Fantasies of Control

I was discussing with a friend this morning that much of the drama and chaos of the first months of the Trump administration is explained by a simple fact: President Trump thinks running the US government is essentially like running his private family business in which people work for him (it’s a very personalized operation) and people have to do what he says. That’s not how the US government works at all. It’s not even how the executive branch runs.

But you can also see that President Trump frequently believes that he can define public opinion and reality in a way that Presidents are never able to do. Here’s the President’s reaction to what is now starting to look like the real end of Obamacare repeal. “It will be a lot easier and I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then Democrats will come to us and say ‘How do we fix it?’”

Good luck.

It is one of the most basic rules of political life that no one has much of any control of what they ‘own’. It follows a mix of logic, public opinion and just fate. But you don’t decide. Did President Obama and the Democrats choose to own the still flagging economy of 2010? Of course not. But they did and they were decimated in the 2010 election. To date, every poll has suggested that fair or not (and I’d say it’s largely is) Trump and the Republicans are own health care now. It doesn’t matter what Trump says. That’s just not how it works.

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