This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for many things - but when it comes to politics, I am especially thankful that Hillary Clinton is not sitting in the Oval Office.
I am thankful that Neil M. Gorsuch is on the Supreme Courtand that President Donald Trump has secured a conservative majority that will protect human life, religious liberty, the Second Amendment and limited government. I am also thankful the president is moving at record pace to fill the federal appeals courts with young conservative judges. While the Supreme Court only hears about 80 cases a year, the federal appeals courts get final say on about 60,000 - and because Democrats ended the filibuster, they can’t stop Trump from filling those courts with conservative legal rock stars. The Senate has already confirmed eight of Trump’s nine appellate nominees - the most this early in a presidency since Richard Nixon - and Trump will appoint plenty more before his first term expires. As former Clinton adviser Ronald A. Klain complained in The Post, “the next two generations of Americans will live under laws interpreted by hundreds of [Trump-appointed] judges.”
That alone is worth it. But there is more to be thankful for.
I’m thankful the New York Times’s Linda Greenhouse is complaining that Trump has appointed so many “individuals who have devoted their adult lifetimes to the anti-abortion cause” that federal agencies now resemble an “outpost of the National Right to Life Committee.”
While Congress could not repeal Obamacare, I’m thankful that failure now makes passage of conservative tax reform more likely, because House and Senate Republicans know that failure to do so is political suicide. And I’m thankful we have a president who is ready to sign that tax reform into law.
I’m thankful that Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, is dismantling President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, clearing the way for the Keystone XL pipeline, and undertaking the largest regulatory rollback in the EPA’s 46-year history.
I am thankful Trump has secured the release of American citizens imprisoned by China, North Korea, Egypt and the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network - without releasing senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay.
I am thankful that Trump finally enforced Obama’s red line on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, took the shackles off of our military in the fight against the Islamic State, got NATO allies to kick in $12 billion more for our collective security, imposed new sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, requested emergency funding for ballistic missile defense, declared North Korea a terrorist state, and sent a clear message to Pyongyang that it will not be permitted to threaten American cities with nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. His foreign policy is far from perfect, but it is a marked improvement over the Obama-Clinton approach.
Trump hasn’t ushered in a new era of American isolationism. And despite the dire warnings of creeping authoritarianism, there are no gulags in the United States today. Quite the opposite, there are plenty of checks on Trump’s power. Federal judges have narrowed his travel ban, blocked his cut of funding for sanctuary cities, and stopped his ban on transgender troops. He has not changed libel laws to go after a free press, restored waterboarding, or built his border wall. Heck, he could not even repeal Obamacare. Our system of Constitutional checks and balances works — in some cases, too well.
The republic will survive the Trump presidency, and so will the Republican Party. I don’t buy the argument that Trump is doing irreversible damage to the GOP or the Republican brand. Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, and six years later we were inaugurating Ronald Reagan and then it was Morning in America again. If Trump does end up dragging the Republican Party down, all it takes is one great leader to resurrect it.
In the meantime, I want Trump’s presidency to be a success. Trump was not my first choice for president (or my second . . . or third . . . or fourth), and I am well aware of his many deep flaws. When he is wrong, I have called him out and will continue to do so. But I want Trump to fill the courts with conservative judges, reform the tax code, take on North Korea, counter Iran, defeat Islamist radicalism, roll back the regulatory state, expand school choice, and protect the unborn. And I’m thankful that because of his election, we are making progress on these fronts - and that Clinton is hawking books for a living.
That is something worth celebrating this Thanksgiving.