Can Trump Govern?

Can the draft dodger, debt welcher, business bankrupter and philanderer actually lead?

By - Nov 14th, 2016 03:51 pm
Donald Trump. Image from campaign website.

Donald Trump. Image from campaign website.

My 105 valid reasons to not vote for Donald Trump obviously had little impact locally or elsewhere, mainly because the dislike of Hillary Clinton and her elitist, crony politics far out-weighed my case. The dissatisfaction with eight years of the Barack Obama Administration also weighed heavily in the GOP sweep across the country.

My home Washington County had the highest percentage of Trump voters in Wisconsin: 68%

There are an infinite number of ways to slice and dice Trump’s narrow win (1% in Wisconsin), but the electorate has spoken: he’s our president for four years starting in two months. The campaign is over; the B. S. has come to a blessed end; the second experiment in a row with a rookie as president begins.

Ironically, I hear these words from people who reluctantly voted for Trump as the least worst — that’s a new Wisconsin sausage: leastwurst — of two lamentable candidates: “Hope” and “Change.” That was Obama’s theme in 2008. Now the Trump voters are hoping he will change his tone and ways as he embarks on his change agenda.

There are right ways and wrong ways to go about change. President Obama forced through Obamacare from the top down, the wrong way, and it has proved unsustainable and politically unpopular.

Let’s all of us, pro – and anti – Trump voters, hope he proves more astute as he launches his agenda.

If you’ve been in management for awhile, you learn to look at people’s feet. You discount the words and watch the feet. You calibrate performance. That’s where Donald Trump and the Republican Party find themselves today.

Trump proved to be a master showman, but that’s all verbosity, insults, verbal attacks, promises, rhetoric. That’s a flood of words that’s water over the dam. They means little any more.

Even though past performance is usually the best indicator of future performance, voters looked at Trump’s previous performance (draft dodger, debt welcher, business bankruptor, lawsuit junkie, policy and party flip-flopper, philanderer, and on and on), and then they looked away. They have taken a big chance that he will be different in the big job.

They hope he will pull in competent people to help him run the enormous federal government. In the swamp he wants to drain, there are some experienced civil servants that he will need to run complex agencies. The agencies don’t run themselves.

In the first hundred days, there will be some easy stuff, such as reversal of executive orders, the appointment of a conservative U. S. Supreme Court justice, reversing some regulations.

Then will come the hard stuff: replacing Obamacare with a better plan to lower health costs and improve quality and access; lowering taxes without ballooning the federal deficit and debt; and reforming immigration without reducing an already tight labor pool and ripping the country apart.

He will have to learn fast how to handle international hot spots without having American men and women coming home in body bags. He will have to figure out how to contain the imperial ambitions of China and Russia and the lunacies of North Korea and Iran.

On trade, he talked tough about cutting back on imports, but he will need to negotiate those tricky waters without shutting down the flow of American exports, upon which many jobs depend. (Wisconsin, for example, exports more than it imports.) if he clamps down too hard on imports, he could trigger a trade war, higher taxes on our exports and a deep recession.

There are pragmatic solutions to most of the challenges he faces and the broad brush promises he made. But there was little sign on the campaign trail that he listens and learns from pragmatists who have been living and dealing in the real worlds outside the unreal world of casinos and politics.

This is a man who knows how to tap into crowd emotions. He’s good on center stage. He communicates with less than half the people in the country and turns off the other half – just as Hillary Clinton did.

To govern, he will have to dig deep into complex issues and he will have to sell solutions to the whole country, not just the disaffected who are actually a minority. He will have to focus long enough to grasp root causes of problems and to engineer workable solutions.

Trump has some major things going for him as he prepares to take office. The biggest advantage is that the country is not as busted as he portrayed it. The economy is chugging along with moderate growth. More people are back at work. Wages have been rising nicely of late.

It wouldn’t take many missteps to cause a recession. He wants to rev up the economy, but job one is to not lose the progress made since the Great Recession.

The second advantage is that we are not in a major ground war. We face on-going danger from the Islamic terrorists, and he needs to take them out without alienating a billion Muslims across the world and within the United States. He needs to make Muslims allies.

Lindsay Graham understands that equation. Make him Defense Secretary. Be big enough to bring in some rivals from the GOP primaries as cabinet members or advisors. Please resist the urge to get even with the GOP establishment, like Speaker Paul Ryan. Make peace in the party, not a civil war. Nothing will get done if the party suffers a major split.

That should be doable for a man who celebrates the art of the deal.

This is a tall set of agenda items for a rookie who is going to have to learn on the job.

It’s not about him anymore. It’s about the Presidency, the institution, and about the well-being of the country.

Much as I detest Trump’s past behaviors, I, like many Americans, hope his future performance will measure up positively for the country.

The ball is in his court. It’s not about showmanship anymore; it’s about performance. That’s also true for the GOP in general.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

44 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Can Trump Govern?”

  1. will says:

    We did it fam, now let’s get to work and Make America Great Again!

  2. Virginia says:

    Trump telegraphed some of how he will govern in his 60 Minutes interview. He came across as someone who thinks he can decide a course, as CEOs do, and then instruct others to make sure his will is done. Despite her demurring, I suspect Ivanka will be his enforcer.

    Trump also reiterated that he knows more than all the generals. Way to inspire trust and build a team as commander in chief!

    He also seemed befuddled about the fact that many citizens are terrified about how they will be affected by Trumpism. He admonished those peddling bigotry to “Just Stop It!” but some said today he will need to do much more to call off the dogs–especially since his campaign stoked those fires.

    But his stance on abortion is truly amusing while making no sense, He can’t wait to appoint “pro-life” judges but doubts they will overturn Roe v. Wade. And even if they did he says “they will just send the abortion issue back to the states.” So his plan is apparently to force women to travel from state to state for reproductive health care. He did not explain how that was going to “Make America Great Again.” But it would bring back the market for back-alley abortion providers.

  3. Vincent Hanna says:

    America already is great will.

  4. It’s interesting to note that while John is critical of Obama as president, he admits the economy is rolling along with moderate growth and sign of wage increases.If we remember the mess Obama inherited, it might be fair to give him credit for this present day gift to the next President.

  5. fightingbobfan says:

    “The dissatisfaction with eight years of the Barack Obama Administration also weighed heavily in the GOP sweep across the country.”

    This is 2000 all over again. People wanted a change. They got it alright. Good and hard.

    Once again we fail to learn from history.

  6. fightingbobfan says:

    BTW — I’m doing well under this “disasta” economy. Doubt it will last.

    Thanks you dumbasses who voted for Trump.

  7. Vincent Hanna says:

    Major Garrett is on WPR right now talking about how Trump’s transition team is full of industry lobbyists so he wasted no time getting to business as usual. So much for “draining the swamp.”

    Is this how we make America great again will? http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/10/us/post-election-hate-crimes-and-fears-trnd/

    The president-elect in 2016 had to tell his supporters to “stop it” with the hate crimes. That’s really encouraging.

  8. Virginia says:

    In an unprecedented move, Trump has requested that his three eldest children be given top-secret security clearances. By federal law, he cannot give them paid jobs in his administration. Trump says his children and their spouses will continue to run all the family businesses–while serving as unpaid top advisors. There will NOT be a blind trust under which these assets are managed.

    Essentially, there will be a complete blurring of the running of the federal government and the Trump Family’s global corporate interests.

    America will function as a plutocracy. The so-called “swamp” of special interests will be drained directly into the White House. And the EPA will likely lose all ability to regulate this or other swamps and the once-great legacy of our natural resources.

    Trump and his dynasty will attempt to rule, not govern.

  9. Patricia Jursik says:

    Washington County had the biggest percentage vote for Trump! Isn’t that exactly the proof of the pudding. Greed, lack of empathy for the poor, delayed backlash of the Obama election, call it what you will, the “I want my cake and eat it too crowd” has thrown divided government on the trash heap of history and can run rough-shod with this administration. Failure to file tax returns should have disqualified Trump. Now no one will readily know his conflicts with
    Russia, his Chinese Bankers or his business dealings throughout the Globe. I see little to be hopeful for and see no reason to wait for any validation of shedding of his skin.

  10. WashCoRepub says:

    Are we lucky enough to have the wisdom of Pat Jursik here?? Wow! Perhaps Pat can lecture Washington County on how to run our finances with the same efficacy she brought to the Milwaukee County Board. You know, with votes that decimated the bus system budget with free rides.

    Hey, you enjoy that wheel tax, though. I’m sure that little gem will be popular with the poor she purports to show such empathy for.

  11. Jerry says:

    I fear not. He will turn the governing over to Pence and Ryan. We will be saddled with austerity and Ryan’s “Better Way” which is a way forward for those at the top not the rest of us. The rising tide that John referred to under Obama has not raised the boats of the working and middle class and they remain in low wage, low opportunity jobs, with little hope for future gains. Ryan’s choice to gut Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid will not “Make America Great Again.” By almost every measure the average American is wore off than they were a generation ago and unless Trump goes big time to rebuild the infrastructure of this nation through stimulus spending Ryan’s plan will put us back into a recession. Our economy can’t grow when people have little in the way of discretionary income to spend..

  12. Tim says:

    WashCoRepub, someone who supports Trump the bankruptor takes pot shots about balancing budgets in Milwaukee County.

    Trump hasn’t even been sworn into office & you’re getting desperate.

  13. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    We backed Kasich cause he could beat Hillary.
    When Trump got nominated, we talked to all the people we knew that were close to Trump and they think highly of him. We backed him and concur with Kasten, Kelly Ann, Muriel Coleman, Tommy, Reince.
    Trump can be another Reagan.
    He solves problems that the Left has screwed up.

  14. fightingbobfan says:

    Bob, to be a conservative do you have to be clueless and gullible?

    How can anyone think highly of this lying, sexist, racist con man? On top of that we are ready seeing acts of vandalism and threats from his racists supporters, including a victory parade by the Klan.

    The only way he has gotten ahead was over the bodies of his creditors and contractors. Nothing about him speaks class or competence.

    What an insult to Reagan.

  15. Vincent Hanna says:

    WCD has to believe that or convince himself it’s true. He’s hardly the only conservative doing so right now. It must be tough considering recent events. If they aren’t worried about the extremely rocky transition, they should be. Team Trump is in disarray already. Doesn’t bode well for the nation.

  16. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Team trump is doing just fine. Want to see disarray, call Hillary, ask Obama and look in the mirror

  17. Vincent Hanna says:

    “President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition was in disarray on Tuesday, marked by firings, infighting and revelations that American allies were blindly dialing in to Trump Tower to try to reach the soon-to-be-leader of the free world.”

    Those sentiments are expressed in countless stories in countless media outlets in the last 24 hours. Republicans are saying it too, like Eliot Cohen and Max Boot and many others. But sure WCD everything is fine.

  18. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Funny, quit believing the NY Times, and face the fact you lost, and are losers, that cannot fix anything, look at Milwaukee.

  19. Vincent Hanna says:

    Funny, you can’t read. As I said, those headline are everywhere and many Republicans are distressed by a transition in disarray. As you say the election is over so that’s not what this is about. I don’t want Trump to fail as that would be bad for the country and therefore makes no sense. But the hiring of Bannon and the fact that the transition is already going badly are not good signs. But I hope you’re right about the president-elect WCD.

  20. fightingbobfan says:

    Bob, have you ever thought through anything you believe in? If you want to point to big cities — where much of the economy is out of the hands of the mayors — then you have to look at the rural America.

    Get off the interstates and drive through the small towns and you’ll see main streets with boarded up store fronts. What you won’t see is the growing unemployment and growing drug use.

    And guess who they vote for when it comes to state-wide office for people who really do have an impact on the economy.

    My advice is stop using that mindless talking point because rural America trumps that every time.

  21. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Stupid is as stupid says. Our family homesteaded in Maribel, 40 acres, in 1856. I have lived all around this state where I go all the time.
    I have worked in inner city pharmacies for 50 years and have daily dealings in inner city.
    I am constantly amazed by the stupidity on this site. Do you ever do research.
    Finally The left has screwed up every thing they touch, for years, and Milwaukee and it mess is prime example.

  22. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Hanna, boy you peoel are stupid. Believe th same newspapers that predicted Hillary would win landslide and hammered Trump daily now covering their butts.

  23. Vincent Hanna says:

    Speaking of being constantly amazed, how old are you again? 70 or 75? Do your loved ones know how often you go on the Internet and call people stupid? Does your wife approve of that behavior? No wonder you like Trump.

  24. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Yes, and they encourage me to call it as it is. I have been writing newspaper column since 1967 to millions of peoel and have the guts to expose the nuts all the time.

  25. AG says:

    fightingbobfan #14) I’ve seen as much or more violence, threats, faked racism incidents, and hate spewed by the anti-trump protestors than I’ve seen from Trump supporters. I think we can condemn those actions all around, yes?

  26. fightingbobfan says:

    You don’t even have the class to admit that these incidents were not “faked” or to lie about there being violence from the protests.

    We ain’t see nothing yet from the collection of baboons and goon Trump supporters, including a Klan parade celebrating the Trump win. This is going to be an ugly four years. You slobs cannot even win with grace.

  27. fightingbobfan says:

    Yeah Bob, bet you expose your nuts all the time.

  28. Vincent Hanna says:

    Your loved ones encourage you to call people stupid and racist? So they are as deplorable as you are. That’s really sad and unfortunate. How can you possibly think you are making things better by doing that?

  29. AG says:

    Fightingbobfan, what bubble do you live in? You have not seen the video of the man being beaten up while people yell “you voted for trump? This is what you get!” and the women arrested in LA and MI for lying about being attacked because they were Muslin?

    Is this the KKK rally you’re talking about? http://www.snopes.com/klan-marches-celebrate-trump-victory/

    How about the Nazi flags that people are saying are raised by Trump supporters but were actually anti-trump people calling him a Nazi?

    Or how about the violent riots in Portland and elsewhere? Is that an example of the love that is supposed to Trump hate?

    I’ve seen video’s and accurate stories about Trump supporters being racist… but I’ve seen just as much fake news and faked vandalism (vandalism real, the perpetrators though were not Trump supporters) to show just as much, or more, going on from anti-trump protesters.

    If you want to talk about class and grace… let’s talk about losing the election with class. Many of my liberal friends are embarrassed by what is going on right now.

  30. Vincent Hanna says:

    Embarrassed that people are protesting? Is there a valid reason for protesting, like being worried about the rise in hate crimes against Muslims and other actual hate crimes and the appointment of Bannon, or is now not the time to protest? The SLPC has reported more than 300 incidents of hateful harassment and intimidation since the election. Are there just as many hoaxes?

  31. Vincent Hanna says:

    Also, while he laments the protesters now, guess what Trump said people should do after Obama’s 2012 reelection? That’s right. Protest and march on Washington.

  32. AG says:

    Embarrassed because more than half the protestors didn’t vote, because they’re causing damage in the streets, because they chant “this is what democracy looks for” without trying to be ironic, because they use profane language with their children at the protest, because they cause massive safety hazard by blocking busy highways, and more. The election was Nov 8th, the time to do something to stop Trump was before that, not after.

    The harrassment is a) not as wide spread as some seem to think it is. b) committed by both sides. c) needs to stop regardless of who is doing it.

    Regarding comment 31, that is because Trump is a whiny child who changes his position on things depending on what benefits him in that moment.

  33. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    AG, only whine around here is the Left as they lose for the 6th year. Will never win again with you guys in control.

  34. Vincent Hanna says:

    People shouldn’t protest after the election? That makes no sense.

    You are wrong. It’s more widespread than you want to acknowledge. For example, the city of Greenville, NC had an emergency meeting due to the volume of harassment going on in schools and businesses. And this is happening right as the FBI reveals a huge uptick in hate crimes. I don’t know why you feel the need to equivocate here. There’s no equivocation. A handful of examples nationwide doesn’t compare to what the SPLC and FBI have reported.

  35. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Same bunch of whirners that protesteed Act 10

  36. Vincent Hanna says:

    I didn’t protest Act 10 or sign a recall petition.

  37. Numzio Simfuegos says:

    A crime is a crime is a crime, and none of it should be excused. However, a hate crime fits into a different category, and should be treated as such. And, yes, there have been hate crimes perpetrated against Trump supporters-but, if you look at history, of this country and others, you can see why LGBT, blacks, Latinos, Jews, Muslim, etc get more than nervous when there are swastikas and racial epithets popping up all over the place.
    In terms of the leadership of the Democrats, I think that they have been pretty exemplary. They have conceded with grace and invited Trump to visit the White House in record time. If the election results were reversed, Trump would very likely not have accepted the results, causing even deeper chaos than we have now.
    Of course, none of us should characterize an entire side of the political process by what a fraction of a percent of the people are doing. What makes people most nervous right now is what Donald Trump has actually said he will do. He has already appointed a white supremacist as his chief strategist.

  38. fightingbobfan says:

    So what if you did or didn’t. It’s your right.

    But of course now the fascists have been scouring recall petition signers for harassment.

    They have crap for policies and so they have to resort this along with voter suppression and made to order gerrymandering.

    Look what Act 10 has done for this state. If had one propose and on purpose only. Cripple public employee unions for their own political advantage.

    Things to that and other measures that prove the right wing doesn’t know how the economy works, Now our economy is second worse in the country.

  39. Vincent Hanna says:

    The list of alleged advisers and potential hires grows more depressing by the day. Sheriff Joe, Frank Gaffney, Kris Kobach, the Texas politician who called Clinton a c&*t.

    WCD, what’s your vision for the GOP? Are you on board with those people listed above (and Bannon)? Are they the kind of people you want in the White House? Can Trump do no wrong? I hope you can refrain from calling me a whiny loser. I already know that. It would be great if you could try to answer the questions. In the spirit of the holidays and your party’s victory last Tuesday, humor me.

  40. fightingbobfan says:

    Let’s answer John Toriunus’ original question.

    No, Trump can’t govern. The man-child neither has the ability to concentrate, the intellectual curiosity or the competence.

    He may be successful, but most of us will be damned surprised.

    Just like our doofus governor shows, winning an election and knowing what you are doing once you have the job are two different things.

  41. Virginia says:

    It’s very doubtful that Trump can govern, or that he knows what governing–or being a world leader–actually entails, or has any interest in that actual relentless responsibility (or even living in the White House).

    What Trump and his family can do (sometimes) is sell. They’ve already begun using his pending presidency to hawk everything from their real estate to jewelry. The big 60 Minutes interview with his family was brazenly used by Ivanka to sell the $10,000 bracelet she was wearing. Her PR people alerted to the media about the bracelet–and Ivanka was careful to raise her hand when interviewed to model it. As many pundits have noted, we are in uncharted territory.


    And the GOP caucus members were each given a red “Make America Great Again” hat when they met after the election. It’s all just like the Kardashians except, for now, the Kardashians are staying in their lane and not pretending to do any more than enrich themselves through their ceaseless branding efforts.

  42. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    Virginia, keep it up we love to hear the lost, Left whine. Everyone has rejected you in wis.

  43. Vincent Hanna says:

    Typical WCD. No solutions, no answers, just name-calling.

  44. Patricia Jursik says:

    Wash Co. Republican: Thank you for illustrating the point. No one was lecturing Wash. Co. on “how to run our finances”, I was commenting on how Washington Co. leeches off Milw. Co., one of our poorest SE WI Counties that just happens to be your host for Cultures such as Zoo, Museum, Music Centers… and of course the great regional parks. I have collected the facts of usage, for example, the zoo hosts as high as 70% of non-Milw Co. guests per year. This zoo admission fee does not come close to paying for the zoo (typical across the country), it is Milw. Co. property tax payers that provide your attraction. Marcus Center: over 60%, MAM close to 65%. I could go on. I am happy to pay the wheel tax to keep our Parks and Cultures open, but I can not help but note the greed of the WOW communities as they control the election of our State Leaders who refuse to let Milw. Co. use a sales tax, which could capture some of your dollars, despite their talk about local control. So to the point, I was lecturing Washington Co. about your greed in refusing to pay for what you use. I don’t expect much different from a Trump administration, but if he in fact surprises us, I doubt you’ll continue to be a fan.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us