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Politics & Policy

The Joy of Quiet, Busy, Out-of-the-Spotlight Trump

From the first Morning Jolt since the morning after Election Day . . . 

The Joy of Quiet, Busy, Out-of-the-Spotlight Trump

One of the most surprising, pleasant, and reassuring parts of the infant Trump presidency is how little we’re seeing the president-elect. That sounds like a joke at his expense, but I mean it as a genuine compliment. The parade of GOP officials and prominent figures hustling through the Trump Tower lobby indicates that Trump and his top advisers are actually hard at work on the transition. They’re taking the gargantuan, complicated task before them seriously. No victory lap, no early reveling in the role of celebrity-in-chief, just the occasional tweet. So far, this looks like a nascent administration that intends to govern, and not just continue the era of the Permanent Campaign.

Thanksgiving approaches, and with it the memory of Thanksgiving 2009, when President Obama completed his second straight year of full-spectrum media dominance, popping up relentlessly in every corner of the news and pop culture. It was about midway through the early NFL game — the Detroit Lions were undoubtedly losing to somebody — when television screens across the country showed us this . . . 

. . . slow-motion video of President Obama intercepting Drew Brees’s pass to a kid on the White House lawn. (In some ways, this was a perfect unintended metaphor.) Yes, yes, Thanksgiving is a time of generosity, and United We Serve is this wonderful idea, kids should run around and get exercise, yadda yadda yadda. But once again, the visage of Dear Leader just had to pop up in an apolitical setting to remind us hapless unwashed to be good to each other. Any grumbling from those of us not so enamored with the Munificent Sun-King were rebuked with the accusation that we inaccurately saw politics in a strictly apolitical message. (Strictly apolitical messages don’t require political figures. Unless you think New Jersey’s “Stronger than the Storm” tourism ad campaign absolutely, positively required Governor Chris Christie, then running for reelection, and his family to be the ones saying into the camera, “stronger than the storm.”)

Trump is already proving he’s capable of surprises. His willingness to meet, and perhaps hire, formerly critical voices like Mitt Romney, Nikki Haley, and Rick Perry suggests a magnanimous spirit and mission-focused philosophy that was almost entirely missing from his persona on the campaign trail. If you had said to me months ago, that a Trump presidency would have Romney, Haley, and Perry in top positions, perhaps Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court, Bobby Jindal in the mix for Health and Human Services, Michelle Rhee as secretary of edu­ca­tion, David Petraeus coming back into government service, perhaps John Bol­ton as secretary of state, James N. Mattis as secretary of defense . . . and Reince Preibus keeping the plates spinning and running the daily schedule . . . man, that’s a lot more appealing than just the man himself.

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