The collective presidency – Trump’s accidental innovation?
A quick thought about Trump.
The man is a ground-breaker in many ways – in his nastiness, his cavalier approach to the truth, his way of communicating and his constant self-contradiction.
His apologists tried to convince us before the election that his trash talking was just campaign tactics, and that he would become dignified and measured on taking office. They were wrong. What you saw then is what you get now – for better or for worse.
But here’s the odd thing. His most critical appointees – Mattis at Defense, Tillerson at State and now McMaster at the National Security Council – all appear sane, sensible and capable individuals.
Mattis in particular has not been afraid to deviate from the Trump line – especially on NATO. McMaster has a reputation for telling his bosses what he thinks they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear. None of them appear to share Trump’s rose-tinted affection for Vladimir Putin. Their hand is strengthened by the reality that Trump cannot afford to lose another senior appointee.
Are we looking at an entirely new style of presidency, wherein Trump continues to behave like a man running for election, and his senior cabinet members – with the support and connivance of Mike Pence – get on with the business of government despite him, rather than because of him?
In other words, a collective presidency – government by cabinet – while the man himself rants and raves in a bubble of sycophancy in the White House?
Whatever one thinks of the policies, a degree of consistency and coherence applied by his less ideological team members is surely more to be desired than Steve Bannon’s destructive testing of the world order, and the chaotic leadership Trump has shown thus far.
If this is the future of the Trump presidency, it would be truly ground-breaking. It might even give him a decent chance of making it to 2020 without being kicked out of office.