Unsolicited Advice for the President-elect

On the off-chance that she survives all of her self-inflicted wounds and emerges in a week as our President-elect, I offer the following unsolicited advice to our next President:

Dear President-elect Clinton:

It’s 8 a.m. Wednesday.  Call Paul Ryan.  Keep calling until he answers.  Tell him you want to make a deal.  Maybe many deals.  Tell him that the social issues are off the table, but you want to know 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).  Trade that for 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.

Next, call Mitch McConnell, but if he doesn’t answer, just leave a voicemail.  Tell him the train has left the station on the right wing’s social agenda, but if he’ll confirm Merrick Garland, maybe you will hold off on appointing Barack Obama to the Supreme Court, and even wait until your second term to drive the coal industry out of business.  While you’re at it, figure out what tweaks and revisions can be made to TPP that will allow you to gracefully reverse your absurd pre-nomination opposition to it, ramrod its passage through the Senate with McConnell’s help, and you can both claim victory.   Also, tell McConnell (sweetly—see below) that if he thinks he can make you a one-term President, he’s welcome to try.

See, there is something you can do with each of these guys. I promise you, Americans are yearning for bipartisanship.  If you succeed in injecting just a little of that back into public life, you will be the beneficiary.

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 (uh, make that 200) years.

It’s Wednesday afternoon.  Tell the First Gentleman-elect that he can give all the speeches he wants – for free.  And only for free.  After all, isn’t a household net worth of over $100 MM enough already?  You and Bill need to find someone — not Sidney Blumenthal or John Podesta — to take steps to fold all the Clinton “foundations,” “global initiatives,” and “charities” into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, or at least turn them over to Melinda to run.  Maybe she’ll give Chelsea a job.  After all, your real daughter appears to be the only one in those outfits with a conscience.  The rest of the hangers-on, sycophants, courtiers, and FOB’s can go out and get real jobs.

When I hear “Abedin/Mills,” I think “Haldeman/Ehrlichman.” And we know how that turned out. Thank Huma and Cheryl for their past service and don’t take their phone calls, emails or texts – and don’t make or send any to this duo, either, and under no circumstances allow them anywhere near the White House.  Really.

Call Bob Gates  and Colin Powell and find out who they think would make a good Secretary of Defense.  Consider James Webb for the job.  Call Condi Rice and ask the same question about State.

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 (at least one-third Republican) commission to revise Social Security.  Make sure the commission members know that they must (a) raise the retirement age 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.

Announce that you will appoint the gaggle of defeated GOP Senators (they’ll all be moderates) to “fix” the ACA.  Put it on their backs, and let’s see what they come up with.

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 Obamacare 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 know that there’s a new sheriff in town, while heartening our fearful allies, and moving the fence-sitters in our direction.

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.

It’s time to heal.  When dealing with your political adversaries, try to act like Bush 41, or Ronald Reagan — not like Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, or 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.

The preceding is unpaid advice, but I think it’s worth a lot more than some of the advice you’ve gotten so far.  I really want you to be successful, even legendary.


Lee Kaplan

6 thoughts on “Unsolicited Advice for the President-elect

  1. Meanwhile, GOP senators are talking about letting the Supreme Court die off as long as a Dem keeps getting elected president. As Chris Hayes described the Republican obstructionist strategy in so many words: If we lose the presidential election, we’ll break the government.

    If you think Republicans are willing to work with Clinton no matter what she says or does, I don’t think you are being realistic. They see it in their self interest to demonize her.

  2. Good essay, Lee. This is some of the best, shrewdest, and most entertaining alternative-universe fantasy writing I’ve read this entire election cycle. It would be interesting to live in that world, wouldn’t it?

  3. Good essay, Lee, worthy of your blog title! Indeed, this is some of the best, shrewdest, and most entertaining alternative-universe fantasy writing I’ve read this entire election cycle. It would be interesting to live in that world, wouldn’t it?

    • It would be interesting to live in a world in which the Republican Party didn’t make Donald Trump its presidential candidate. This is the same party — a party fearful of its uncompromising far right base — Hillary Clinton must try to work with if she’s elected.

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