January 26, 2017

From most partisan Obama to post-partisan Trump

There's an article on Roll Call today about president Trump's charm offensive and how it contrasts with Obama's style. Obama was distant with Congress and in fact, often hostile.  There are differences of course that facilitate the difference.  Obama had a mostly opposition Congress (i.e. during most of his tenure as president) whereas Trump starts with a Republican majority.  However, Trump has already reached across the aisle (much to the chagrin of a lot of his supporters) whereas Obama treated them like some sort of disease.
Over the last eight years, Obama and his aides hosted private-sector officials and stakeholders from the nonprofit world regularly. But the 44th president was often criticized for not socializing more with lawmakers, though his top aides near the end essentially argued a president should not have to — and expressed their belief that Republicans poisoned the relationship from the start.
Oh really? Try another excuse.

President Trump's obviously a dealmaker and you can't make deals with hostile intent. You can bargain from a position of strength and you can be a tough negotiator, but more people at the table is being more inclusive. In that respect so far, president Trump has been much more inclusive and post-partisan than his predecessor who claimed he would be the first post-partisan president and as it turned instead he was the most partisan president.

Trump's moves are shrewd. First engaging union leaders he has stolen (or at least started on stealing) a once rock-solid constituency from the Democrats - labor. In fact he did that before the election, but he's working to consolidate it now. By reaching across the aisle, he's started working on stealing the narrative from the media. It's hard to convince the public that president Trump is being a partisan president when he's spending so much time with Chuck Schumer.

Meanwhile Democrats have held up his nominees, and the media is busy fighting battles with Trump on the terms he's laid out, for example inauguration crowd sizes. All of this serves as a means of keeping the media running in circles while his agenda moves forward - energy, jobs, a wall, SCOTUS nominee etc. are all playing second fiddle to "Trump said something stupid again". The media just doesn't get that voters have discounted Trump's seemingly ill-advised tweets and focused on what's actually getting done. It's only the media who are fixated on tweets and by doing so they are missing the Trump agenda to a large extent. I'm confident that it's exactly what Trump is hoping would happen.

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