How Trump has up­ended Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics as usual

Shred­ding the rules of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON: Dur­ing his un­ortho­dox White House cam­paign, Don­ald Trump thor­oughly shred­ded the rules of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, from his of­ten coarse lan­guage to his in­ter­mit­tent dis­dain for ba­sic con­cepts like free­dom of the press.

Since de­feat­ing Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton on Novem­ber 8 to be­come the US pres­i­dent-elect, his ti­tle un­til he suc­ceeds Barack Obama on Jan­uary 20, he has made a mock­ery of those who said he would even­tu­ally fall in line.

While he ad­mit­tedly fol­lowed pro­to­col dur­ing his post-elec­tion visit to the White House, treat­ing Obama with def­er­ence in the Oval Of­fice, the Repub­li­can bil­lion­aire has oth­er­wise blazed a new path in pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tions.

His style seems to in­di­cate that the Man­hat­tan prop­erty mogul will be a pres­i­dent like no other.

Vic­tory tour

Can­di­date Trump thrived on the cam­paign trail at his large arena ral­lies. Pres­i­dent-elect Trump has tried to recre­ate that at­mos­phere with his “thank you” tour through the swing states that pro­pelled him to vic­tory, wrap­ping up Satur­day in Mobile, Alabama.

Hats with slo­gans, anti-Clin­ton chants and plenty of col­or­ful signs? They’re back. “They are say­ing, as pres­i­dent he shouldn’t be do­ing ral­lies but I think we should, right?” Trump told the cheer­ing crowd in Mobile. “We’ve done ev­ery­thing else the op­po­site. This is the way you get an hon­est word out be­cause you can’t give it to them be­cause they are so dis­hon­est,” he added, slip­ping in one of his cus­tom­ary jabs at the me­dia.

For Peter Kas­tor, a his­tory pro­fes­sor at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St Louis, “the ‘thank you’ tour is un­usual for pres­i­dents, but it is com­pletely con­sis­tent with his cam­paign style.” “Ev­ery pres­i­dent has in some way con­structed the trip to the na­tional cap­i­tal as a sym­bolic move, and Don­ald Trump is do­ing so in a way that is un­like all of his pre­de­ces­sors,” he said.

Press con­fer­ences? No, thanks

Eight years ago, at this stage of the tran­si­tion, Obama had held nearly a dozen press con­fer­ences, in the midst of an eco­nomic cri­sis. Trump has held... none.

The 70-year-old pres­i­dent-elect has given a hand­ful of in­ter­views, in­clud­ing three lengthy ones to CBS, The New York Times and Fox News. When Bill Clin­ton, Ge­orge W. Bush and Obama wanted to make key cabi­net nom­i­na­tions, they in­tro­duced their cho­sen ones to the press.

Trump sends state­ments, many of them ei­ther at 6:00 am or late at night, or sim­ply posts news on Twit­ter. And his in­com­ing chief of staff Reince Priebus cre­ated a stir in the White House press corps by sug­gest­ing ma­jor changes could lie in store for the tra­di­tional daily me­dia brief­ings.

Re­al­ity show cabi­net hunt

The re­cruit­ment of his cabi­net so far has more or less un­folded in the pub­lic eye, with most can­di­dates forced to run the me­dia gaunt­let through the lobby of Trump Tower or at his re­sort prop­er­ties in New Jersey or Florida.

For­mer Trump critic-turned-ad­mirer Mitt Rom­ney made the pil­grim­age twice, only to be dumped as sec­re­tary of state-des­ig­nate in fa­vor of ExxonMo­bil CEO Rex Tiller­son... who Trump only met for the first time on De­cem­ber 6.

Pol­i­tics take back seat

Usu­ally, state gov­er­nors and US sen­a­tors are the most likely choices for cabi­net posts. Not this time. Trump has cho­sen an in­ner cir­cle in his own im­age-mainly white, mainly male in­dus­try ti­tans and in­vestors, many of them mil­lion­aires and a hand­ful of them bil­lion­aires.

Obama’s team in­cluded a No­bel physics lau­re­ate. Trump has cho­sen three for­mer gen­er­als.

Gen­der equal­ity?

Keep­ing the male-fe­male di­vide even in pol­i­tics has al­ways been a chal­lenge in the United States. There were only six women given cabi­net or cabi­net-rank po­si­tions in Obama’s first ad­min­is­tra­tion, but one of them was sec­re­tary of state Hil­lary Clin­ton. Trump has so far cho­sen four women, all for sec­ondtier posts. The first 11 peo­ple in the or­der of pres­i­den­tial suc­ces­sion will be men. And so far, he has named only one African-Amer­i­can-Ben Car­son-and no Lati­nos.

Me­la­nia in New York

In­com­ing first lady Me­la­nia Trump and the cou­ple’s 10-year-old son Bar­ron will not move into the White House on Jan­uary 20 as is cus­tom­ary, in­stead re­main­ing in New York at least un­til the school year ends.

For Kas­tor, this is a first. “These are big cul­tural mo­ments about the pres­i­dency-the tran­si­tion is of­ten the story about how this fam­ily is go­ing to move,” he told AFP. “There are all these sto­ries about how they are pack­ing up, and about what does it mean to move from a sim­ple, pri­vate res­i­dence into this big, pub­lic one,” Kas­tor added. “So this is com­pletely un­usual.”

MOBILE, ALABAMA: US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump greets mem­bers of the Aza­lea Trail Maids as he ar­rives in Mobile, Alabama, for a ‘Thank You Tour 2016’ rally on De­cem­ber 17, 2016.

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