The Corner

White House

Wait, Just Who Is Not ‘Letting Trump Be Trump’?

President Donald Trump takes questions during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 24, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

One of the president’s most devoted defenders, Jeffrey Lord, writes over at The American Spectator:

As this is written, the Trump White House is awash in almost the identical kind of political nonsense that engulfed the Reagan White House. The mantra is the same: The polls are a disaster, the president doesn’t get it, he needs to change course, he may withdraw and not run again, he’s going to lose in a landslide…

To wax Seinfeldesque? Yada, yada, yada.

My belief in the 1980s Reagan era was, Let Reagan be Reagan.

And looking back now, that is exactly what Americans loved about him.

And all these years later, as I suggested in 2013 when the political savants of the day said the very idea of a Trump candidacy was absurd?

Let Trump be Trump.

Who are these people who are allegedly not allowing Trump to be Trump? Do the president’s public comments, responses to interview questions, and tweets seem particularly stifled or carefully scripted or excessively strained by his staff? Does this president seem like a man who happily takes advice to choose his words carefully, to hide what he really thinks, and to attempt to match some stage-managed image instead of whatever he really thinks? Where is this different Trump that is being tied up and held back somewhere?

Can Lord point to any evidence at all that Trump is not “being Trump” and that the country hasn’t spent the past three and a half years witnessing “Trump being Trump”?

Because if Trump has been Trump, and he’s in the shape he’s in — with lousy polls and small turnout at his rally in Tulsa and difficulty even hinting at the broadest outlines of a second term agenda — then perhaps the problem isn’t that Trump is somehow being restrained or suppressed or micromanaged. Maybe the problem is Trump! Or maybe it’s just a heck of a lot easier to run against Hillary Clinton than Joe Biden.

The parallel between “let Reagan be Reagan” and “let Trump be Trump” probably hits a snag on the point that lots of Americans really liked Ronald Reagan — a much higher percentage of the public than the percentage that likes, or at least approves, of Trump.

One other way the Reagan–Trump comparison doesn’t work so well is that from mid-February 1984 on, Reagan pretty much stomped Walter Mondale in the polls.

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