I do not think I’m breaking new ground when I write: This is not going well.
Let me try that again:
THIS IS NOT GOING WELL
You know I’ve never been a Trump fan, but I’ve never been a “Never Trumper.” For those who might have been absent the 126 times I’ve written this: I voted for neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton. I wrote in Gov. John Kasich for whom I had also voted in the Virginia primary.
I bring you that bit of history to also remind you that I was surprised – along with 90 percent of the rest of America, including people who voted for him – when Donald Trump won, but I wasn’t disappointed.
When he said he was going to appoint the best people and do wonderful things; when he said he would fix healthcare and bring back jobs; when he said he would reform the tax code and demand that our allies carry more of the cost of their own defense, I was for all that.
I was willing to overlook the lunacy of a wall paid for by Mexico, and the illogic of cutting the budgets of the State Department and EPA by a third, and the whole bro-mance thing with Vladimir Putin.
I thought he would see how complex this business of governing is and would quit acting like the rich kid in 1950s movies who finally gets beat up by the kids who play with a baseball wrapped in black electrician’s tape because the leather cover was lost when their older brothers played with it.
I don’t think he had any idea of a clue via a hint of a whisper of how complex this business of being President of the United States really is.
We don’t need to recount the stumbles and tumbles of the first 70+ days of his administration. It’s a pretty safe bet that the first 100 days of the Trump administration may go into the history books, but not under the heading he has been thinking.
Donald Trump has no idea how to deal with all the competing forces that come to bear on freshman Members of Congress, much less the President of the United States.
That’s ok. No one does. Maybe H.W. did. And Al Gore might have because they sat near the seat of power for eight years.
But, the man who has spent his life building (and/or buying) hotels, office buildings and golf courses reverts to the mean: He thought he knew, but he didn’t.
It’s time for Donald Trump to reach out and get people around him who are not related by blood or marriage; who are not sycophants; who are not wedded to some weird political philosophy that they studied at Harvard.
The United States of America in the 21st century is not a political petri dish.
Even if you think draining the swamp – whatever that means – is a good idea, neither swamps nor bathtubs empty instantaneously. You open the drain and given physics, fluid dynamics, and gravity – sooner or later it’s dry.
Want to stop the leaks? Well, you can’t. But, if you want to get them under control get people on board who aren’t spending all their time assuring Fox News Channel viewers you really are wearing clothes, but are willing to pull an oar in support of a common goal.
To do that you have to have a common goal. A set of guiding principles. Slogans like Steve Bannon’s “Deconstruction of the Administrative State” are not it.
I agree that there are too many boxes in too many org charts in too many agencies, commissions, bureaus, and departments but just leaving the boxes empty is not governing.
The president needs to take a long weekend at one of his White Houses to think this through.
He needs to bring in people who have not made a billion dollars or earned at least three stars. He needs to bring in people – like, but not limited to, Newt Gingrich – who have spent their lives actually doing governing. Not perfectly, but trying to gain a foothold on perfection.
There are a lot of smart people who have spent years of their lives in governance. They know how a bill becomes law. They know what needs to go into an Executive Order. They know how to staff the worker-bee levels of Departments – the Under, Assistant and Deputy Assistant Secretaries who – in Trumpian terms – make sure the blueprints are followed, the steel is delivered on time, and every day the building is one day closer to completion.
There is a long way to go in the Trump administration. If the next 1,390-or-so days are as raucous as the first 70, there will be no building.
There will only be piles of bricks, and steel, concrete and wood and the wistful sighs of his supporters when they consider what might have been.