Trump’s Stunning Performance
A Statement of Presidential Leadership
Amidst a growing barrage of media attacks that charged policy chaos, staff incompetence, and even campaign misconduct, Donald Trump took control of his presidency Thursday in a stunning performance that reasserted the power of his personality and the root of his electoral success.
Trump did what he does best. The president took personal control of his agenda. Throughout an hour-long press conference, Trump showed once again his political skill in connecting with the millions of voters who put him in office. He framed the connection in his determination to do as president exactly what he said he would do as a candidate. He gave millions of Americans the reassurance that in implementing his agenda he is answering their call for a voice in the White House.
The rationale for the press conference was the bland announcement that he would name his new Secretary of Labor. After quickly dealing with that bit of housekeeping, the president recited a long list of initiatives and accomplishments achieved in the first four weeks of his presidency. The list highlighted many presidential actions that have received almost no media attention. For the one presidential initiative that drew widespread public and legal resistance – immigration and refugees – Trump said there would be a new executive order next week along with a continuing court battle.
Then Trump turned to the assembled press corps. He criticized them for fake news and dishonest reporting. He spared almost no one. He took dead aim at CNN, dismissed some questioners, and used other questions to make key policy points. He said there would be action next month to reform Obamacare; tax reform is in the works and on the way shortly.
The entire tone of the session reflected Trump’s most successful campaign tactic, namely the hugely successful long series of rallies that fueled his candidacy for a year and a half. Like any successful president, Trump used the session to speak directly to the American people. The assembled press was a useful nuisance. But the press was invaluable as a tool to display his determination and resolve.
Trump used the session to blast his political opponents. He chastised Senate Democrats for delaying confirmation of his cabinet. He attacked Hillary Clinton as an ineffective diplomat and a devious presidential candidate. In a slap at his successor, Trump emphasized that he inherited a mess. He said the country had been divided long before he took office.
He addressed the Michael Flynn incident as best he could. He stated the unacceptable conflict with the vice president that led to the national security adviser’s resignation. Then Trump put the focus back on the leaks of classified information. These are highly illegal acts that may receive attention from the Trump Justice Department.
Throughout the session, Trump was feisty and humorous. He had full command of his message and agenda, leaving no doubt about who is in charge of the White House. The president was clearly enjoying himself. He never ducked a question or took the easy way out. He relished the combat with a hostile media that has pounded him from the moment he entered the Oval Office.
The president made a point of mentioning that he will address a public rally on Saturday afternoon in Florida. He will be back in his element, speaking to his people in familiar surroundings. But he set the stage on Thursday in the East Room of the White House. Donald Trump is in charge.
Image Source: By Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons
License: Public domain
During the course of his career, Walker has worked in Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, and Phoenix. He served as a reporter in Chicago, a press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, and in numerous positions in New York in corporate and financial services communications.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.