28 days into the Trump regime it’s worse than expected. Here’s what we’ve learned.
1. Trump’s not an executive. On November 8th, undecided voters opted for Trump because they were impressed by his business credentials; many commented, “He knows how to get things done.”
Trump’s (probably) a billionaire so it would seem that “he knows how to get things done” but, if he does, he hasn’t applied this skill to his job as America’s CEO. Everything about his first 28 days suggests that Trump is in over his head in his new job. For example, after an (initial) week full of executive orders, Trump now appears to have no overall plan for domestic or foreign policy. As another example, Trump’s White House is understaffed and Trump doesn’t seem to be good recruiter.
2. His thought pattern is chaotic. It’s hard to view Trump dispassionately but his impromptu speeches and press conferences are cringe-worthy. On Tuesday (February 14th) during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump was asked about rising anti-semitism. He responded by boasting about his election victory and then said the Trump administration is “going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on.”
3. He doesn’t appear to read briefing papers. The New York Times reported that for national security briefings, Trump wants “a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.”
It’s hard to imagine that Trump is as dumb as he has appeared the last few days but, to say the least, he’s not an intellectual and is not informed on most major issues.
4. Trump has very thin skin. As his lack of focus wasn’t bad enough, Trump seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time watching cable news — time where he should be reading briefing papers — and takes negative reporting very seriously. He may have a sense of humor but it’s not evident. For example, he continues to be outraged by the satirical skits on Saturday Night Live.
5. Trump detests the mainstream media. In his rambling Thursday (February 16th) press conference, called ostensibly to introduce his new candidate for Secretary of Labor, Trump spent most of his time attacking the mainstream media. (For example, stating that CNN hates him.) As a result he has created the most hostile White House press environment in modern times.
6. He doesn’t understand the Federal bureaucracy. Perhaps it wouldn’t matter that Trump doesn’t prepare adequately and has anger management problems, if Americans believed that he really understood the Federal government and, therefore, was prepared to “drain the swamp.” But there’s no indication that Trump understands the government or has surrounded himself with people that do. For example, his January 27th immigration wasn’t adequately vetted by the Justice Department and wasn’t discussed, beforehand, with Republican congressional leaders or Trump’s newly-appointed Secretary of State.
And, of course, Trump doesn’t appear to have any intention of “draining the swamp.” Many of his cabinet appointments are billionaires — such as Education secretary Betty deVos — and appear to be part of the problem rather than a path to the solution.
Trump’s biggest negative is that he is not, inherently, a team player. When confronted his basic instinct seems to be to run over his adversary rather than seek a way to collaborate.
7. Trump doesn’t have a legislative agenda. He prevailed over Clinton because he promised jobs and an alternative to Obamacare. So far, Trump hasn’t produced anything remotely like a plan — other than to say that what is coming will be “phenomenal.” When Trump’s January 27th immigration order was blocked by the 9th Circuit, he promised, “See you in court!” So far, nothing.
Trump promised to build a wall along the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it. Since, he has waffled about the “have Mexico pay for it” part but hasn’t said what he proposes as an alternative.
And his foreign policy is a mess. Almost every day Trump says something that irritates foreign leaders. On February 14th, speaking with Israeli PM Netanyahu, Trump appeared to back away from five decades of US foreign policy and abandon “the two-state solution.”
8. Trump doesn’t care about other Republicans. Not surprisingly, for someone whose instincts are not collaborative, Trump doesn’t work well with other Republicans. He doesn’t consult Vice President Pence. He doesn’t consult his Cabinet members. And he doesn’t doesn’t consult the Republican congressional leaders.
Come 2018, it’s hard to imagine Trump campaigning for any Republican running for reelection.
9. Trump is in the process of losing his base. The latest Pew Research poll finds that only 39 percent of respondents approved of the job Trump is doing. Those that do approve of Trump are “White, non-college-educated” (57 percent). But how long will they approve of Trump when he doesn’t deliver jobs, takes away their healthcare, and fails to build “the wall”?
10. Trump has “phenomenal” conflicts of interest. An under-reported story is Trump’s violation of the Constitution’s conflict-of-interest clause (“emoluments”). Writing in the New York Review (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/02/23/donald-trump-is-violating-the-constitution/), ACLU legal director David Cole describes the lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics: “never before in American history has a president-elect presented more conflict of interest questions and foreign entanglements than Donald Trump… Our forty-fifth president has deliberately chosen to undermine the interests of the people he represents in order to further the interests of the one person he cares about most.”
One month of Trump. How many more will Americans have to endure?