Lost among all the scorecards surrounding President Trump's "First 100 Days" and the big stakes issues of Obamacare repeal and tax reform is an appreciation for the "smaller things that count." These are the under-the-radar events that do not generate daily headlines but reflect a new and very different path for America going forward.
You may have missed Trump's decision to "fire" the American Bar Association as the official vetter of judicial nominees. Most Americans (including many attorneys) are unaware of the hard left-leaning predisposition(s) of this powerful governing body. But conservatives know it well – and are now presented with a rare opportunity to do something about it.
There are currently 20 U.S. Appeals Court and 99 District Court vacancies throughout the country. A Republican majority controls the United States Senate. Hence, conservatives have been presented with a historic opportunity to reshape the judicial landscape for decades to come. It now falls to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to make it happen. The sooner the better for those of us concerned about the unapologetic judicial activism advanced by so many Obama appointees.
Recall the Obama Administration's last cheap shot at Israel wherein the U.S. failed to veto a United Nations resolution condemning Bibi Netanyahu's settlement building on the West Bank. Accompanying the embarrassing veto was Secretary of State John Kerry's own parting shot wherein Israel was taken to task for its failure to support a two-state resolution.
Far more under the radar was Obama's midnight authorization of $221 million to the Palestinian Authority. All three acts reflected the Obama Administration's well-known disregard for Netanyahu's right-wing government.
Alas, the arrival of the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump Administration has brought a welcome change in U.S. policy – and a freeze on the PA's Obama cash. How refreshing. The PA's propensity to make nice with terrorists operating in the Gaza Strip (including paying the families of jihadists who die as martyrs) is well established. Such behavior should never be subsidized by the American taxpayer. Closer to home, we can hope that America's Johnny-come-lately support for Netanyahu and his government will slow the momentum of campus leftists in their campaign(s) to force divestment of Israeli companies from university portfolios. Such economic boycotts are the latest example of progressive enmity focused on the Jewish state.
Political junkies of a certain age will recall Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" circa 1994. A number of its provisions sought to unchain private enterprise from the confines of the regulatory state. One such exercise was a "corrections day" process whereby obsolete or hurtful regulations were identified for elimination by unanimous bipartisan vote – a worthy goal but a bridge too far for many House liberals. Accordingly, few such regulations bit the dust. Nevertheless, a foundation for regulatory relief had been established. One year later, the Congressional Review Act was passed. Henceforth, Congress was given the power to reject final agency rules within 60 days of their publication.
The Act remained mostly dormant for 20 years (President George W. Bush used it once) until Donald J. Trump came to town. The new Administration has worked with the GOP Congress to roll back thirteen (primarily eleventh hour) Obama regulations – covering everything from coal mining to gun rights. Note that the CRA is more powerful than people realize: the offending agency is forbidden from issuing similar rules once the rule at issue has been killed.
Elimination of overreaching or counterproductive rules is an essential but underappreciated plank in Trump's effort to unleash economic growth. Success here does not tend to produce headlines as the mainstream media insists on measuring an executive's success by the number of new laws enacted – and how much government grew over a certain period of time. But most members of this congressional majority measure effectiveness by how much government shrunk. They ran on this platform and mean to see their promises fulfilled. This disconnect between a Republican Administration and a left-leaning media is one to keep in mind as Trump's "grades" are handed out.
Lost among the heated rhetoric surrounding the President's long-promised southern wall/fence is a significant drop in illegal border crossings. The number of unaccompanied minors has similarly decreased in dramatic fashion. And all of this without a long-overdue immigration bill or the hiring of additional border agents.
A logical takeaway is that even those who deal in human trafficking read the papers. They see a new sheriff in Washington – one (finally) serious about our porous southern border. Ten years of contentious debate about sovereignty and open borders has made many Americans question the government's commitment to immigration enforcement. Here's hoping the President's powerful use of his bully pulpit will restore trust in the rule of law.
These are simply a sampling of reports reflecting America's new and very different path. There are many such small steps taking place on a daily basis. As they say, elections have consequences. Indeed they do.
Gov. Robert Ehrlich is a Washington Examiner columnist, partner at King & Spalding and author of three books, including the recently released Turning Point. He was governor of Maryland from 2003 - 2007.