To a stunning Election Night upset that earns him a four-year stay in the white house, albeit less ornate mansion that’s a short stroll from the fancier hotel he recently opened in the nation’s capital, Donald has stunned the “ridiculers” and many, including myself.
Now Donald Trump will be the U.S’s 45th President.
In the fictional movie, featuring politician Robert Redford, played in the 1972 movie “The Candidate,” which ends with the senator-elect asking: “What do we now?”. Here are some suggestions for President-Elect Trump.
- Leverage his bench of talented speechwriters from the past three Republican presidencies who may be willing to help with the historical (my Hoover Institution colleague Peter Robinson, author of Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech, would be a good place to start).
- Deliver a Humble Inaugural. It took Ronald Reagan 2,427 words to deliver a moving inaugural in 1981. JFK did his in 1,366 words. Abraham Lincoln, in 1865, was even terser: a mere 700 words. For Trump, this first big speech is more than the opening act of his presidency. It’s about making a good first impression with a skeptical public. He foes that by demonstrating the enormity of the vow he will have just taken.
- Grow some thick skin in a short time. We know Trump can be overly sensitive to negative coverage. If he’s smart, he resists the urge to storm into the Briefing Room and tell the press corps what’s on his mind.
- Reboot Press Relations. If you think the Chief of Staff will have it tough, try being the new White House Secretary.
- Trump could import some rivals from the GOP primaries – Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee tuned out to be loyal surrogates. And there’s the deep bench on Republicans in Congress and in running states nationwide. What Trump does about Chris Christie – leading the transition effort, perhaps coveting the Attorney General slot, but tainted by last week’s “Bridgegate” convictions – will be interesting to watch.
- Build a Cabinet of Insiders and Outsiders. Are we in store for talk of another “Team Of Rivals” approach to building a presidential cabinet (in reality, the gang Barack Obama assembled wasn’t all that Lincoln-esque).
- Chief of staff picks – New Gingrich? Rudy Giuliani? Would either be willing to be the West Wing’s bad cop, confronting Trump when they think he’s wrong on policy, strategy or execution?
- Put Someone in The West Wing Who’ll Challenge him. Throughout the saga that was the Trump campaign, there was always the question of adult supervision: an aide, a confidante who could tell Trump things he didn’t want to hear and convince him to moderate bad habits. Perhaps offer Kellyanne Conway a position of a press adviser.
- Courting historians in an attempt to spin their first draft of history. Trump needs the ideas merchants sooner than he may realize. Presidents tend to do this at the end of their presidency.
- Hold a series of dinner salons with influential conservatives in New York (The Wall Street Journal editorial board, for example) and in the District of Columbia (Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, George Will, to name just a few).
- Stop those dead-of-the-night tweeting.
- Let go of the petty insults and juvenile denigrations that are simply unbecoming of a president.
- It’s time to bid adieu to “Crooked Hillary” and “Lying Ted” and the “corrupt media”.
- Time to Let Go. Assuming Trump is able to be a gracious winner (and his speech Wednesday night was a good start), it’s time to pivot out of campaign mode. He’s now tasked with acting as a statesman, not a showman treating presidential political like a reality TV show.
- Read Up on Andrew Jackson. This was only the second time in the history of the nation that an election was held at the end of three consecutive two-term presidencies. In 1824, it was John Quincy Adams staving off a populist challenge from Andrew Jackson, the man who statue sits in Lafayette Park, across the street from the North Portico of the White House.That race was bitter and ended with talk of a rigged system (a “corrupt bargain” between Adams and House Speaker Henry Clay). Four years later, Jackson rode the revolution into Washington, the tip of the spear of voter resentment against a political class that had dominated the first 50 years of the republic. This could be a scenario in 2020. Much to everyone’s surprise, the revolution came four years ahead of schedule, with the unlikeliest of generals leading the charge.
- Invite Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders for a private lunch.
- Meet With GOP Thought Leaders. Embody a posture that indicates willingness to work with a Republican Congress. Some members will be on board right away; for others, it will take time (hint: handing out presidential goodies has a way of healing wounds).
- Getting Republican thought leaders on board – the commentary class whose support will come in handy when it’s time to rally the party behind a first-term agenda.
- Publicly indicate his interest in sitting down with President Obama and to discuss the amicable transition process.
- Travel back to the unlikeliest states that delivered for him on Election Day and hold large rallies – both to thank the voters and explain the greater mission ahead to change Washington’s culture. I’d add in a couple of rallies in states that didn’t vote for him, just to underscore that he wants to be a president for the entire people.
- Seize the Moment to reflect on what this means and the magnanimity that is attached to it.
- And attempt to act on his promises one way or the other by:
- Cancelling the Paris climate accord, if he can dare do that..
- scrapping energy regulations…
- approving the Keystone pipeline..
- reversing coal leasing moratoriums on federal lands….
- kill the Iran nuclear deal, a fancy wish…
- Offer a Pragmatic Agenda. Those three consecutive two-term presidencies were marked by consistency and comity, the final stretch of the run dubbed the “Era of Good Feelings”.
- Bill Clinton and Barack Obama almost didn’t get that second term because they bit off more than they could chew once they took office. For each, a big reach on health care reform would have devastating consequences I midterm elections.
- Trump doesn’t lack bold and provocative ideas – most notably, building that wall along the southern border. But can he do that?
- Promised interesting Tax reforms, can he do that?
- Promising a new course on defense spending and national security, can he do that?
- Repealing and replacing ObamaCare? Can he do that really?
He should start with the easy picking, the bipartisan consensus on Tax looks like a more than anything else that is has proposed. And the promise of new revenue will help justify any extra dough Trump wants to spend on a Pentagon buildup or an infrastructure blueprint.
Can Trump succeed at all of the above? It helps that the media will usher him into office with brutally low expectations. If he gets to work, takes the job seriously and begins to make headway in a horribly divided town, that bar has nowhere to go but up.