A lot of people have been appalled by Donald Trump’s behavior during the transition, at his inauguration, and in his first week in office. You can count me among them.
But I also find his actions baffling from the perspective of Trump’s own self-interest. People who opposed his administration’s policies should take heart, because his conduct so far will make it harder to proceed as he seems to want.
For starters, Trump made zero effort to exploit the honeymoon period traditionally accorded a new president by the press, didn’t try to drive a wedge or two in the large coalition that opposes him, and declined to appeal to a broader sense of national unity. Thus far he has played entirely to his base, painting a dark portrait of a crumbling America where everybody except Trump himself is untrustworthy, corrupt, deceitful, and not to be heeded at all. The result: a president who lost the popular vote by 2.5 million people is even less popular now, and he enters office with the lowest approval ratings of any new president in history.
Never mind the irony of such a deeply corrupt and dishonest person accusing others of corruption; the odd thing is that he has been doing just about everything he can to unite key institutions against him. This may not matter if he and his lackeys can disseminate a squid-ink cloud of “alternative facts” and convince their many followers that down is up, black is white, 2+2=5, and what the president said on camera last week really never took place. As I’ve warned before, Trump & Co. seems to be operating straight from the Erdogan-Berlusconi-Putin playbook, and it remains an open question whether this approach will work in a country with many independent sources of information, some of which are still committed to facts.
The same goes for the agencies of the government that he is now supposedly leading. Government bureaucrats have been held in low regard for a long time, which makes them an easy target. But you also can’t do anything in public policy without their assistance, and my guess is that Americans will be mighty unhappy when budget cuts, firings, resignations, and the like reduce government performance even more.Read More...
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