I have both positive thoughts and negative thoughts about Donald Trump as a candidate and as a prospective president.
Donald Trump thinks that being president is like being a big (the biggest) businessman; that there isn’t much of any difference in the two. He thinks that when he sits across from Vladimir Putin or some wacky activist that it’s the same as when he’s in the room with a group of businessmen making a deal — that everyone in the room wants the same thing and all that needs to be done is hash out some details or arrive at a price. As president he will be in for a surprise when he discovers that there are people on the planet who are not swayed by money or a few free nights at a Trump hotel or a cut-rate on a Trump condo or getting a photo op with The Donald. And he can’t get some bureaucrat to use eminent domain to get what he wants in most cases. He will be quickly frustrated dealing with foreign leaders and Congressional leaders who seem to have their own, non-Donald, agendas. Screaming at them or humiliating them won’t work and his ability to strong-arm them or threaten them by saying he’s going to take his business elsewhere won’t be nearly as effective as it is with a desperate mayor or city council.
Similarly, both Trump and Obama view the presidency as a royal position. Trump seems to think he’ll just demand that things happen and problems be solved. He’ll be surprised when he encounters politicians and a bureaucracy that he can’t fire, threaten or bend to his will. He does not seem to be much of a compromiser and compromise is very much a political method. A President Trump will most likely try to imitate Obama’s King Barry I Executive Order behavior. He’ll be surprised at how fast Democrats and their media levies suddenly rediscover the limitations of Executive Orders.
Who is Trump going to turn to to fill the thousands of political jobs that comes with the presidency? Not just White House staff but the top rungs of the departments and agencies. Trump might be quickly captured by the very same permanent Washington ruling class that his supporters so loathe. Indeed, Trump has shown a tendency to bail out when a project hits an immovable (or even merely stubborn) object. He’s never faced the irresistible force that is our federal bureaucracy. Ultimately, Pres. Trump could be captured by Democrats and have an administration filled with Dems and their Obama holdovers (because Trump doesn’t have anyone to fill that job and he’s used to dealing with the Democratic machines that run the big cities where he does most of his business). Think about that.
Trump promises to hire the “best” experts to solve so many problems and run the government and the Trump administration. Who are these Washington “experts”? I think we know who they are — the same folks that are there now. Could it be be “meet the new boss, same as the old boss?”
And he’ll be surprised when he discovers that he just can’t fire any bureaucrat that doesn’t do his bidding nor can he wash his hands of a project he is bored with by declaring bankruptcy. There’s no such thing as “bankruptcy” when it comes to the federal government and its projects.
Trump has shown a predilection to throw money at a problem. In that sense he could be like a kid in a candy store when he arrives in Washington.
From my point of view, Trump’s biggest positive is that he gives Washington heartburn. I’m not completely sure he’d go through with his threats but at least he scares them.
Perhaps Trump really can do something in Washington with his take-no-prisoners approach. He could actually fire (a few of the) people (who need firing) and clean the Augean Stables that is Washington.
There’s also the possibility that frustrated Pres. Trump spends most of his time at war with a Republican-held Congress (or split with a small and inoperable Democratic majority in the Senate) and is also skirmishing with a Democratic-controlled federal bureaucracy that has gone into guerrilla warfare with him. Little to nothing gets done in Washington which, in my view, is usually a good thing.
Trump’s choice of a vice president might be far more important than any vice president choice, possibly, ever. I honestly think that Trump will become bored/frustrated with Washington life and will depend on his VP more than any president ever did.
Who he selects may become Trump’s lodestar with Trump working a few high-profile projects such as foreign policy summits and big economic decisions while the VP gets to take on the boring stuff like fixing soaring default rates at the Dept. Of Education; working with Congress to develop a workable budget; whether the FCC should dictate what features and prices that cable boxes should have; deciding whether Hillary Clinton should be at Leavenworth or merely under house arrest in Chappaqua.
My (fantasy) thinking is that if Trump selected Ted Cruz as his VP it would allay conservative fears that a Trump administration would be a stampeding elephant; especially for issues that Trump simply doesn’t grasp or care for. I opined the other day that, however, I don’t think Trump will go for a VP that might outshine him.
My final thought is on Trump the candidate so far.
Trump’s supporters are falling for the cult of personality campaign. They believe their guy is magic and will solve any and all problems, to their satisfaction, by his mere magnificence.
They also tend to react poorly to anyone who disagrees, feeling that such folks need to be annihilated or aren’t a true conservative. For instance, the Trumpkins hanging around Power Line are now accusing rock-hard conservatives such as John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson and Steve Hayward of being socialists because they’ve dared to point out that Trump has held (and may still hold) many nonconservative positions. HERESY! The Trumpsters shout.
They aren’t interested in a discussion but rather want to shout them down.
The simple fact is that Trump is not a standard Reaganite conservative. He doesn’t seem to have any consistent and coherent political philosophy. He does hit some conservative positions but he has many nonconservative, and even apparently liberal or big government, positions that his supporters will be shocked at once they wake up to a President Trump administration. What Trump has succeeded at, magnificently, is tapping into the anger and frustration of a lot of conservatives and conservative-leaning people with our political class and the professional elements of the Republican Party. Immigration, political correctness and PC-driven fear, unwillingness to confront certain things, the Washington-based part elite and apparatus has proven time and time again to be utterly tin-eared. They really do seem to live in some sort of bubble.
How much of Trump’s support is simply sheer hatred of the GOP establishment (not from the left but from disappointed/jilted conservatives)? How many of these people really vote? How many of them sit on their hands, as they did with McCain and Romney, and then spend for more years banging their spoons on their high-chair trays, demanding purity of candidate?
The simple fact is, no candidate is perfect (not even Phil Gramm). The point here is that we cannot have Hillary Clinton in the White House. I’ll happily take Pres. Cruz, Pres, Rubio, Pres. Christie, Pres. Fiorina, Pres. Carson, even Pres. Jeb or Pres. Kasich over Pres. Hillary. And, likewise, in the long, no matter how you cut it, a Trump presidency would be better than the Obama presidency and would be a better option than a Hillary administration.