The liberal cartoonist Herblock was famed for portraying Richard Nixon as a sinister figure with a heavy five o’clock shadow emerging from a sewer. But after Nixon won the 1968 election, the cartoonist drew a barber’s chair with a sign: “This Shop Gives to Every New President of the United States a Free Shave. H. Block. Proprietor.”
Following that laudable tradition, Donald Trump in these precincts is not the “bilious billionaire.” Instead, he is now the president-elect of the most glorious — and sometimes, the most baffling — democracy in the world. This is not to airbrush away the venomous tenor of the Trump campaign or the candidate’s apparent disinterest in understanding the government and the world.
But this is a moment when hope trumps the experience of this campaign. Giving Trump a fresh chance is different than the burst of sycophancy that usually surrounds a victorious presidential candidacy. Sadly, journalists share a similar bias with Trump: We lionize winners and lambaste losers like Mitt Romney and John Kerry. Far healthier was the attitude of the late New York Times conservative columnist Bill Safire who believed, “Kick them when they’re up.”
Just as Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships so has Hillary Clinton launched a thousand theories to explain how she — like Tom Dewey in 1948 — grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.
America has just witnessed the greatest rebellion against royalism since General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Remember, not too long ago, the TV talking heads were prophesying a dynastic election between the Clinton and Bush families. Even after Jeb was dispatched with ease, Hillary could never escape the taint of unearned privilege.
After any surprising event — from a peace treaty to an election — the news magazines always used to run the same headline. Never has it been more appropriate than it is today: “Now for the Hard Part.”
Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro is a veteran of Politics Daily, USA Today, Time, Newsweek and the Washington Post. His book on his con-man great-uncle was just published: “Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Fuhrer.” Follow him on Twitter @MrWalterShapiro.