Governing is harder than he thought

Trump’s weather-vane presidency gyrates wildly with the winds

 April 12 at 7:09 PM

President Trump rose to power on a combination of meanness, incoherence and falsehoods. His strategy depended almost entirely on playing off the unpopularity and weaknesses of others.

Every aspect of his approach has blown up on him since he took office, but as is always the case with Trump, he will not take any personal responsibility for what’s going wrong. He must find a scapegoat. The latest object of his opprobrium would seem to be Stephen K. Bannon, the chief White House strategist.

But dumping Bannon would only underscore the extent to which Trump is a political weather vane, gyrating wildly with the political winds. He’s “populist” one day, conventionally conservative the next and centrist the day after that. His implicit response is: Who cares? Let’s just get through another week.

The weather vane will twirl again soon because Trump faces renewed trouble, on an old front and a new one.
Trump has gone to great lengths — including lying about former president Barack Obama having his “wires tapped” — to distract from inquiries into his campaign’s possible ties to Russia’s effort to subvert the 2016 election.
But Tuesday brought a reminder that the story won’t go away until it’s resolved. The Post reported that the FBI obtained an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of the man Trump once listed as a foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. (Trump has since downgraded Page’s role to “low-level.”) The news was an indication of the seriousness of the investigation of links between Trump’s campaign and Russia. While Trump hopes that his administration’s complete about-face on Vladimir Putin — from fawning praise to hostility — will settle the matter, it won’t.

And then the good people of Kansas’s 4th Congressional District cast ballots in a special election on Tuesday. While Republican Ron Estes won the seat over Democrat James Thompson, Estes’s winning margin of nearly 7 percentage points was anemic compared with Trump’s 27-point win in the district last year. And Republican Mike Pompeo, whose appointment as Trump’s CIA director created the opening, was reelected last year by a margin of 31  percentage points.

This swing will petrify Republicans in Congress who, up to now, have largely stayed in line behind Trump. It’s also likely to give additional spine to Trump’s GOP critics, both on the far right and closer to the center.

As Trump’s comments to Goodwin showed, he still longs to run against “crooked Hillary.” He also still loves to bash Obama. But Trump is on his own, with only his own record to answer for. He can let go of Bannon and anyone else he wants to blame for the chaos of his presidency. But governing is hard, especially when your principles are as flexible as your relationship with the truth.

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