The Corner

Wondering about Trump

I’m not a regular reader of the Wall Street Journal. ​But most every Saturday, I go to Honeymoon Bakery on Broad Street in Rome, Ga. There, you not only get a fine breakfast but get to read the New York Times and WSJ for free.

There’s a lot to wonder about this morning.

Peggy Noonan reminds us that Trump won the election precisely because he wasn’t your usual conservative — especially as defined by the WSJ — but a kind of singular center-right candidate. The populist component of this amalgam is what pushed him over the top.

Well, we also read the allegation that it was the Russians with their hacking and leaking that pushed him over the top. I have no idea whether it’s true that the Russians made a deliberate effort to intervene in our political process to get Trump elected. It might well be true, and the Republicans should join in the investigation of that possibility.

If those WikiLeaks did influence the outcome of the election, it would be along these lines: Clinton was revealed to be a secret suck-up to Goldman Sachs and all too attuned to its elitist, globalist priorities. Those leaks actually reassured some moderate Republicans and libertarian economists that Clinton wouldn’t be so bad as president. But they also reinforced the Bernie Sanders narrative about Clinton being a tool of Wall Street, a narrative that contributed to the flipping in the rust-belt states as well as to keeping some Bernie enthusiasts home on Election Day. And certainly a significant part of Trump’s campaign was trumpeting that his opponents — such as Cruz and Clinton — were on the Goldman Sachs take in the way Bernie charged.

But now, Trump is hiring Goldman Sachs guys, including its president! It’s tempting to say: the new boss, same as the old boss. And chosen for secretary of labor is a fast-food executive who thinks of citizenship (or Americans clamoring about unfair competition from immigrant labor) as just another form of rent-seeking, someone who thinks just like the economists at the WSJ.

Not to mention a secretary of education who’s not only “the scourge of the teachers’ unions” but from a family that’s been hugely about taking out unions in general, including those of the families that flipped for Trump. Finally for now, the top Exxon executive for secretary of state, someone who might readily confuse making business deals with dealing with the leader of a sovereign nation (nobody’s more sovereign that Putin) over national security issues. All in all, a key member of the globalized elite especially adept at doing huge business with Russia.

What’s happened to Trump’s “a country is a country,” someone might ask?

I’m not being judgmental here, and I’m actually convinced that Trump is trying hard to pick the best people. But he’s a whole lot more conservative in the WSJ sense than populist than many of his supporters would have supposed.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...