by Ruben Navarrette Jr., Opinion columnist
Donald Trump vilifies women, Muslims, Mexicans and others, and I’d welcome his impeachment. But to be fair, here are 20 things he’s managed to get right.
President Donald Trump
(Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
During the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina shared with his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee a message for President Donald Trump: “You do some things that drive me crazy. You do some great things.”
I can relate.
Trump has been driving me crazy since June 2015, when he came down the escalator at Trump Tower, declared his presidential bid, and labeled my Mexican grandfather — who came to this country legally as a boy around 1915 — a rapist, criminal and drug smuggler.
He drove me even crazier when, showing how little he knows about immigration, he said Mexico didn’t send its “best” people. That is all it sends. The only folks who stay behind are the elderly who can’t leave and the entitled who feel they shouldn’t have to.
Nonetheless, I count 20 good things Trump has done in his nearly 20 months in office.
I’d welcome impeachment but fair is fair
I’m surprised the number climbed that high. I’ve been a consistent Never Trumper who hopes the president’s first term is his last. I would even welcome impeachment. Even so, I’m also a journalist trained to look for the truth and share it whether it’s popular or not.
Thus, even as someone who has criticized Trump on issues ranging from trade to immigration to education, it’s only fair to do what much of the news media refuse to do — admit that Trump has done some things right. Such as:
►Move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
►Pull the United States out of the Iranian nuclear deal.
►Stand up to NATO countries for not ponying up enough money to cover the organization’s expenses and their own defense costs.
►Take on the news media and not back down, exposing bias and agenda-driven journalism intended to run him out of office.
►Put an intense focus on immigration, the importance of border security and the cost of illegal immigration, including U.S. citizens killed by the undocumented.
►Target the ruthless Salvadoran street gang MS-13.
►Picking James Mattis as Defense secretary, Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, John Kelly as White House chief of staff andKellyanne Conway as senior adviser.
►Begin a dialogue with North Korea about ending its nuclear weapons program.
More: Trump is right: More than Facebook & Twitter, Google threatens democracy, online freedom
Lessons of Mount Rushmore presidents could help Trump redeem his presidency
Roaring economy isn’t lifting Trump approval rating. He has only himself to blame.
►Focus attention on Rust Belt states and give respect to white working-class voters, overlooked by the elites on both coasts.
►Challenge elitism and question what it means to be “elite.”
►Create millions of new jobs (the White House claims as many as 3 million) and bring unemployment down to 3.9 percent, the lowest since 2000.
►Focus national attention on the opiod crisis, including a look at doctors who overprescribe pain pills.
►Nominate impressive Supreme Court candidates Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
►Propose and help pass a tax cut and cut federal regulations.
►Pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change and defy global warming alarmists.
►Renegotiate unfair trade deals in search of better terms.
►Target racial preferences at colleges and universities, which often hurt intended beneficiaries by lowering standards.
►Refocus immigration debate by ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and trying to force Congress to confront the thorny issue of what to do with “Dreamers,” who were brought to the USA illegally when they were kids.
►Shake up both the Republican and Democratic establishments and remain independent from the Washington cartel.
►Make politics more accessible to people who have rarely voted or cared about it, and widen the door of civic engagement.
But Trump embraced ugly demagoguery
Don’t misunderstand. This doesn’t mean I think Trump has been a good president, or that he hasn’t produced more negative than positive. It only means that he did some things right.
Spelling them out reminded me that under different circumstances, I could have voted for Trump for president. I like people who keep their promises, battle elites, and give voice to the overlooked. If only Trump hadn’t embraced an ugly and dangerous form of demagoguery to attack and vilify women, Muslims, Mexicans and others, things might have been different.
You may disagree with every item on that list. What I call a positive, you might consider a negative. Or you might be able to cite two negative items for every positive one.
That’s fine. Make your own list. I’m not looking for agreement, or trying in vain to convince Trump haters. Life is too short for that. I only want to be fair, not just to the president but to those voters — my fellow Americans — who gave him the job.
Ruben Navarrette Jr., a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors, is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group and host of a daily podcast, “Navarrette Nation.” Follow him on Twitter: @RubenNavarrette.
USA Today · by Ruben Navarrette Jr., Opinion columnist