The Hardest Job in the WorldRoundup
tags: presidency, Trump
We have come to expect that when the national fabric rends, the president will administer needle and thread, or at least reach for the sewing box of unity. After white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, shouting “Jews will not replace us,” President Trump’s instinct was to emphasize that there were good people among the neo-Nazis.
We expect presidents to be deal makers. Even when the opposition has calcified, they are supposed to drink and dine with the other side and find a bipartisan solution. Trump promised that his decades in the real-estate business would make him an especially able negotiator, but on health care, taxes, and immigration, he hasn’t much bothered to trade horses with Democratic lawmakers. Not even Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia—up for reelection in a state Trump won easily—was seriously approached as a negotiating partner.
To his critics, Trump’s detours from the expectations of his office prove he is unfit to inhabit it. Or they demonstrate his hypocrisy: The man who now ignores the traditional responsibilities of the job was once perhaps the nation’s foremost presidential scold, regularly criticizing his predecessors when they responded to a disaster inadequately or played too much golf or couldn’t make a deal. Trump even suggested that Barack Obama’s manner of descending the stairs of Air Force One was unpresidential.
Members of maga nation scoff at the president’s detractors, and bask in the glow of the burning norms. Why should Trump throw all his energy and political capital into producing quick results in Puerto Rico when the island’s poor planning and weak infrastructure have made success impossible? Why should he bow before Democrats who will never work with him anyway? Trump’s backers see him as a new kind of president, unburdened by political correctness and unconstrained by the old rules of Beltway deal making. He doesn’t let niceties get in the way of taking care of business.
The intensity of public feelings about President Trump makes it hard to measure him against the presidency. His breaks with tradition are so jarring, and the murmuration of tweets so thick, that debate about his behavior tends to be conducted on the plane of propriety and the president’s seeming disregard for it. ...