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Trump’s power collapsing as administration officials increasingly ignore his orders: columnist

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Touching on two of President Donald Trump’s proposals that appear to have floundered after the president made a public display of ordering staffers to proceed with his plans, a columnist for Bloomberg said Trump is quickly turning into a president in name only.

According to Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein, two of the president’s recent proclamations made with great fanfare went nowhere or were scaled back to irrelevancy.

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Quoting Buzzfeed, Bernstein relayed: “Although President Donald Trump tweeted that he had ordered his administration to cut off disaster aid to wildfire victims in California, federal officials confirmed on Wednesday that they never received any such directive.”

He then turned to the scaling back of Trump’s much-ballyhooed “Space Force.”

“Bowing to bipartisan concerns in Congress, President Trump retreated Tuesday from his plan to create an independent ‘space force’ in the Pentagon, proposing instead to consolidate the military’s space operations and personnel in the Air Force,” Bernstein wrote, linking to the Los Angeles Times report.

“In both cases, it’s as if Trump had carefully read Richard Neustadt’s classic study of presidential power and then chosen to do the exact opposite of what it advises,” the Bloomberg columnist wrote.

“The thing is, there’s no plausible interpretation that looks good for him,” Bernstein continued. “Either he’s not being honest, he doesn’t know how to achieve his goals in office, or he knows but he’s so ineffectual that agencies can disregard him with little consequence. Maybe it’s some combination.”

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Citing Neustadt, he continued, “A president who develops a reputation for being easy to defeat will in fact become increasingly easy to defeat. So one thing that wise presidents do is avoid losing fights. If they do have to engage in them, they’ll try to keep their losses from being obvious to professional president-watchers, a group that includes by necessity virtually everyone who must deal with the president.”

“Although the office of the presidency itself is strong, any given occupant will struggle to get anything done unless his party or Congress or the bureaucracy really prioritizes it,” he explained. “We tend to attribute accomplishments to Trump or Barack Obama or George W. Bush. Yet a careful study of events will often show that presidents are usually only going along with what others wanted.”

He then concluded, “Trump offers a pretty good example: Nearly every time he’s gone out on his own, he’s been defeated.”

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You can read the whole piece here (subscription required).

 

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