Is Donald Trump Changing The Presidency Or Is It Changing Him? four Historians Weigh In : NPR


President Donald Trump talks to the media earlier than he and first girl Melania Trump depart from the White House on Marine One on November three, 2017.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump talks to the media earlier than he and first girl Melania Trump depart from the White House on Marine One on November three, 2017.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A 12 months in the past Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, and the surprises have not stopped since.

He promised to be a transformational president, to empty the swamp and shake up the institution.

And he promised that being president would change him — saying that he might develop into extra “presidential” than anybody besides Abraham Lincoln.

NPR requested 4 historians for his or her tackle how the presidency has modified Trump and the way Trump has modified the presidency. Here are their observations on Trump, after 10 months within the Oval Office and a 12 months after his election victory.

H.W Brands, creator of biographies of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan

Brands says that being president hasn’t modified Donald Trump in any respect. And that is a shock.

“Previous candidates who get elected are almost always sobered by the office and the responsibility they take on,” Brands says, “Donald Trump shows no evidence of that. He’s the same Trump that he was when he was host of his reality TV show. He’s the same Trump that he was when he was a candidate.”

That’s precisely what Trump’s supporters wished. They wished the candidate who channeled their grievances in opposition to the institution and the elites to do the identical factor as president.

If the presidency hasn’t reworked Trump, Brands believes Trump has reworked the presidency. The largest change is the best way Trump’s “America First” presidency pertains to the remainder of the world.

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“The president of the United States from the 1940s until 2017 was considered the leader of the free world — probably the most powerful person in the world not simply in terms of America’s military might, but in terms of the moral authority of the president,” says Brands, “Donald Trump has largely abdicated that. He has spoken of ….. abrogating America’s obligations, at undermining America’s alliances and not really caring when other countries violate the human rights of their own people.”

Right now, say Brands, the president of the United States is now not the main determine in world affairs.

Douglas Brinkley, creator of biographies of Gerald Ford, John F, Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and each Roosevelts

To Brinkley, Trump has reworked the presidency by means of his use of social media.

By tweeting incessantly he units the agenda for the media and controls the narrative. Every president complains about their press protection and rails at “media bias.” But no president, says Brinkley, has tried to delegitimize the press the best way Donald Trump has.

“Richard Nixon ate up a lot of clock trying to destroy the press. Trump now has a mechanism to do it because he’s not beholden in any way, shape, or form to traditional media,” Brinkley says, “So by going over them, it gives him an instant kind of power and credibility… every day he wants the lead story to be ‘Trump.’ Even if it’s controversial, it allows him to be the dominant force in American politics.”

Barbara Perry, director of the Center for Presidential Studies on the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and editor of books on George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton

Perry says Trump has used his dominance to vary the normal relationship between a president and his celebration. Trump is a divisive determine inside the GOP. He’s acquired extra scathing public criticism from distinguished members of his personal celebration than another trendy president.

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But as a result of Trump has succeeded in remaking the celebration in his personal ethno-nationalist, populist picture, he has managed to restrict that public criticism to only a handful of Republicans. And all of them share one necessary attribute — they’re now not operating for workplace. Perry says Trump and his former political adviser Steve Bannon have created a brand new celebration line for the GOP.

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“It does appear that they have cowed the party regulars. They’ve cowed the party traditionalists,” Perry says, “We have seen it already with the Jeff Flakes in the party, who are having to step aside and actually step out of politics at least for a while. And if that happens, if people who oppose him leave the party, or leave politics, that will be a success for him.”

William Inboden, affiliate professor on the LBJ School of Public Affairs on the University of Texas and onetime staffer within the George W. Bush White House

Inboden factors to a number of areas the place Trump has rejected the normal function of U.S. president. He hasn’t embraced the function of “pastor in chief” who consoles the nation at instances of tragedy. Instead of seeing his function as an ethical authority — somebody who tries to unify the nation — Trump has been persistently divisive and partisan, significantly after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and after the current terrorist badault in New York City.

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He’s ignored the normal boundary between the chief govt and the Justice Department, repeatedly calling on the FBI and the DOJ (companies which can be alleged to be unbiased relating to prison investigations) to go after his political enemies.

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As the “legislator in chief” Trump has additionally departed from previous presidential custom and subcontracted his agenda to his celebration leaders in Congress. Perhaps as results of his indifference to the main points of coverage, says Inboden, Trump has but to signal into regulation a single piece of great laws.

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“We talked to Republicans in Congress and they have two concerns: one, sometimes he’s not giving them any directions, ” Inboden says, “Other times he’s giving them five different directions simultaneously”

Historians have already begun to consider the presidency post-Trump. Inboden wonders how most of the adjustments Trump has made to the workplace will outlive his tenure.

“As we look at previous presidents who have weakened the authority of the presidency: Nixon did it through overreach and criminality, Carter weakened the presidency through lack of competence in a number of areas, Bill Clinton weakened the president through some salacious behavior,” he says, “But President Trump thus far seems to be weakening the presidency primarily through neglect and indifference to the traditional roles of the presidency. And I do worry that whoever his successor is, in four or eight years, will inherit a diminished office.”

Trump himself could not have been modified by his time within the White House, however to those 4 historians there is no doubt that he is fulfilled his promise to convey huge, disruptive change to Washington, D.C., — at the least within the quick time period.

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