I didn’t watch the Trump presser yesterday but all indications were that it was, as Josh Marshall wrote, not normal.
The President-elect personally dressed-down a CNN reporter in scathing terms. He limited his comments on what a replacement plan for Obamacare would look like to a vague promise to “repeal and replace” the healthcare law “essentially simultaneously.” His responses were cheered on enthusiastically by a small group of staffers.
In short, two months after winning the White House in a historic upset and nine days out from Inauguration Day, Trump appeared no closer to adhering to the norms that have traditionally regulated the office he is poised to assume.
Little of the press conference was devoted to laying out a policy vision. There were few comments about working with Congress on healthcare, an overarching foreign policy strategy or a job creation plan.
Instead, Trump spoke in broad terms about his intention to be “the greatest jobs producer that God ever created” and to create a healthcare system that is “far less expensive and far better” than Obamacare. Asked about the plan his lawyer outlined in the presser for disentangling himself from the Trump Organization, Trump gave himself credit for turning down “$2 billion to do a deal in Dubai” with Middle Eastern developer Hussein Damack, who he deemed “a friend of mine, great guy.”
“The language that Trump will bring into the office is very different than that of most presidents, who have certainly been cheerleaders for themselves, but still much more measured and operating in a kind of collective discourse rather than a kind of I, I, I discourse where it’s all about him,” Bruce Miroff, a political science professor and expert on the U.S. presidency at the University of Albany, told TPM.
We are told by pundits and Very Serious People that this is why Trump was elected in the first place: to shake up things, not do the presidency in the way it’s been done before, and that’s what the voters wanted. They were tired of the nostrums and jibber-jabber of the forty-four men that came before him.
The problem with that is that the structure of our government, whether or not you like it, wasn’t built to withstand that kind of seismic activity. You can’t just ignore the rules because you don’t like them or say they don’t apply to you when clearly history has proved that they either do or were put in place to prevent people from doing exactly what you’re doing. It’s like saying “I don’t want to stand in line at the bank waiting to make a withdrawal and filling out a bunch of paperwork. Hand me that Glock 9, willya?”
There’s another problem, and that is building up expectations. If you say you’re going to be the greatest jobs creator or the best friend of the downtrodden, you had better get results, and fast. The attention span of the American public is notoriously short, but they do remember when they’ve been promised something and are waiting to get it. If they don’t, then what?
Bonus Track: Charlie Pierce’s take on the presser.
What was beaming in from New York was nothing less than a genuine aspiring American dictator having what amounted to a very public tantrum. By the way, you knew it was a bag job when you saw that El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago had brought in his own personal claque of hecklers and cheerleaders. (It should be noted for the record that the “fake news” chant is merely lugenpresse for the digital age.) And the first thing he did on Wednesday morning was intimate that it’s the American intelligence community that is a bunch of fascists.