Trump’s first year in office has been surprisingly successful commentary gas lighting


The nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to fill the vacancy of Antonin Scalia more than fulfilled that promise. Gorsuch isn’t a John Roberts, David Souter or Anthony Kennedy, to name three disappointing justices appointed by the three previous Republican presidents, but a brilliant legal mind with tremendous writing ability and persuasive powers.

Trump critics, particularly those on the right, like to mock Trump voters with the phrase “But Gorsuch!” It’s their way of saying that Gorsuch is the only good thing Trump has done and that a Trump presidency is not worth the rest. Except Gorsuch is not even close to the only good thing Trump has done.

In early June, Trump announced the U.S. departure from the Paris climate accord, an agreement that would have had virtually no impact on future temperatures but would have come at a large cost in the growth of government and control over the economy.

For the 2017 fiscal year, Trump revoked 22 regulations for each new regulation that was issued. His chief regulatory officer, Neomi Rao, said the administration would continue the pace of deregulation through 2018, announcing 448 deregulatory actions and 131 regulatory actions.

Businesses are responding to the deregulation and historic corporate tax reform by loosening purse strings and investing in plants, equipment and factories. Pepco, a power utility that serves the Mid-Atlantic region, just announced it’s lowering everyone’s electric bills as a result of the savings from corporate tax reform.

Trump’s foreign policy could be more restrained, but it’s far less interventionist than that of any of his recent predecessors, focused on national interest over nation-building or other less pressing and more expensive concerns. By trusting his military leaders to make quick decisions on the battlefield, in contrast to Obama’s desire to placate Iran and micromanage trivial moves such as helicopter deployments, Trump is crushing the Islamic State. Sanctions and other nonmilitary efforts are being used to keep North Korea at bay after the failure of denuclearization as practiced by presidents since Bill Clinton.

Trump is not normal, his critics keep saying. Sometimes that’s a plus. He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel more than two decades after the Senate passed legislation requiring it, and after two decades of presidents signing waivers every six months to avoid it. More recently, he froze funding for Pakistan until it stops harboring terrorists.

Like most people, I don’t particularly like Trump’s rhetorical style, juvenile insults and intemperate disposition — on full display in recent days. At the same time, having followed his career for decades, I am not surprised that he wakes up each morning as Donald Trump.

Ironically, the very lack of conservative bona fides that worried me two years ago means he’s less beholden to a conservative establishment that had grown alienated from the people it is supposed to serve and from the principles it ostensibly exists to promote. His surprising conservatism might also be the result of the absolutism and extremism of his critics, whether among the media, traditional Democratic activists or the anti-Trump right.