May 1, 2018


Trump's astonishing impotence (Damon Linker, May 1, 2018, The Week)

The fact is that Donald Trump is an extraordinarily weak president. It is hard to declare him the weakest in American history -- but only because the scope of the presidency has expanded so dramatically in recent decades with the rise of the administrative state and the national security state. But in the context of that more recent history, Trump is astonishingly impotent -- a veritable portrait in feebleness.

As one well-connected Republican put it to me on a recent visit to Washington, the Trump administration is giving us a sense of what it would be like to have no president at all. The government goes about its business. Checks get mailed. Paperwork gets shuffled from office to office. But there is ultimately no one in charge to set priorities or establish an overarching direction.

The primary reason is that knowledge is power, President Trump knows almost nothing about public policy or how the government works, and he may well be ineducable. The result is an administration with a power vacuum at its core.

Trump's ignorance is behind his failure to make any progress at all on two of the signature proposals from his campaign: the building of a wall along the southern border and the passage of a substantial infrastructure bill. Neither have happened because his own party in Congress is divided about whether to support either policy, and Trump himself has no idea how to go about getting the opposition to bend to his will.

Trump's White House staff could help him, of course, but they're equally divided about the wisdom of both policies -- and as we've seen over and over again since the start of the administration, Trump's staff is quite willing to gum up the works to prevent him from getting his way (at least in part because they think he's an idiot).

It is hardly surprising that someone who lost by three million votes can not implement their agenda, but then one recalls how much W achieved after a similar, but far more bitter, election and the loss of control of the Senate and realizes that it is down to Donald, personally, and what he advocates,. politically.

Posted by at May 1, 2018 4:21 AM