Contrast two storylines dominating the mainstream news today. The first, not surprisingly, involves President Trump and something he said during immigration negotiations. The maelstrom around a meeting at the White House and fecal comments regarding individuals from certain Third World countries was all-consuming in the papers and on television—so consuming that Sen. Charles Schumer and many of his Senate cohorts miscalculated and shutdown the federal government. What an eventual embarrassment when they had to face the realization that most Americans were not having our federal government shutting down over the issues of DACA and immigration. When asked if avoiding a shutdown or continuing DACA was more important, most Americans said they preferred keeping the government open rather than finding a solution to the DACA problem, according to a CNN SSRS poll.
The second storyline subtly moving simultaneously is one of change. The institutions of government and the levers of power are slowly, methodically at work, executing on an agenda that for all intents and purposes is very—well—Republican and conservative in nature.
The headline above the fold in a recent edition of The New York Times says it all: “Republican Bill Curtails Reach of Bank Rules.” Although that article focused on banking regulations propped up in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, a larger picture is coming into focus. Put another way, a GOP-led Congress and administration are effectuating and reversing decades of regulatory creep. Washington bureaucrats have quietly been pouring sand in the engines of economic growth and enterprise for too long, and the Trump administration is finally doing something about it. Whether on bank rules, environmental policies, federal land grabs, immigration, in every instance, you see an executive branch saying, “Enough is enough” and turning around these runaway policies. The economy is responding favorably and no one is dying in the streets.
Which leads me to my larger point: These issues are what Americans care most about—policy, not personality—and they are what this White House should spend the next three years focused on. I promise, if the Trump administration, and the president himself, focus more on the day-to-day initiatives that drive America and Americans, the mainstream media will have no choice but to follow suit. They’ll be forced to spend more time on the federal government’s actions and what that means to the average citizen, and less time reporting on just how many hours a day the president spends in front of a television. Who cares? Move on.
The lesson had to be learned the hard way. The more Trump tweets and comments cavalierly, the more his political opponents—and that includes the press—will be sharpening their knives. Trump’s tweets and visibility disappeared during the Schumer shutdown weekend and the GOP Congress was victorious as a result.
Again, just look at the immigration meeting last week with a bipartisan group of legislators. Sen. Richard Durbin leaked that inappropriate (and gutter) comment by the president because he knew it would make Trump look bad. And yet he made that political calculation presumably not weighing the fallout. Durbin didn’t advance the Dreamers conversation 1 inch toward a final compromise. In fact, it led to the Dreamers demise. He only made the situation more radioactive for all involved. Democrats call that governing? Where was the statesmanship in any of that closed-door meeting? Is the nation now expected to be outraged that Trump would make such comments in private? Of course not, but the entire narrative has distracted a ruling class to the point that resulted in another government shutdown. Will the zealous Democrats and “responsible” press take ownership of that? Doubtful, but such miscalculations can’t occur without someone taking responsibility. The jury is still out on whom and where the American people will place that blame.
The clear winning strategy for this White House and how it is covered is to think beyond the Beltway. Treat and celebrate major rollbacks in regulations as key policy wins, because they are. Push the spotlight to the growing ranks of administration personnel thriving in their respective fields of expertise. For example, Dr. Scott Gottlieb of the Food & Drug Administration is a pure genius when it comes to health care. Tout that and the work he is doing to bring prescription drugs and medical devices to the market on behalf of American patients and their families. The United States is a world leader in delivering medicines and pacemakers to consumers, both here and around the globe. Showcase that in an unprecedented way. Like it or not, we have federal government agencies that practically mirror every major industry in this country, from farming to transportation to energy to science. So, the list of administration involvement and successes in each of these fields could be endless. Start today because there is much ground to be made up politically for this White House, and its opponents are many!
Mr. President, it’s not about you and you know that. You didn’t run for the highest office in the world just to prove you could do it. You ran because you heard the lamentations of so many millions of Americans who were disgusted and fed up with their government. You channeled that frustration and turned a motley mash of disgruntled voices into a movement that wants to see change up and down the line of government. It doesn’t all need to occur at the top. And you are quickly realizing that, at the top is where the most cemented, dug in, hardline problems occur.
Push the work out beyond the swamp. Stop falling to temptation of responding and challenging a sworn enemy hell-bent on seeing your demise. Make the stories less about the Oval and more about America, and I guarantee the press will follow suit.
Mr. Williams is manager/sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. Listen to Mr. Williams on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., EST. Follow on Twitter @arightside.