Perhaps the Donald Trump presidency will cool the American electorate’s infatuation with non-politicians.
Trump came to office as the ultimate outsider, with not a whit of experience in political office and no familiarity with the levers and gears of government. Voters loved that he did not emerge from from the D.C. swamp. But now it is sucking him under.
At some point, a president — or any high-level office-holder — no matter how proudly independent of the establishment, has to open the door and come inside. Trump can’t find that entry point. He continues his campaign attacks on the government he is supposed to be leading.
Worse, he hasn’t missed a single trap or trip wire that a president with a deeper knowledge of politics would instinctively sense and avoid. Trump has no internal card file archiving past crises and solutions to draw upon in times of trouble.
He is a rank amateur up against cutthroat pros who are having him for lunch.
And he has very little help. Because of his deep distrust of almost everyone not named Trump, he came to office without the typical loyal coterie of lieutenants who could not only fill in the blanks in his background, but detect and fend off his many foes.
Trump’s suspicious nature and an ego that convinces him he’s always right limits his most inner circle to his children and son-in-law, all of whom are equally untutored in the political game. They’ve not shielded him from the arrows that rain down on any president.
Instead, they’ve hurt him with their own naivete. I don’t think Donald Trump Jr. had a clue about what he was doing when he met with a supposed Russian operative in hopes of obtaining opposition info on Hillary Clinton. Rather, he was blissfully ignorant, thrilled at the prospect of landing a big fish for Daddy and elevating himself above his siblings.
That’s what happens when you field a team that has never before played the game.
Trump’s ardent supporters argue, and not without some merit, that he is facing an unprecedented assault by Democrats deranged by his very presence and a media relentlessly trying to discredit him.
But Trump is the author of his own misery, if he’s aware enough to be miserable. His pistol is always pointed at his foot, with the safety off.
The secret to success for an outsider is to surround yourself with insiders.
But because of the shocking inappropriateness of Donald Trump, his erraticism and his despotism, the best and brightest of his own party want nothing to do with him. The veteran Washington hands who might have helped another Republican president won’t hitch their stars to an administration destined for ruin.
Experience is as valuable a commodity as judgment and character, even among would-be leaders of the highest caliber. Businessman-turned-governor Rick Snyder might have sidestepped the disastrous fallout from the Flint water crisis, for example, had his political antennae been better tuned.
Trump is certainly unique; another mogul with aspirations to the presidency might not be such a determined mess. But next time, we should demand some political chops from the person we choose for the world’s biggest and toughest political job.