These last weeks have been exasperating. In my attempts to keep abreast of what’s is going on, I have virtually lost faith in TV and radio channels. The constant flow of information from the President, often via Twitter, is at a speed and of a form that we can hardly keep up with. See The First Digital President. Pundits are mostly out of date and irrelevant. Universally they suggest that President Trump’s style is outrageous and not presidential. The use of Twitter is new, but is Trumps’ combative style really that new?
I found an Opinion piece in this weekend’s US print edition of the Wall Street Journal that seems spot-on in capturing the current dynamic. The article, The Method in Trump’s Tumult, by Christopher DeMuth, a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute, suggests that Trump’s methods might look odd and different to those of us used to the monotonous dogma of political rhetoric subscribed to by politicians in recent years. But really his methods are not new at all. They are provan and well trod by previous Presidents.
“President Trump may be rediscovering a venerable method of leadership that has been forgotten in our era of ideological messaging. Rather than viewing disagreements as a problem, previous American leaders wielded it as a tool. The surrounded themselves with highly accomplished, strong minded advisers, and used vigorous debate among them to generate fully considered options for confronting the intractable problems of the day.”
Given that his political enemies suggest his methods create disarray, Mr. DeMuth’s ideas make a lot of sense since this disarray might be a means to an end – not the end itself. His article explores multiple examples of past President’s (including Washington) and how they surrounded themselves with folks who often spoke out and at odds with each other. After reading the article one is left with the feeling that Trump’s lack of political experience and rich management flora, resulting in this behavior, is refreshing. It is, but it seems to be misunderstood and at odds with his detractors. Maybe the left-leaning press will grasp this eventually and start to analyze policy, rather than pick and snipe at Tweets.