Perino: Expect the unexpected during Trump years

Wisconsin State Farmer
Dana Perino, former press secretary to President George W. Bush and co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Five” addresses the audience at DBA Diary Strong 2017, Monona Terrace, Madison.

Madison — Political commentator and author Dana Perino might not know exactly what to expect in U.S. politics during the next four years, but she is certain of this: It’s going to be wild ride.

“Embrace the chaos because that’s what you’re going to get. Conventional wisdom was thrown out the window during the election and it’s not going to come back in now,” Perino told more than 600 people on Jan. 18 at Dairy Strong 2017: The Journey Forward at the Monona Terrace Convention & Community Center.

Perino, who served as press secretary to President George W. Bush and is a co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Five,” said President-elect Donald Trump was carried into office by a wave of voter desire for change. However, predicting what that will look like when he takes office Jan. 20 is difficult.

Trump will have a Republican-controlled Congress for the next two years, so he has the obvious advantage. But certain changes on his wish list, such as tax cuts and replacing the Affordable Care Act, may take more work than he expects, Perino said.

“It’s like removing flour from cake,” she said of repealing and replacing the health care program.

Perino said a big question mark hangs over the Democratic Party as the party looks to find a new leader. Yet, the party holds much potential because Democrats are proving to be most popular in parts of the country that are growing.

“That bodes well for them long term,” said Perino, whose shares her experience in politics and television in her 2015 best-selling book “And the Good News Is.”

(Trump has named former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as his nominee for secretary of agriculture), but Perino said regardless of (Perdue's confirmation), dairy farmers need to make their voices heard.

“Make sure you have a presence in D.C. and make sure you keep telling your story – farmers have great stories to tell – because if you don’t, someone else will come in and fill that vacuum with their own perspective,” she said.

Perino noted that Trump said little about agriculture during his campaign or since the election, but she believes he will make farmer-friendly decisions.

“Trump is the kind of guy that if you get in front of him, you can persuade him to listen to what you have to say,” she said.

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and House Speaker Paul Ryan, both from Wisconsin, can be conduits, she said.

Just eight years ago, Perino was packing up her office in the White House as President Bush ended his second term. She said Bush had a significant positive impact on her life and she called her time as press secretary a “dream job.”

“I learned so much about the power of forgiveness from President Bush,” Perino said.

Ashley Ambrosius, who works in agriculture sales for Bayland Buildings, enjoyed Perino’s presentation.

“I love how she told so many stories about her time in the White House and her different experiences,” Ambrosius said. “It was fun and it was great to see her in person.”