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The man and the record
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo
THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Oct 31, 2020
“He’s crude and unkind.”
“He’s just not a good man.”
These things, and much worse, are commonly said of President Donald Trump. His personality totally eclipses his record.
So we, seemingly, have him on the dunk tank, ready for a very cold bath.
Let’s play dump the lout.
But is this really what it’s about?
Isn’t the real question whether he has been taking the country, and the economy of this region, in the right direction these last four years?
Can we separate the man from the record?
We share the embarrassment of millions of Americans who are disturbed by the president’s unpresidential manners and character — his rudeness and put-downs and bragging and bending of the truth.
None of this can be justified. The president’s behavior often has diminished his presidency, and the presidency. Most Americans want a president who makes them proud.
We too prefer the first-class temperament and demeanor of a Winston Churchill, a Dwight Eisenhower, a Franklin Roosevelt, a Ronald Reagan, or a Barack Obama (whom this newspaper enthusiastically supported in 2008 and 2012). None of them are on the ballot this year.
Let’s look at the Trump record:
Under Donald Trump the economy, pre-COVID, boomed, like no time since the 1950s. Look at your 401(k) over the past three years.
Unemployment for Black Americans is lower than it has ever been, under any president of either party.
Under Mr. Trump, our trade relationships have vastly improved and our trade deals have been rewritten. Thanks to him, middle America is on the map again and the Appalachian and hourly worker has some hope.
Has Mr. Trump done enough for these struggling fellow citizens? No. But he recognized them. Maybe he was not articulate, but he recognized their pain.
No one ever asked the American people, or the people in “flyover,” country, if they wanted to send their jobs abroad — until Mr. Trump. He has moved the debate, in both parties, from free trade, totally unfettered, to managed, or fair, trade. He has put America first, just as he said he would.
He also kept his promise to appoint originalists to the Supreme Court of the United States. His third appointment, Amy Coney Barrett, is the best of all — a jurist whose mind and character and scholarship ARE first class. We hope she stands against both judicial and executive excess.
Finally, let’s talk about one of the most important concerns in this region — energy. Under Mr. Trump the United States achieved energy independence for the first time in the lifetimes of most of us. Where would Western Pennsylvania be without the Shell Petrochemical Complex (the “cracker plant”)?
Donald Trump is not Churchill, to be sure, but he gets things done.
He is not a unifier. He often acts like the president of his base, not the whole country. He has done nothing to lessen our divisions and has, in fact, often deepened them. The convictions and intellect of all Americans should be respected by ALL Americans, especially the president.
Has Mr. Trump handled the pandemic perfectly? No. But no one masters a pandemic. And the president was and is right that we must not cower before the disease and we have to keep America open and working.
He has not listened well to people who could have helped him. He has not learned government, or shown interest in doing so.
But the Biden-Harris ticket offers us higher taxes and a nanny state that will bow to the bullies and the woke who would tear down history rather than learning from history and building up the country.
It offers an end to fracking and other Cuckoo California dreams that will cost the economy and the people who most need work right now. “Good-paying green jobs” are probably not jobs for Pittsburgh, or Cleveland, or Toledo, or Youngstown.
It offers softness on China, which Mr. Trump understands is our enemy.
Mr. Biden is too old for the job, and fragile. There is a very real chance he will not make it through the term. Mr. Trump is also too old but seemingly robust. But in Mike Pence, Mr. Trump has a vice president ready to take over, if need be. He is a safe pair of hands. Sen. Kamala Harris gives no evidence of being ready to be president.
This newspaper has not supported a Republican for president since 1972. But we believe Mr. Trump, for all his faults, is the better choice this year. We respect and understand those who feel otherwise. We wish that we could be more enthusiastic and we hope the president can become more dignified and statesmanlike. Each American must make up his or her own mind and do what he or she thinks is best for the community and the republic. Vote your conscience. And, whatever happens, believe in the country.
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