Subscribe for 33¢ / day

The instant analysis on cable TV of President Donald Trump’s decision to dump the Iran deal had a weary resignation to it: He said he would do this.

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

Indeed, he had. Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail to pull out of the deal and had made it a target from the time that President Barack Obama first entered into it in 2015.

His exit from the agreement is another instance of the Trump paradox: The president who says more outlandish and untrue things than anyone who has ever occupied the office of the presidency is also extraordinarily determined to deliver on his big promises.

Trump often doesn’t mean what he says, but when he says what he means — watch out. The combined forces of international pressure, polite opinion, outraged New York Times editorials, resistant advisers and sheer inertia aren’t an obstacle.

Many of Trump’s loose promises in the campaign weren’t remotely deliverable (he was never going to drop Bowe Bergdahl out of an airplane over Afghanistan with no parachute).

But on his signature pledges, he’s been committed, usually more than anyone around him. He’s been particularly stalwart on those promises that require blasting through entrenched conventional wisdom and elite resistance.

What was most remarkable about Trump’s promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy there wasn’t that he said it — every recent president made similar sounds — but that he actually did it.

George W. Bush said in 2000 that “as soon as I take office I will begin the process of moving the U.S. ambassador to the city that Israel has chosen as its capital.” Bill Clinton said he supported “the principle” of moving the embassy there. Barack Obama was more circumspect, although he said that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel.”

On this, Trump was more a man of his word than all of his predecessors.

One line of criticism of Trump from the right is that he’s just doing what any other Republican president would do (with lots of uniquely Trumpian baggage). But it’s not at all clear that another GOP president, even if he was on record favoring these moves, would have pulled out of the Paris climate accord and withstood the howls about imperiling the planet; or ended DACA despite all the media pressure to keep it; or exited the Iran deal with the Europeans waging an intense lobbying campaign in its favor.

It wasn’t simply that these decisions had opponents. Their opponents were overrepresented in (allegedly) sophisticated circles with disproportionate cultural clout. Even conservatives who disdain the elite feel this cultural pull. Whereas Trump, who has never been housetrained as a politician, is more immune to it. He might crave the approval of respectable opinion, but he’s also perfectly content to outrage it.

So, he is following through where others might equivocate or back off.

Of course, Trump is not, as a general matter, scrupulous with his words. Even when he’s being relatively rigorous, he piles superlatives on top of exaggeration in what the real estate business calls, delicately, “puffery.” He’ll simply make up things to wound his adversaries, and he’s not telling the truth about the Stormy Daniels controversy.

Yet he is taking seriously the most important things he told his voters he’d do if elected, a key element of his bond with his base. They aren’t always within his power to deliver, especially anything involving Congress. It clearly drives him crazy that on his most famous (and unrealizable) promise, to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, he can’t even get some photogenic construction going.

When Trump was elected, it seemed he might be endlessly flexible and up for grabs. He certainly is willing to say anything at any time. But he hasn’t shifted or shrunk from the core commitments that defined his candidacy. So far, “he said he would do this” has been a remarkably reliable guide to the Trump agenda.

Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

0
0
0
0
2

(17) comments

GrandpaS

One other point I could make is his promise to "clean the swamp." Over 60 members of his staff or cabinet or advisors or appointees didn't last a year on the job. Pruitt is destroying the whole point of the EPA and feeding his own wallet in the process. Flynn has charges against him. Records have come up showing that Trump paid women not to tell about his sexual exploits with them. Many cabinet members with no experience or knowledge in a given field appointed to department heads. It just goes on and on. There has been more manure in the swamp since he took office than can be described or listed.

GrandpaS

YES! I read this column Sunday but didn't have time to comment on it. Others have, and they pretty much covered what I was going to say. Wall financed by Mexico? Even as he was making those promises, Mexico was saying, "No, we're not going to finance that." And they didn't. My best-in-history medical care and more affordable prices? Still waiting. Our best-in-history tax reform that will generate more jobs than any other legislation in history? Not. And the promises he did keep, like pulling us out of the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, have been widely criticized not only by American experts, but by a long list of other countries as well, most of them our allies who now think America has become untrustworthy. I could go on, but, like I said, I'd just be repeating the points others here have already made. Trump seams to have played a part in getting those 3 Americans home from North Korea and may actually accomplish something in negotiations with North Korea, but that's about all I can think of for positive accomplishments. Most everything else he's done has been detrimental to the US.

hrpufnstuf

My favorite "kept promise" is "Mexico will pay for it"!

awol2009

new2, what about tRump's 60 Minutes interview in 2016 about "his" better health care plan where "everyone will be covered and cost FAR less!"???? Obama didn't lie, the insurance industry circumvented the plans by either dropping coverage or discontinuing plans altogether, because their skeleton plans would not meet the terms set within the ACA. tRump lies as freely as he breathes. He lied about not taking many vacations, would not take as many golf trips as Obama, lied about fully divesting his business interests, lied about conflicts of interest and violates the emoluments clause in our Constitution daily. He violated the Iran deal with international interests at risk, as well as risking lives of American hostages there. The crazy tariff talks with China are putting dire financial strains on Midwest farmers, orders for IA soybeans are canceled. The Carrier deal in IN? It was a bust and hundreds of jobs went to Mexico anyway. The meager tax deal savings from the tax deal for middle class workers? They are losing it to their gas tanks as Trump's poor decisions are driving up gasoline prices. The list is much longer of his lies and broken promises.

GrandpaS

@awol: You nailed it. Your list provides an excellent reality check. Did you read this list, new2lax? I'm afraid it's accurate.

new2Lax

Homey just said Obama did lie about health care and now you are saying he didn't. You boys better get together on this. The economy is humming, GDP is up, unemployment down, Korea's in the bag, China is buckling on tariffs, Iran is quaking in their boots, Embassy is now in Jerusalem, military is getting stronger, taxes are down markets are booming, consumer sentiment is up, Trumps poll numbers are up, FBI and DOJ conspirators either fired, suspended or demoted, only Russia collusion so far is with Hillary Clinton and the DNC, the generic polling has the Republicans within two points going into the 2018 mid terms it was 16% at one point. So yes, Trump certainly deserves a vacation now and then, with results like this. Good grief and it's only been a year. We didn't even mention the reduction in illegal immigration the denuclearization North Korea, getting out of the Iran nuclear debacle. I'm not sure the terrorists will give back the 150 billion Obama gave them but I suspect knowing Trump he may try. GAS prices are to low anyway and any tax cut will help.

oldhomey

Oh, we'll get together on this at our next Wednesday night strategy meeting at a secret downtown location you will never get me to reveal, new2. We (GrandpaS, Cassandra, kingman, physics, oldhomey etal.) have our work cut out for us. I don't know how we can sweep under the rug the fact that Obama presided over one of the longest continuous economic growth periods in the national history, handing it off to Trump. That is SO embarrassing to liberals. Same for Obama handing off the lowering unemployment rates. And Korea, for Pete's sake! Trump has ALREADY made it a done deal, in the bag! By the way, do you know what the deal is? And China, my gosh, just buckling all over the place in the face of Trump! Could you give us some examples, though, of it buckling to see if we have some handy talking points to come back with? Iran, my gosh, have you ever seen a nation quake with such fear?? Have you, in fact, every seen Iran? And now that the embassy in Jerusalem, peace certainly is at hand in Israel, as we have seen the last couple of days. The military is dominant, overseen by the only president who knows more than the generals do, taxes are already down for your friend Climatehoax, even though the tax cuts are not yet in effect, Trump's polling numbers are off the charts, spurting up toward 40 percent, Trump has exposed the FBI and DOJ as enemies of the people and not to be trusted or supported in any way, and Hillary is almost certainly on her way to prison. So what can we do to counter all this great work and accomplishment by Donald Trump at our next meeting at John's on Third Street? Man! He has built a helluva a mountain for us liberals to climb. And he does it with tireless four working hours a day for practically four days a week, so of course the president deserves to be flown with an entourage of hundreds to his resorts for three-day weekends every week. And so what if taxpayers foot the bills, including the millions charged to them at the Trump-owned luxury resorts that he prefers to weekend at?

oldhomey

Obama admitted he misspoke about keeping your doctor. When have you heard Trump ever apologize for anything he has ever said? His reaction to one of his top aides saying they didn't care what Sen. McCain said because he would soon be dead? Trump'e reaction was pure Queen of Hearts, spluttering that they would track down the the rat who "leaked" what the aide said and impose severe punishment. What he didn't mention was that the aide said this in a meeting of Trump's White House people, which would mean the leaker was one of his own people, somebody alarmed by the heartlessness of the statement. Trump didn't see it that way.

Cassandra2

Which word? It' so hard to keep track of all the lies.

kingman10

#45 also said he would go after high prices on prescription meds. The plan he laid out this past week is pathetic, it is designed to increase the profits of big pharma., does very little for the average joe. He is also gutting environmental protections so big corporations can rape our natural resources bigley. He said he would not touch social security and medicare, don't bet on it. The tax scheme he signed is a farce with most of it going to the very wealthy, and increasing the deficit at an unprecedented rate. Yes he is a man of his word, especially when he said the KKK and fascists have very fine people he really meant it.

new2Lax

You can bet Trumps promises will be kept, not like the promises of Obama, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your current health plan, each family’s healthcare will be 2500 dollars per year less. Now those are real lies. Those that pay the most should get the most in return, sounds fair to me.
I

oldhomey

Obama, history showed, was wrong on those two elements, new2. You cite them at every opportunity. Have you got more? Two errors in eight years would be a pretty good record for anybody. Do you want the enumeration lies that Trump has told since he took office? The people keeping tabs on him are at 6,000 and counting, and he isn't even a year and a half into his term. Tell us how you were personally injured by Obama's miscalculations on healthcare. Those that get the most should pay back the most in return. Sounds like the fair and decent thing to me, especially if you are a Christian, a religion I was raised in, though I believe every religion would align with that sentiment, too.

oldhomey

Cat got your tongue, new2? Our you out in the weeds hunting for it?

new2Lax

It isn't me personally, it's the majority of folks having to choose an Obama care plan. I'm keeping track of Trump and he has the country humming according to any measure you want to name and he did it in a year. If one more thing Obama screwed up gets eliminated, there will be no need for an Obama library and the last thing I would like to see is him returning the Nobel Prize.

kingman10

oh new2 your worshiping of#45 sounds more childish each day. This country was humming long before your deity took office. Obama did extend health care insurance to 30 million more Americans, thereby saving many lives. Doubt if your #45 will ever come close to that. Still waiting for the better/cheaper health insurance he promised over and over again.

oldhomey

Oh, kingman, we have to face reality and concede that new2 has us cornered on Obamacare. Thirty million people forced to enrol in healthcare plans after decades of not being able to get health insurance. They were SO mad at Obama! And they have been SO grateful to the GOP for doing everything it could to sabotage Obamacare from its inception, finding ways to raise its premiums year after year while reducing benefits. Boy! Now the Republicans have those 30 million voters worrying about healthcare once again firmly and warmly in their embrace, waiting to vote for Republican candidates in the 2018 elections. It is so disheartening. See you at John's on Wednesday.

kingman10

yep see you at johns, at 7 pm right? Time to regroup and recoup the narrative from new2. He is just too much for one person to handle, to much stupidity that is. So far we haven't stooped to his gutter level ignorance. Will have to review what is on the agenda in the coming weeks, and review old business, and vote on some by laws. Should be fun!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thanks for reading. Subscribe or log in to continue.