We all know the controversies surrounding the White House right now. The question being asked is to what extent, if any, did associates of President Donald Trump coordinate or collude with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election?
I want to put that question aside right now. Much ink has been spilled and will continue to be spilled on that issue for months to come. I am currently more interested in the governance or lack of it coming from this administration. As of now, the operation of this White House is at odds with the Trump campaign for president. It begins with the cabinet and staff that Trump has assembled.
Trump chose to surround himself with an extremely conservative set of White House staffers and Cabinet officials. He then chose to turn his legislative agenda over to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The result has been a health care reform bill that bears no resemblance to what Trump spoke of as health care reform during the campaign. Rich Lowry of the National Review chronicles the administration and its decoupling from the populism of the campaign.
Republicans won the election, according to Lowry, on the backs of working-class voters. Yet Trump supported a bill that would have caused people to lose their insurance, and would have disproportionally hit lower-income workers particularly hard. Trump didn't seem to care. Ryan wouldn't understand this, since he is not nor does he want to be a populist. But Lowry asks, "What excuse does the president himself have for evidently not getting it, either?"
Lowry suggests that Trump seems to lack "the knowledge, focus, or interest to translate his populism into legislative form." He appeared to have more interest in passing a bill than he did in the content of that bill. If Trump were to follow what the politics of his campaign dictates, he would have started his presidency differently.
He would have given a more inclusive inaugural address. He would have worked with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to pass an infrastructure bill as his first piece of legislation. Suddenly, he is talking about working with Democrats, but that path has become much more difficult. His decision to tackle tax reform next may prove to be another difficult path for achieving a victory.
Lowry fears that one possible outcome of the Trump presidency will be that his supporters will be able to say, "Trumpism, like socialism, hasn't failed, it's just never been tried."
Joe Scarborough has been trying to offer Trump some helpful advice on his MSNBC TV show, "Morning Joe." He has repeatedly suggested Trump fire his top aide, Steve Bannon, who "wants to destroy the American republic."
Scarborough says the way for Trump to move from 36 percent approval to 56 percent approval is to be more inclusive. He points out that 78 percent of the American people want compromise. They want Washington to start working again. For example, he recommended that Trump boldly call for immigration reform that includes some path to legalization.
Finally, Scarborough notes that Trump needs to understand Washington better. He proclaims that the press always wins. Washington always wins and, most importantly, don't fight with the FBI.
Will the real Donald Trump please stand up? There is no comprehensive strategy for this administration. Trump continues to jump from one issue to another. He seems to be responding more to what's going on day to day, rather than having a vision of where he wants to take the country. Sadly, his approach tends to revolve around perceived slights and petty tweets.
We know he's not an ideologue. Yet, he allowed his health care reform bill to be spearheaded by an entirely right-wing philosophy. Many of his instincts appear to be rather mainstream, but he doesn't seem to care about them enough to fight for them. Where is his infrastructure plan? What is he actually doing on jobs?
During the campaign, everyone was waiting for him to pivot and become more presidential. That never happened and it looks like it is not about to happen now. However, if he doesn't, it is no longer a campaign that is in question, but the future of our country.