The two Donalds
What a pity Americans can't take their choice between a president who has delivered on his campaign promises to strengthen the economy by cutting taxes and a cartoonish lout who tweets the whole day long, embarrassing himself and his country. But the two Trumps can't be separated; both are part of the same schizophrenic package. You can't have one without the other.
The increasingly recognized Trump Bump in the economy is proving less a passing aberration than the new normalcy as the stock market sets new records and the benefits come not trickling but flooding down to American workers. To cite just one example, Wal-Mart is raising its hourly pay from about $9 for most new hires to $11, which is higher than the minimum wage required by federal law.
In turn, other employers -- like restaurants, warehouses and small retailers -- will need to boost the amount they pay unskilled labor. It's all working out according to a law much older than passing campaign promises -- the law of supply and demand.
The same happy trend can be spotted all across American financial news. Manufacturing, which long had been the sick man of this country's economy, is staging a dramatic comeback. Fiat Chrysler is paying $2,000 bonuses to each of its 60,000 salaried and hourly employees and is planning to invest a billion dollars in a new American plant.
When the good Donald signed his tax-cut bill into law in December, he gave American investors a heckuva Christmas gift. Under the old corporate tax rate of 35 percent, a dollar of earnings translated into 65 cents. But at the new tax rate of 21 percent, the same dollar is worth 79 cents. To quote Donald Luskin of Trend Macrolytics, that's a growth in earnings of 21.5 percent, all accomplished by a single stroke of the good Donald's presidential pen.
Talk about fun with numbers, this is the way to have it. For the new federal tables should be out any day now, and they'll give We the People and taxpayers a big break. Thank you, good Donald.
But the bad Donald always seems to be lurking in the background. He's the one who throws the word treason around with abandon -- and no regard for its strict, well-defined meaning in the Constitution of the United States. The bad Donald did discover a smoking gun when an FBI agent, Peter Strzok, was removed as the chief investigator looking into accusations that the Russian government had colluded with the Trump team to influence the last presidential election.
The man got his just deserts, but he didn't deserve to be tarred as a traitor without a trial and conviction. But those are the kind of responsible distinctions in law and in reason that the bad Donald is not inclined to make, especially in a politically poisonous time. And the bad Donald has not made it any better. Justice, justice, thou shalt pursue, the Good Book commands, not petty vengeance.
The good Donald, the bad Donald -- they whirl around like a weather vane as 2018 goes spinning around. The best and worst one can say about it so far is contained in the old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.
(Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)