Because President Donald Trump was effectively denied a first term by a small band of senior law enforcement personnel (and perhaps some in the intelligence community) who from the start wanted him hamstrung or worse, his accomplishments on the judiciary, the military’s rebuild and deregulation are even more remarkable.
The economic recovery needed again is best left to the president who did it once, not to the return of the entropy of the Obama-Biden years.
Public confidence in the president should grow because, for the first time in his tenure, there is growing “alignment” on priorities among the big five: Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and national security adviser Robert O’Brien.
Pence, Pompeo and Barr are principals, and Meadows and O’Brien are staffers. But if those two staffers aren’t on the same page, the gears grind and the president’s vision cannot be implemented. It is now an article of faith inside the West Wing that not since then-chief of staff James Baker and then-national security adviser William Clark worked together in Ronald Reagan’s first term have these two officials been in such harmony with the principals and with each other.
The most pressing need is for $12 billion to cover cost overruns in defense production caused directly by shutdowns of weapons plants. That is an obvious necessity. The same is true for some $6 billion to secure the “defense-industrial base” from Chinese meddling and investment. Many of these are single suppliers of mission-critical military materials that need shoring up.
The total defense portion of the Phase 4 rescue bill should clock in around $42 billion, which Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) confirmed for me Tuesday.
Trump’s White House has suffered from nonalignment, primarily because of the vast effort spent responding to the attack on its legitimacy, but also because of a mismatch of visions between various combinations of White House chiefs of staffs and national security advisers. The vice president and secretary of state have shared and implemented Trump’s agenda, but that’s certainly not been the case at the Office of Management and Budget and often in the Pentagon.
Whenever Congress gets around to appropriating the next huge chunk of funds to cope with the pandemic and its economic aftershocks—likely before Labor Day—we will learn whether the alignment holds and the president can make sure the fourth rescue bill seeks to repair damage done to national security, as well as to the economy.
Hugh Hewitt hosts a nationally syndicated radio show on the Salem Network and is a political analyst for NBC, a professor of law at Chapman University’s law school, and president of the Nixon Foundation.