This is for the President-elect I did not expect. My advice is only a little different from what I posted last week for the other candidate (whom I thought would prevail). However, what’s good for the country is good for the country, regardless of who walks into the White House next January 20:
Dear President-elect Trump:
It’s Wednesday. Half the country is hailing your victory, but the other half is scared. Here’s what I recommend to hearten your supporters and (slowly) assuage the fears of many of the rest.
Call Mitch McConnell. Tell him you are too busy to worry about legislation on the right wing’s social agenda, but you’ll give him “safe” conservatives for the Supreme Court, and assure him that you won’t drive the coal industry out of business. While you’re at it, ask him to help figure out what tweaks and revisions can be made to TPP that will allow you to gracefully reverse your absurd opposition to it (maybe some executive orders?), then ramrod its passage through the Senate with McConnell’s help, and you can both claim victory.
Call Paul Ryan. Keep calling until he answers. Tell him you want to make a deal. Maybe many deals. Find out what he really wants on the budget/tax front (we know that will be a combination of entitlement cuts and certain tax reforms), and let him make the case to you that those items will stimulate job growth (he’s right — they will). The Senate Democrats will have the capability to filibuster anything coming out of the House, so add a dollop of some more taxes on people making over $500,000. Both of you will need to show some backbone and make the case for this compromise to the country, over the heads of the leftwing cranks (read: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) and rightwing crazies (too many to name) in both Houses of Congress.
Call Chuck Schumer. Repeat to him what you said about TPP to McConnell. Also, tell him (sweetly—see below) that the country is yours, and if he is unnecessarily obstructive, you will bury him.
While you’re at it, promise both Ryan and McConnell that you’ll support under cover of darkness any ideas they have for encasing Ted Cruz in carbonite for at least the next 20 years. Tell Ted that he can wait 8 years, anyway.
It’s Wednesday evening. Get a good night’s sleep. Then call Bob Gates and Colin Powell and find out who they think would make a good Secretary of Defense. Call Condi Rice and ask the same question about State. Call John McCain and Lindsey Graham and invite them to make Cabinet suggestions. You may or may not take their advice, but could it really hurt to ask?
Call Philip Zelikow and tell him he must accept the post of National Security Adviser. He’s up to it.
Announce that you will appoint a blue-ribbon commission (at least one-third Democrats) to “save” Social Security. Make sure the commission members know that they must (a) raise the retirement age for non-disabled persons by at least one month per year for the next 36 years, (b) advocate means-testing benefits, and (c) ensure that the COLAs are honest, not manipulated in either direction. That will give you cover — and it makes sense.
I take you at your word that you want to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Appoint a similar blue-ribbon commission for this task, too. After 7 or 8 years in opposition, surely some Republicans have a few good ideas beyond selling insurance across state lines. And find some rational Democrats and healthcare experts to appoint to the commission. I realize they will probably issue a scathing minority report, but let’s get all the ideas on the table.
Freeze civilian Government hiring. ‘Nuff said.
Expand the military by 1,000,000 personnel. This was the stimulus package I advocated waaaayyy back in 2009 when President Obama took office. Such a program would have had, and will still have, immense benefits: (a) decreasing the ranks of the unemployed, particularly 18- to 25-year-olds, (b) providing discipline in work habits and training in technical skills to those same young persons who most need it, so they ultimately become net contributors and taxpayers in the civilian economy, (c) providing medical care to the same group –- a better alternative than the ACA with its stratospheric deductibles and co-pays — while training them in healthy habits that will ultimately bend the cost curve, and (d) letting Putin and the Iranians and North Koreans know that, while you may be willing to sit down and talk with them, there’s a new sheriff in town. This will hearten our fearful allies.
Make a speech before Thanksgiving that explicitly supports Israel and a two-state solution, and insist that the Arab world and Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, on pain of isolation. We don’t need their oil the way we used to.
Don’t call Putin until you have already spoken with Merkel, May, and Pena Nieto. Please.
It’s time to heal. When dealing with your political adversaries, try to act like Bush 41, or Ronald Reagan — not like Dick Cheney or your new BFF’s Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and Rudy Giuliani. Act like Franklin Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter (most of the time), not like Harry Reid or Elizabeth Warren. This will be a hard lesson for you, and old habits die hard. But you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And enforce rigorously the same level of civility among your courtiers, advisers, and other minions. Believe me, if you can do it (and with your iron will you should be able to do it), you’ll be glad you did.
Oh, yes. Tell Jason Chaffetz to back off. He should investigate fraud and waste, not Benghazi or the email server. You won. Isn’t that enough?
The preceding is unpaid advice, but I think it’s worth something. I really want you to be successful.