I’ve been struggling to get a feeling that there’s a steady hand on the tiller in Trump-land of late. This week has been especially troubling with the following happening on Friday alone:
- Trump encouraging Congress to go after NBC for a leaked intelligence doc on the Russian hacking. (Twitter) This, two hours ahead of his DNI security briefing on the Russian hacking.
- Trump railing against his successor on the Celebrity Apprentice for low ratings. (Twitter) As a note, the ratings for Schwarzenegger’s Apprentice were 5 million viewers above the last show that Trump hosted, but, as Trump so inelegantly points out, they were below the first show of his last season. <HEAVY SIGH>
- Trump lambasting the media for laying the prospective cost of a wall at the feet of American taxpayers rather than Mexico. (Twitter)
All this before heading downtown to meet with the editors at Conde Naste at Anne Wintour’s invitation.
One of the more interesting things to me during all this time of presidential transition and the cock-eyed manner in which it’s taking place is the comparisons made to previous administrations… in the positive, negative, and unprecedented. There was a particularly good comparison this morning in Fortune’s CEO Daily Saturday Morning Post by Tory Newmyer, which I thought was interesting:
Is it possible, however, there’s a deeper game afoot? Is Trump taking a page from the leadership playbook of the last man to assume the presidency without any prior experience in elected office? Dwight D. Eisenhower frequently presented as an affable but bumbling figure, a profile he cultivated in order to conceal a highly active and aggressive prosecution of his power behind the scenes. The full extent of the strategy — what Princeton historian Fred Greenstein came to call “the hidden-hand presidency” — didn’t become clear until decades later, when Ike’s presidential papers went public. Trump’s closest advisors already insist he’s operating with far more guile than his detractors understand. After all, it’s gotten him this far. Eisenhower, too, was underestimated, starting with the man he succeeded (Harry Truman said Ike’s inexperience in politics would cripple him, predicting, “He’ll sit here and he’ll say, ‘Do this, do that,’ and nothing will happen.”) But Eisenhower secured and preserved the peace, threatening our enemies with nuclear annihilation while leveraging cheap covert force to check Communist ambitions abroad. At home, he oversaw massive infrastructure investments that he balanced against the urgency of Cold War defense spending, reasoning in a 1953 speech, “The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.”
I do hope that we don’t have to wait decades to have any insight into Trump-land, but I do hope that the analysis is right… for the sake of all of us in this age of accelerations.