On Evaluating President Trump: Put Substance over Style


In Sunday’s New York Times, the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Peter Wehner wrote: “Donald Trump is a transgressive personality.  He thrives on creating disorder, in violating rules, in provoking outrage.  He is a shock jock.  . . . For Mr. Trump, nothing is sacred.  The truth is malleable, instrumental, subjective.  It is all about him.  It is always about him.”

I understand that he is a narcissist but I am paying as much attention to what he does as to what he says.  For example:

  • Economic Policy. A major focus of his campaign was to get the economy growing faster. His appointments so far will help in this regard. Mnuchin at Treasury is for tax reform and financial deregulation. Price at HHS is for healthcare deregulation. Pruitt at EPA is for loosening environmental rules. He may try to negotiate modifications to NAFTA but he is too smart to start a trade war which would be devastating to the overall economy. His best hope for being re-elected in 2020 is to create more jobs and better paying jobs for his fervent blue-collar supporters.
  • Education Policy. K-12 public education for minorities in many big inner cities is a disaster. Betsy DeVos is an education reform activist in Michigan. Shaking up the education establishment is a good idea.
  • Fiscal Policy. Our public debt is much too large and must be reduced, sooner rather than later, before we have a new fiscal crisis. This will be very difficult to do because it means modifying entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare which Mr. Trump has said he won’t do. The Republican House is adamant about shrinking the debt and it is hard to imagine Mr. Trump standing in the way. It will be fascinating to see how he finesses this critical issue.

Conclusion. Far from being a detriment to performing his presidential duties, Mr. Trump’s rhetorical skills could come in very handy in moving our nation forward.

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