As a man, I’ve spent a lot of time doing guy things in guy places: barbershops, locker rooms, sports bars, etc. And as a reporter, I’ve covered a veritable army of men, from athletes to politicians, to CEOs and entertainers. But I have never, not ever, not once, seen a man behave the way Donald Trump does.
Trump may aspire to be a strongman, but every day he’s proving to be an exceptionally weak president, and a sorry excuse of a man.
During the presidential campaign, Trump boasted about his supposedly legendary negotiating and management skills as he declared that he alone could fix the problems ailing the country. But three weeks into his presidency, a combination of inexperience, unparalleled ignorance, lack of attention to detail, his highly sensitive thin skin, and his delusional ‘alternative reality’ has exposed him as the weakest president in modern American history.
As Politico reporter Matthew A. Miller points out, “Trump’s governing style to date can only loosely be called management. He makes decisions quickly, often without consulting relevant experts or even his own appointees. He reads almost nothing, at most a few bullet points—often ripped straight from cable TV—that cannot possibly capture the nuance of complicated policy issues.
When his hastily considered decisions backfire in inevitable ways, he doubles down and attacks any critics who point out either the folly or impracticability of his orders.
For example, when Trump signed an executive order elevating chief strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, national security experts from both parties reacted by slamming the administration for politicizing the council’s decision-making process. After days of controversy, Trump complained to his staff that he did not fully understand the details of the order he himself had signed, according to an account in the New York Times.
Trump’s chaotic management has led the courts to dramatically curb his power only three weeks into his administration. The decision by a Ninth Circuit panel to uphold the temporary restraining order blocking his immigration ban was notable for its criticism of the administration’s shifting execution of the order.
But it was the panel’s language about the courts’ ability to review President Trump’s immigration actions that may have the most lasting effect. Responding to Justice Department claims that the courts could not even review the president’s immigration order, the judges wrote, “there is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”
Trump has also found himself increasingly threatened by the federal bureaucracy that nominally reports to him.
Over the past weeks, accounts of the president’s calls with the leaders of Australia, Mexico, Germany, France and Russia have all leaked, usually in embarrassing fashion.
Draft executive orders have routinely spilled into the press, generating opposition before the White House can develop plans to explain them to the public.
Trump relies on powerful political assets that no previous president has enjoyed. He has an in-house media organ in Breitbart and, increasingly, Fox News that he can use to attack critics.
And Republicans in Congress seem willing to humiliate themselves in the face of his antics for now, as long as he continues to back their policy priorities. Trump’s rolling circus of chaos has also confounded the press, which can barely dig into one major controversy before a new one erupts.
Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and unwillingness to respect traditional norms and institutions, his inability to moderate his mouth, effectively manage the government or successfully negotiate with foreign leaders have weakened his presidency… BIGLY.
If Trump doesn’t get his act together, the courts will be forced to keep him on a short leash.
The turbulent beginning to his tenure may signal that the defining characteristic of Trump’s presidency will be not the strength he promised, but enduring flaccidity.