From up close, Trump makes sense


This past week I was in Washington. I saw a huge dichotomy between how the administration is portrayed 350 miles away filtered by the media vs. how it really works behind the scenes. When you look beyond the bluster, you get it.

Constantly opposing the administration until the next election only ensures nothing gets done when Trump might actually be the Democrats’ best hope. Because it doesn’t matter who is in the White House if the other side refuses to deal while Trump thrives on dealing.

Understand Trump is a master media manipulator. He literally wrote the book on the art of cutting a deal. Sure ,we all would like to take his Twitter away. But know that it’s all part of his show. If you ignore the showmanship and simply watch what he actually does, things become much clearer.

Let’s take the Jerusalem Embassy Act as an example. In 1995, Congress passed a law requiring the embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move could be delayed six months at a time if the president felt it was in the national interest to temporarily delay the move.

For 20 years, every president promises to move the embassy. Then every President signs the delay every six months, never moving it.

President Trump simply promises the same as Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. The only difference is Trump has trained the media to be careful what you ask him to do, because he’ll do it. Like him or not, he keeps his word.

After promising what other presidents promise, he also signs the six-month delay, just like every president before him. While the media and Middle East went nuts over Trump saying and doing the same thing as other presidents, only one report noted Trump’s real reason for making it a big show. Trump said it put the U.S. in a stronger negotiating position in the Middle East.

Delaying hasn’t helped for 20 years. So threatening to finally enact the law puts Trump in a power position. He has used everyone’s hate for him to an advantage, giving himself another card to play in the Middle East.

Trump finds a way to be in a power position in negotiations. Look at the Dream Act. Obama had a noble idea, signing an executive order to protect those born in the U.S. to parents here illegally. America is the only home they know. But an executive order isn’t law and no president, Republican or Democrat, has been able to bring the two perspectives together.

Enter our own Sen. Thom Tillis. He throws Trump a gem. His bill not only allows dreamers to stay as long as they are in school and become productive people, but provides a path to citizenship as long as they aren’t felons. Trump agrees with the bill and isn’t the problem.

The problem is far right Republicans want everyone to go, even if they are good citizens, and far left Democrats want everyone to stay, even if they are felons. Neither will compromise, despite the bill having what they both want. So here’s what Americans want.

Judge Roy Moore’s Alabama defeat was actually a blessing for Republicans who now avoid dealing with his ethics issues. Republicans said their real reason for electing the Democrat is he seemed more likely to reach across the aisle than Moore.

This is really what Americans want. They want someone who is willing to find where two sides can agree rather than always focusing on where they disagree. Trump actually understands this as a dealmaker. Watch him take a half step toward a goal then pause to see where he can cut a deal to make something happen. When you receive hate from both extremes for doing this, then you must be doing something right in between.

Sure Trump isn’t a saint and he could care less about political expedience. That should be refreshing. When you see it, you get it.

Phillip Stephens is chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.

Phillip Stephens is chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.