Politics & Policy

Inside the Trump White House

The Washington Post has an entertaining article on the state of things in the Trump White House. A few thoughts related to or inspired by it:

1. This passage is getting the most attention:

Trump has been resentful, even furious, at what he views as the media’s failure to reflect the magnitude of his achievements, and he feels demoralized that the public’s perception of his presidency so far does not necessarily align with his own sense of accomplishment.

This does not bode well, given that this is supposed to be the president’s honeymoon. Trump’s unalloyed craving for respect is precisely why it is often most elusive. If he stuck to most of the stuff he did yesterday — meeting with business leaders, signing executive orders — he’d get more respect and support. But, as we saw at the CIA over the weekend (not to mention reports he told people on the Hill that he would have won the popular vote if not for millions of illegal voters), Trump has to try to lead the witnesses, to plead his own case that he deserves more respect than he thinks he’s getting and as result, it slips through his fingers.

2. Then there’s this:

The broader power struggles within the Trump operation have touched everything from the new administration’s communications shop to the expansive role of the president’s son-in-law to the formation of Trump’s political organization. At the center, as always, is Trump himself, whose ascent to the White House seems to have only heightened his acute sensitivity to criticism.

From everything I’ve heard this strikes me as right. But the more interesting takeaway is what the whole article implies: Everybody in the Trump administration is talking to the press. This has been going on for a long time. Because Trump — sometimes to his benefit, sometimes not — breaks the old playbook, a lot of people who have independent reputations, identities, and relationships from Trump are eager to tell folks “this wasn’t my idea.”

Also, because Trump often listens to whichever advisor suits his mood or talked to him last, the fight for proximity to Trump will likely result in lots of aides trying to kill each other through leaks. Hardcore Trump partisans will respond to every negative story with “fake news!” etc. But they should probably know that most of these stories from top news outlets will have at least a couple of sources inside the White House or administration talking on background. That doesn’t mean the stories will be entirely accurate. But it will mean that there is someone behind the scenes giving it legs.

3. Finally, any hope — or fears — that there will be a “new” presidential or pivoted Donald Trump should be laid to rest. For good or ill, or rather for good and ill, the man we’ve seen all this time is the man we got.

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