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Al Sikes’ Breaking Takes

Breaking News is the jargon of breathless cable news. But I’m not one to shun a trend, so here are my “Breaking Takes.”


If President Trump is judged by history to have been a successful President, history will also judge Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to have been giant legislative leaders. These three centers of power — White House, U.S. House and Senate — must get much closer in orchestrating desired outcomes. It is much easier to defeat legislative initiatives than pass them.

Fake News

Fake news only works with an incurious, ill-informed or deeply prejudiced electorate. Knowledge of government and history is as important to a healthy democracy as engineering is to a technology age.


The availability of jobs is important; no less important is a well-trained and eager labor force. To emphasize one without the other is foolish. America’s manufacturing prowess will turn on labor force readiness. The Departments of Education and Labor should actively collaborate.

America versus Europe

In Europe, new movements have had to build a political party, a very difficult challenge. At the risk of oversimplification, America’s extreme weighting in favor of only two political parties caused President Trump’s Populist/Nationalist movement to take over the Republican Party. So while the contest for power within the Party will proceed, it will never again be the party of Reagan. Even the most devoted Reagan acolytes will have to explain themselves.

Grace Notes

President Trump has expressed admiration for former President Obama’s approach toward the transition. He has much to learn from Obama in the use of the political pulpit. Grace notes create a relationship with the governed that will bail you out when dark descends (and it will). President Trump must learn to talk to those who are not predisposed to favor him.

Transgressive Personality

On the first work day of the Trump presidency, I opened the Wall Street Journal and on page one are stories about trade deals and the packed agenda of Trump’s first week. There is also a story about his National Security Advisor’s contacts with Russian officials.

I then opened the New York Times and until you get to the seventh story on Israeli-Palestinian politics all the articles are about real or perceived miscues of Trump or his aides.

Trump is Trump. Convention is obsolete. But, what is important is the substance of what effect the national government is going to have on health care, national security and a range of issues that count today and tomorrow. Obsessing on the unconventional or exaggerations or who is staying in Trump hotels unwittingly serves his cause. Drill down on what matters. 

But, and this is an important but. Those of you who are Trump supporters or who are coming around to his side should read “Why I Cannot Fall in Line Behind Trump” by Peter Wehner, a thoughtful Republican who worked for George W. Bush, among others.

Wehner’s describes Trump as a transgressive personality, who “thrives on creating disorder, on violating rules, in provoking outrage.”  If you believe you can discern that trait, now that what he is doing is deadly serious, answer disfavor when the pollster calls.

One quote of a quote from the article: “In ‘The Abolition of Man,’ C. S. Lewis wrote, “I am very doubtful whether history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently.”


Images: Shutterstock

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