There seem to be a fair number of people these days loudly complaining that the unpredictable presidential candidate named Donald J. Trump has become the unpredictable president named Donald J. Trump. Imagine that.
Less than three months into their standard-bearer’s presidency, Trump supporters openly fret that the man who made billions selling customers and investors everything from condos to casinos, from steaks to university degrees, is changing course on them. Just like a real politician.
Of course, the 70-year-old real estate baron isn’t a real politician. Most politicians have some kind of ideological tethering, political brand beliefs that generally guide their statements, actions and votes.
Trump, always remember, is a businessman. Successful businesspeople are tethered to one thing: success.
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Trump hasn’t been taken over by any establishment people, anti-establishment people, semi-establishment people. If he’s so susceptible to others telling him what to do, how to explain his continued often-embarrassing tweets?
Trump is just looking for a win. His early flurry of executive orders was a win. He could draft, sign and impose them all by himself.
When the Obamacare repeal came out of the House to replace the Affordable Care Act, it was like a half-aspirin for a migraine. But Trump loyally jumped right in like a team leader, pitched political woo with spoiled rogue Republicans. He even made a rare presidential political pilgrimage to their Hill.
What happened? Bupkis happened. The elected Washington political establishment, which never wanted Trump in the first place, let him down because they’re more interested in being onstage professing principle than scoring any points in the larger game. It is easier to oppose than actually govern – though there is a new plan to take another run at the issue.
Wily old Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did come through, big time, with a historic Supreme Court confirmation. Trump gave him a justice candidate right out of central casting. And McConnell delivered his 52 votes plus three Democrats to boot.
Trump scored his own points again with a well-planned, decisive, measured missile strike on Syria that was, most importantly, well explained. Some in Congress whined over not being consulted. Seriously? Those people keep secrets like colanders hold water.
But now, what? Trump the businessman-elected-president needs some big wins.
So the government’s chief executive is looking around for advice. Enter family Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Their Manhattan Democrat background makes them suspect to puritans. But early signs are promising, including Trump’s renewed NATO support and decision to not labeling China a currency manipulator (likely part of a quiet deal for Beijing to pressure North Korea).
On support now for the Export-Import Bank, a favorite conservative target, Trump says he did not know how much it helps smaller businesses sell abroad. So the new president is admitting to learning?
Given the recent jobs record of presidents who knew everything already, this is encouraging.
Andrew Malcolm is a veteran national and foreign correspondent.