Conrad Black: Kelly Arrival a Turning of the Tide for White House
New chief of staff turns page on dysfunction, returns focus to Trump's economic agenda and victories
The tide has turned, finally. The ramshackle vendor’s cart of the White House was steered into a pothole that could only be escaped with a ladder by Anthony “the Mouth” Scaramucci. The politically interested part of the country held its breath as Marine General John Kelly settled in as chief of staff and everyone contemplated the most asinine, vulgar, and self-destructive utterance in the history of presidential spokesmen.
What possessed Scaramucci to accept the word of a reporter for one of the most rabidly Trump-hating media outlets in the country, The New Yorker, that they were off the record, as he obscenely stabbed his closest colleagues in the presidential entourage, will make an interesting monograph in a specialist psychiatric journal.
Superficially, it is possible to imagine the liking of the president for Scaramucci — the noisy operative armed with the outer-borough aggressiveness of a street-fighting, self-made rich man — whose only defense is a pre-emptive offense. Get your retaliation in first, as the Irish national football team used to say.
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The arrival of General Kelly, like the Seventh Cavalry, to the White House brought a curtain call for the Scaramucci affair and coincided with the sharp confirmation of continued economic success for the young administration. Economics is essentially half third-grade arithmetic and half basic psychology. However jarring the president’s tweets and other asides may be, the economically determinative half of the people appreciate the implications of Trumpism for their wallets.
This is not just the prospect of tax reform, where the health care fiasco assists in motivating the weaklings who infest the Republican congressional delegation to try to accomplish something. Economic progress is now sprouting in the numbers and thrusting through the pious innumerate ignorance that covers most of the media like thickly smeared sunblock.
The administration has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord, both life-threatening doses of economic arsenic, has begun renegotiating new trade arrangements with Mexico, China, South Korea, and Canada, and has canceled Obama’s ex gratia trade giveaway to Cuba.
Decades passed of the United States huffing and puffing at OPEC but doing nothing when the Saudis reduced the oil price, and then raised it again once Washington lapsed back into its accustomed torpor. The U.S. has now increased daily oil production by 500,000 barrels per day, and exports have increased by 1.3 million barrels per day, while strengthening its position as the world’s largest natural gas producer. North Dakota is now pipelining out a half a million barrels of oil a day, and the Keystone Pipeline between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico is approved for construction at last.
While unemployment numbers are not entirely trustworthy because Obama enabled millions of people in the prime of their lives to drop out and live on welfare payments and overprescribed Medicaid, jobless claims are at their lowest point in 28 years, African-American unemployment is down to 7.5 percent, and food stamp use, which under Obama more than tripled, from 14 million to 44 million families, has declined by about 4 percent.
The federal budget deficit has declined sharply, and the administration is already at almost 90 percent of its full-term goal for economic growth. The first new coal mine in Pennsylvania in decades opened, creating almost 500 jobs, coal prices have risen by nearly 9 percent, coal production rose generally by 19 per cent, and the mining industry has added almost 60,000 jobs in nine months. There is a regulatory freeze, two regulations must be canceled for each new regulation, and more than a million net new jobs have been created in six months.
The disgraceful Augean Stable of the Veterans’ Affairs Department is being cleaned up, including many hundreds of firings for cause; 22 million dollars has been cut from the White House budget alone, and the president has ordered the non-enforcement of the Johnson Act, banning political activity by religious organizations.
As this news forces its way through the Trump-hating media to the public, the continued absence of any evidence has largely deflated the Russian collusion nonsense, evaporating like the unfounded campaign charges that Trump was a sexist and a racist.
The prospects for tax reform and reductions are relatively good, as the politics, though complicated, are less daunting than the health care labyrinth, and the president is promising to face up to the North Korean crisis in a way that his three predecessors declined to do. It is becoming steadily more difficult for the Democrats in Congress and the media to continue their partisan shooting gallery. It has not moved the needle in the polls, and if present trends continue, the Trump economic honeymoon could become the real thing.
Conrad Black is a critically acclaimed author and biographer, the former head of Argus & Hollinger group of companies and London’s Telegraph newspapers, Black is also the founder of Canada’s National Post. He’s been a member of the British House of Lords since 2001.