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Politics : A Real American President: Ron DeSantis
USA 7.025-0.6%3:54 PM EDT

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From: Joachim K11/12/2022 8:54:22 PM
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Conrad Black: Donald Trump should pass the torch to Ron DeSantis

Conrad Black

Nov 12, 2022

Supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate for Florida Ron DeSantis cheer during an election night watch party at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, on November 8, 2022.

Having predicted last week in this space a seismic shock in the American midterm elections, and no such shock having occurred, I owe an acknowledgment of my mistaken prediction and an updated assessment. Few people are more tiresome or more frequently encountered than those who are fiercely averse to admitting a mistake: I believe in the utility of confession. Though the Democratic Party, between the administration and its leadership of both houses of the Congress produced utterly incompetent government for nearly two years, its leaders have skillfully managed the escape of most of their congressional and gubernatorial candidates from the opprobrium that they have earned. The Republicans are likely to win the House of Representatives and still could either tie or narrowly win control of the Senate, but the Democrats have almost created the impression of a miraculous electoral Dunkirk evacuation from impending disaster. They have used Trump-hate and defamation as a substitute for government for two years, and it largely covered their escape from accountability on Tuesday.

The midterm elections were, unforeseen by me, as much a referendum on Donald Trump as upon President Joe Biden, and the question was particularly confused because of the internecine Republican struggle between Trump and his supporters, those who endorse Trump’s policies but not Trump, and those who still become wobbly at the knees with nostalgia for the Bush-Clinton days when the U.S. government was effectively a grand coalition between both parties with members of both those families alternating for over 30 years in the great offices of American government.

The heavy defeat of the one prominent overtly anti-Trump candidate for serious office on Tuesday, Joseph O’Dea, senatorial candidate in Colorado, illustrates again that Trump is first in the hearts of committed Republicans. But the inability of the Republicans to gain a substantial majority in either house of Congress confirms that his appeal does not go beyond his strenuous adherents, and he repels as many votes as he attracts. In these circumstances, the American system sensibly assured that the Democrats are deprived of their ability to continue to inflict their far left program on the country, and Biden will run out the clock for the next two years as a lame-duck president with the two parties in a state of relative equilibrium.

No one could claim that what occurred on Tuesday was any sort of a vote of confidence for the administration. The polls generally proved quite accurate in predicting election results and there is no reason to doubt that they were also accurate in indicating that three quarters of Americans are dissatisfied with the trajectory of the country and a substantial majority do not approve of the president or the Congress. As the polls also suggest, the majority does not think that Donald Trump is the answer either. The important unambiguously good news is that by far the largest midterm voting turnout in American history has gone off without any complaints or evidence of skulduggery. This, incidentally reduces to utter nonsense all the hysterical bunk about democracy being on the ballot. The so-called Jim Crow voting changes in Georgia have been a huge success.

As persevering readers of this column would know, I have steadily supported Donald Trump because of his policy positions, as well as for reasons of long-standing personal friendship. In policy terms, he was right to oppose illegal immigration, oil imports, and to effectively end unemployment-by incentivizing through the tax system job-creating investment in the low income areas of America, and moving millions of unemployed into the workforce.

He was both right and courageous in resisting the assault upon the oil and gas industries while steadily tightening anti-pollution standards, and he was right to strengthen national defence, toughen sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and make it clear that if necessary the United States would remove the nuclear military capabilities of those countries by conventional military force. He tackled the much-needed reform of the American criminal justice system by greater leniency on first time nonviolent offenders while assisting municipalities in strengthening law enforcement.

In all of the cacophonous debate about threats to democracy, the crowning infamy has been the widespread attempt, jubilantly supported by a distressing number of anti-Trump Republicans, to represent that on January 6, 2021 Trump premeditatedly incited an insurrection, when, in fact, he urged his followers to demonstrate peacefully.

Trump has many foibles as a public personality that are unseemly for the holder of a great office and jangling to the nerves of tasteful people, though his blunt acerbities and jocularities also entertainingly puncture the pomposity of many public officials. His enemies have less integrity, talent, and originality than he does, and many are afflicted by putrefied political ethics. His attempt to elect many proteges and strengthen his control of the Republicans was a bold stroke, but it didn’t succeed, and he was bypassed by his former protégé, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It is accordingly with regret that I tentatively conclude that it would be better if he passed the baton of his policy innovations and his influence over his huge political following to DeSantis, a rival, who demonstrated on Tuesday by defeating a former governor of his state by 1.5 million votes (about 20 points), a reward for an outstanding term as governor, that he is a worthy continuator of the best aspects of the Trump legacy, but is almost invulnerable to the storm of obloquy that engulfs Trump. Trump was a very competent president and was driven from office unjustly, and the temptations to continue the titanic struggle to regain the presidency are obvious and legitimate. But the national interest as well as his own interest might now be better served by a dignified transition to a proven successor who has many of Trump’s strengths and few of his negative qualities. His enemies have lived on Trump-hate for too long; they should be deprived of this cover and made to pay for their failures. Even more than with most American presidents, history will be much kinder to Donald Trump than his contemporaries have been.

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