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Trump Needs to Share Credit for Victories

Trump Needs to Share Credit for Victories
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Republican members of Congress as he speak about the passage of a tax reform legislation on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., December 20, 2017. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

By Friday, 22 December 2017 12:38 PM Current | Bio | Archive

President Donald Trump managed his first major legislative victory this week with the passage of a massive tax overhaul. It was no mean accomplishment. But watching the spectacle of senior members of Congress verbally prostrating themselves before him on the lawn of the White House shortly after final passage of the bill made my skin crawl. Let me be clear: I favored the bill, even with its many shortcomings and its failure to deliver a big tax cut to the middle class as promised. I did so because I still believe that economic growth is the best way to advance the fortunes of all Americans, rich and poor, old and young, and everyone in between. The corporate tax cut was the heart of this legislation, and I expect it will deliver on the promise of incremental growth in gross domestic product as companies invest their savings by expanding.

Nonetheless, the obsequiousness of members of Congress at the White House celebration was creepy. For Sen. Orrin Hatch — for whom I have had the deepest respect for some 30 years, ever since I got to know him during my days in the Reagan administration — to suggest Trump may go down in history as the nation's greatest president nearly brought tears to my eyes. But Hatch wasn't alone. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and nearly a dozen others felt it necessary to heap effusive praise on Trump. It was a scene that would have seemed fitting in Pyongyang, where even ordinary citizens must prove their devotion once a year by placing flowers at and bowing beneath the statues of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, and his son the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, on Mansu Hill. Trump should have been embarrassed by it, but instead he basked in the glory.

The scene crystalized for me my great discomfort with the Trump presidency. President Trump has done much that I agree with. He is engaged in broad regulatory reform, from business to education. He's appointed judges from federal district courts to the Supreme Court who, I hope, will show more deference to the Constitution and the laws as written than many of the judges appointed by Barack Obama. He's made some good appointments within the administration. Most importantly, he has allowed the military to do its job and helped vanquish the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. (Of course, there are other issues on which I have profound disagreement, especially on immigration and trade.) On policy, I'd give him decent marks — but I'd still give him a failing grade overall because of the harm I think he's doing to the institution of the presidency.

America has sometimes revered its presidents — Washington, Lincoln, FDR and even Reagan come to mind — but it has never built a cult of personality around the men themselves. Yet Trump seems to be trying hard to set a precedent for exactly that. It is no accident that every Cabinet meeting starts with a round-robin of praise for Trump, often led by Vice President Mike Pence, whose brown-nosing would be more befitting of an insecure aide-de-camp than the second-highest official in the land. What is most disconcerting about the ritual obeisance of Donald Trump is the sure knowledge that many of those singing his praises don't believe a word of what they're saying. They do it to keep him happy, hoping that it will steer him along a straight path and prevent him from veering off in temper tantrums and distracting the country from what is important.

The president of the United States shouldn't be treated as a spoiled child. President Trump seems not to have learned much in his first year in office about what it means to be presidential, and he won't as long as those around him behave like lackeys. He deserves credit where it is due — and the tax bill is surely a victory — but he should be the one praising those who helped him get it done, not the other way around. He'd do well to remember one of President Reagan's favorite sayings: "There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit."

Linda Chavez is chairwoman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a nonprofit public policy research organization in Falls Church, Va.; a syndicated columnist; and a political analyst. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics." For more of her reports, Go Here Now.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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President Donald Trump managed his first major legislative victory this week with the passage of a massive tax overhaul. It was no mean accomplishment.
trump, tax, leader, reagan, kim
Friday, 22 December 2017 12:38 PM
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