Trump: Can he regain control of his presidency?
Controversy of the week
Less than a month after Donald Trump took the oath of office, said Jeet Heer in NewRepublic.com, the infighting, chaos, and ineptitude within his White House are “making the president look weaker every day.” He got off to a bad start with his obsessive concern over his popular-vote deficit, rushed out a poorly drafted executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, and this week was caught up in the scandal surrounding the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn. The deeper problem is that after a lifetime of running a family business, Trump “doesn’t know how government works,” has no coherent management structure, and is being undermined by a daily torrent of leaks to the media by aides jockeying for position. Morale within the White House is in free fall, said Alex Isenstadt in Politico.com, and insiders say the president himself is deeply “frustrated with the challenges of running the massive federal bureaucracy.” Being president, his aides say, “is harder than Donald Trump thought.
Look, “every new president goes through a shakeout period,” said Michael Goodwin in NYPost.com. These early stumbles are getting so much attention only “because the opposition media and Democrats are united in trying to thwart his presidency.” Trump mustn’t let himself get distracted by the steady flow of leaks to the hostile press. To get back on track, he needs to “stay focused on the big picture”: tax reform, jobs, border security, and rebuilding the military. In its desperation to delegitimize his presidency, the media is ignoring what Trump has already accomplished, said Kelly Riddell in The Washington Times. He’s begun the process of building a wall, instituting extreme vetting of people from terrorismprone nations, enforcing immigration laws, and filling the Supreme Court vacancy with a real conservative. As for the supposed chaos, Trump’s supporters voted for change and “are thrilled he’s mixing things up in Washington.”
I’m sorry, said Jonah Goldberg in NationalReview.com, but “the idea that Trump’s brilliant master plan is unfolding just as he intended is frick’n bonkers.” Trump pitched himself to voters as a super-competent business executive who’d fix Washington. So far, he’s got his travel ban stopped by a federal judge, lost his national security adviser to a growing FBI investigation, and can’t seem to stop his top aides from stabbing each other—and him—in the back. Only a true Trumpist still believes “the Mastermind has everything under control.” Trump supporters point to the pile of executive orders he’s signed as proof of his effectiveness, said Zachary Karabell in Politico.com. But nearly all of them are “essentially statements of intent with no legal force.” So far, this has been “the illusion of a presidency, not the real thing.”
“Can this presidency be saved?” asked Ross Douthat in NYTimes.com. Yes, of course. All Trump would have to do is drop the divisive tweeting and rhetoric, and let competent Cabinet officers such as Rex Tillerson and James Mattis take the lead on foreign policy and Jeff Sessions figure out an immigration-enforcement agenda. Congressional Republican leaders should be given the responsibility of figuring out how to replace Obamacare. Trump would then be free to “hammer” away at a few simple, popular projects such as an infrastructure bill and a middle-class tax break. Yes, but does that sound like Trump? said Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. He has spent his life indulging his narcissistic impulses; seeking vengeance against his enemies; and creating chaos, conflict, and drama. “At the age of 70, Donald Trump is not about to grow up.”