- He has picked highly qualified and independent-minded assistants such as Jim Mattis for Defense (who considers Russia to be a threat), Rex Tillerson for State (who has urged action on climate change) and Mike Mulvaney for Budget Director (who wants entitlement reform). Mr. Trump has tweeted that “I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine.”
- For a president to have strong willed assistants is in the best American tradition: Washington (with Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton), Lincoln (with Chase, Seward and Stanton), Roosevelt (with Acheson, Marshall and Stimson), and Reagan ( with Baker, Shultz and Weinberger) all wanted their cabinet members to engage in vigorous discussion about fundamental policy.
- Trump forgoes ideology for simple cross-partisan principles such as America First, safety from terrorism and violent crime and better jobs and schools for the poor and working class, and defiance of self-serving elites.
- He is comfortable with controversy and dissent and often incites it to advantage. His tweets and pronouncements can be outrageous and overstated but they demonstrate a healthy skepticism toward ossified orthodoxy and are designed to stimulate debate rather than to close it down.
- His biggest mistake so far, the ill-advised travel ban for immigrants put on hold by a judicial Temporary Restraining Order, has been taken in stride by his administration while they reconsider how to proceed.
Conclusion. Ever since Mr. Trump’s election to the presidency, I have been saying that his ultimate success in office depends on whether or not he can address our country’s two biggest problems: 1) slow growth and 2) massive debt. At this point I am optimistic that he will succeed in doing these things.