RealClearPolicy Newsletters: Original Articles

Taking Trump Literally and Seriously

Taking Trump Literally and Seriously
AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File

Dear Reader —

“The press takes [Trump] literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” Salena Zito’s pithy characterization rang true for many during the presidential campaign. It’s odd, though, if true, when you consider that many Trump supporters praise the president for “saying it like it is” — a phrase that’s hardly synonymous with speaking in metaphors. With one month in office today, President Trump has proved that he deserves to be taken seriously, and, perhaps, also literally

But many on the Right still insist that Democrats and the media focus too much on what Trump says. Look instead, they suggest, at what he does — the cabinet appointments, the content of his executive orders, the push for deregulation. The strategy of some congressional Republicans appears to follow suit: Let the president say what he wants; focus on conservative policy. Many on the Left, by contrast, insist that what Trump says — and how he says it — is precisely what matters. Thus congressional Democrats seem bent on opposing a president even when some of his policy priorities align with their own, from manufacturing and entitlements to infrastructure and trade. 

November should have taught us that politics and policy cannot be so easily separated — at least in a democracy. Perhaps we are not yet taking Trump seriously, after all.

These are some of the many issues taken up at RealClearPolicy over the past week. Below you will find just a few highlights.

— M. Anthony Mills, editor | RealClearPolicy


Trump’s Supporters Should Have Taken Him Literally. The New Republic’s Jeet Heer contends that the mainstream media was right to take Trump’s campaign promises “literally” after all.

Trump Is Like Andrew Johnson, Not Andrew Jackson. In The Washington Post, Charles Lane makes the case for a less favorable historical comparison.

Democrats Should Practice “Strategic Co-Opposition.” Washington Monthly’s Anne Kim charts a course for congressional Democrats in the era of Trump. 

Dems: Stop Copying GOP Obstruction Tactics. In the Los Angeles Times, Jon Huntsman and Joe Lieberman urge congressional Democrats to aim for compromise, rather than obstruction. 

Trump's Infrastructure Plan Will Create More Flints. In our own pages, Michael Tiboris warns of more water crises if Trump’s infrastructure proposals go forward. 

Trump Has Brought European-Style Nationalism to the U.S. In National Review, Ben Shapiro argues that Trump’s nationalism is incompatible with American conservatism.

Our Faint-Hearted Nationalists. In First Things, Pete Spiliakos contends that a conservative nationalism is needed to counter “left-wing cosmopolitanism.”

We Want Workers. We Must Form Citizens. For The University Bookman, Richard M. Reinsch II places our current immigration debates in historical context.

Will Trump Force Dems to Abandon Faith in Federal Gov’t? City Journal’s Steven Malanga considers whether Democrats under Trump will follow the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan in seeking a “new federalism.” 

Trump's Hiring Freeze Will Help, Not Harm the FDA. Also in our own pages, Michael T. Hamilton contends that executive orders reducing federal regulations and freezing federal hiring could help rein in the Food & Drug Administration.

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