by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Donald Trump promised he’d be a different kind of president, and he’s certainly delivered.
He’s not one of those politicians who campaigns as one sort of person and then governs as quite another. While voters were weighing him as a possible president, he made it clear that he saw the norms of American politics and government as contemptible. He showed himself to have excellent instincts—or at least an eye for the main chance—but not to be interested in the details of public policy or inclined to listen to those who are. A small circle of family and close friends were the only people whose counsel he took to heart. He had no guiding political principles but placed immense value on personal loyalty to him. His words weren’t meant to be taken as literally as those of other politicians, and he was much less coy than they were about bragging.
Some people hated all these traits and thought they rendered him unfit for office. Others loved them, or thought they were tolerable given what they saw as the need to blow up a dysfunctional Washington that was incapable of solving dire national problems. What no one on either side can honestly say is that they have cause for shock at the style of Trump’s governance. He may not have delivered on this or that applause line, but he’s been the same man he showed us in 2016 and, indeed, long before then.
The controversies that are now consuming the capital—about Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, his sharing of intelligence with Russian officials, and his alleged attempt to get the FBI to stop investigating his former adviser Michael Flynn—may be scandals, but they aren’t surprises, not in their broad contours.