguered mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, while she stood elbow-deep in the waters of hurricane Irma. For other faith-based former Trump supporters, it is the sense that something is amiss in the president’s inner being, that perhaps TV host Stephen Colbert was right when he spoke of the president’s ‘anemic firefly of a soul.’”

Granted this is only one man’s opinion – and I haven’t seen many other examples of unhappy politically minded churchgoing folks – but it seems clear religious conservatives should be thrilled with the policy achievements of the Trump administration thus far (especially compared with the Obama years and the current anti-religion Democrat leadership in Congress).

While it’s true Trump’s coarse ways wouldn’t necessarily qualify him as a role model for proper Sunday school deportment, religious conservatives now have a seat at the government table and people in the administration who listen to their concerns. That’s not to mention the complete change in direction from just last year in terms of judicial nominees. If Hillary Clinton had been elected religious leaders wouldn’t even be welcome at the White House – unless they were Muslims or LGBTQ enabling liberal Jews and Christians.

Everyone who voted for Trump knew what they were getting and his administration has thus far featured few unpleasant surprises. Trump’s White House may lack a true political operation in the mold of his predecessors but in many ways that’s a good thing. All signs point to Trump’s momentum being sustained.

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