Tucker Carlson, a hardline political conservative, is a highly successful prime time host for Fox News Channel.
Mr. Carlson strongly supports much of what President Trump has promised to accomplish. But he is very unhappy about Mr. Trump’s inability to accomplish several of his major promises – and highly critical of Mr. Trump for what he perceives as the reasons why.
The following exchange took place during a Tuesday interview with Urs Gehriger, who writes for the Swiss weekly, Die Weltwoche:
Gehriger: Do you think he has kept his promises? Has he achieved his goals?
Gehriger: He hasn’t?
Carlson: No. His chief promises were that he would build the wall, de-fund planned parenthood, and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things. There are a lot of reasons for that, but since I finished writing the book, I’ve come to believe that Trump’s role is not as a conventional president who promises to get certain things achieved to the Congress and then does. I don’t think he’s capable. I don’t think he’s capable of sustained focus. I don’t think he understands the system. I don’t think the Congress is on his side. I don’t think his own agencies support him. He’s not going to do that.
I think Trump’s role is to begin the conversation about what actually matters. We were not having any conversation about immigration before Trump arrived in Washington. People were bothered about it in different places in the country. It’s a huge country, but that was not a staple of political debate at all. Trump asked basic questions like’ “Why don’t our borders work?” “Why should we sign a trade agreement and let the other side cheat?” Or my favorite of all, “What’s the point of NATO?” The point of NATO was to keep the Soviets from invading western Europe but they haven’t existed in 27 years, so what is the point? These are obvious questions that no one could answer.
Gehriger: Apart from asking these very important questions has he really achieved nothing?
Carlson: Not much. Not much. Much less than he should have. I’ve come to believe he’s not capable of it.
Gehriger: Why should he be not capable?
Carlson: Because the legislative process in this country by design is highly complex, and it’s designed to be complex as a way of diffusing power, of course, because the people who framed our Constitution, founded our country, were worried about concentrations of power. They balanced it among the three branches as you know and they made it very hard to make legislation. In order to do it you really have to understand how it works and you have to be very focused on getting it done, and he knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t and surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do so. It’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things. I’m not in charge of Trump.
There is a lot more than this, which is why I strongly recommend you click here to read the entire interview.
Now: is Tucker Carlson too harsh on President Trump?
I think he is….but not by much.
On Trump’s side, for example, repeal of Obamacare went down to defeat only because John McCain, who (with good reason) despised Trump, “got back at him” by voting against it. That wasn’t Trump’s fault, it was McCain putting personal vindictiveness above his own stated beliefs.
But, for the most part, I have to say that Mr. Carlson has things right. Donald Trump is a self-promoting bloviator, who talks in superlatives, very often without facts to back up what he says. And bloviating from the hip is not the way to get things done in Washington D.C.
Regularly readers know that, for years, I have called Donald Trump “the world’s richest barroom loudmouth”. Even after two years in the oval office, that still goes (though I recently revised it to “the world’s most powerful barroom loudmouth”).
…this is not to say Mr. Trump has been an ineffective president. He has a series of remarkable achievements under his belt.
Unemployment is at or near all-time lows, the Supreme Court is appreciably more constructionist, NATO is finally starting to pay its share of costs, NAFTA is reworked much more fairly to us, North Korea returned our hostages and is dialoguing with South Korea for the first time since 1953, he is forcing China’s hand on trade – a battle it seems certain he will win, he moved our Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – which was supposed to have been done 25 years ago but no other President had the guts to follow through on, and more.
There are probably people who will counter Tucker Carlson’s criticism by pointing to the above achievements and saying that they happened precisely because President Trump has not focused on the legislative process – i.e. he has not become more of a Washington swamp dweller/he has stayed outside that loop and remained a plainspoken maverick. That is a very valid point of view.
These same people might also tell you that, hey, we are still less than half-way through one term of his presidency, and now – with a more decisive Republican majority in the senate (both numerically, and support-wise) – he can get these things done. That is a very valid point as well.
We’ve got over two more years of this presidential term to go. And what Trump does during those two (or maybe six) years will be infinitely more important than all the opinions, both positive and negative, of his performance so far.
So let’s wait and see how things play out. What other choice do we have?