“Trump goes rogue”

That’s the title of this New York Times op-ed by Matthew Continetti. He cites the firing of Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, and says it sends the following message:

After six months of trying to behave like a conventional Republican president, he’s done. His opponents now include not only the Democrats, but the elites of both political parties.

This is a reasonable interpretation of where Trump is. The question is whether it’s a good place to be.

Continetti gets to this question at the end of his column. He writes that, when it comes to willingness to work with the political class:

Mr. Trump has more in common with Jimmy Carter [than with Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton]. Neither president had much governing experience before assuming office (Mr. Trump, of course, had none).

Like Mr. Carter, Mr. Trump was carried to the White House on winds of change he did not fully understand. Members of their own parties viewed both men suspiciously, and both relied on their families. Neither president, nor their inner circles, meshed with the tastemakers of Washington. And each was reactive, hampered by events he did not control.

If President Trump wants to avoid Mr. Carter’s fate, he might start by recognizing that a war on every front is a war he is likely to lose, and that victory in war requires allies. Some even live in the swamp.

Other presidents have tried to govern without support of the leaders of their political party. John Tyler and Andrew Johnson come to mind. Their presidencies worked out no better than Jimmy Carter’s.

Continetti’s article should be read in conjunction with this story by Dan Balz of the Washington Post. Balz observes that in one week (last week) Trump generated push back from (1) mild-mannered Sen. Charles Grassley, (2) Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs, (3) the head of the Boy Scouts, and (4) the Suffolk County Police Department.

Note that only one of these four rebukes, the one by Gen. Dunford, involved a significant public policy question — service by transgender people in the military. Moreover, Dunford’s push back may have been less about the policy than about how Trump announced it.

Note, as well, that two of the four rebukes came from outside the beltway. The Boy Scouts are not “swamp creatures.” Nor is the Suffolk County Police Department.

Balz concludes that the multiple pushing back “from the Trump-friendly side of the American electorate should be a signal to the president.” He wonders, though, whether Trump listening?

I think not.

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