Thursday, March 02, 2017

A Successful Four Years? Our President Learns?

Here's how Trump has a successful four years:
  • give cabinet members leeway to do their own thing
  • dominate the news media using his time-tested schtick
  • make proposals which sound good but which may not come to fruition
  • have a handful of real accomplishments
So lots of sound and fury which appeals to the Republican base while the executive branch handles the daily stuff, mixed with some real accomplishments to appeal to those outside the base.  This is somewhat like the Reagan formula.  He was never very involved in detailed policy or administration, and was more flexible than expected.

Newt Gingrich said something in the paper in morning about Trump being a good learner.  Others, including Gail Collins in the Times today, say he's very curious in small meetings and asks a lot of questions.  So here's a hypothesis:  Trump gets good reviews from acting Presidential Tuesday night.  That represents the "swamp" (aka the established political order) rewarding him for conforming to its norms.  If Trump truly does learn, which is to be proven, and he truly does crave praise, which seems well proven, then he will gradually alter his behavior so he's more like a conventional president.  So what we're seeing now is a process where the establishment is punishing and rewarding Trump for his behavior.

I think the hypothesis is reasonable.  However how likely to change is a 70-year old man?  Not very, I'd say.  On the other hand, he doesn't have a long history as a political actor, so maybe more likely than Nixon, who tried to change every few years.  There's also incentives to stay the course, maintaining faith with his supporters, and close associates. 

Conceivably if the hypothesis works, and Trump is lucky with the economy and foreign policy he'll have a successful presidency. 

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