One of the more amusing aspects of the Donald Trump show is how he seems to think that he can plonk his posterior down in the Oval Office and do stuff Just Like That.
The last time a self-proclaimed “different” person ran for office and gained a significant share of the vote was in 1992, when Ross Perot ran as an Independent. At the time, in interviews that I saw in the UK, Perot behaved a lot of the time like the highly successful businessman that he was. He consistently made comments indicating that he saw the USA as simply like EDS, only a lot bigger, and that he would bring some of his successful “business discipline” to bear on the USA if elected, and SHAZAM! things would be better, and damn quick.
The thing was, I had seen how that panned out when tried in the UK in the early 1970s. The Conservative Party, partly as a reaction to what they saw as the dangerous tendency for the Labour Party to listen to input from trade union leaders, began a campaign to get business leaders to enter the government. They persuaded John Davies to quit his business job, arranged for him to be given a “safe” Member of Parliament seat, and promoted him to be Trade and Industry secretary.
The move was a disaster. Davies had no idea about the very real differences between being a CEO and being in government. He was a poor performer on television, was a terrible speaker in the House of Commons, and failed to form any constructive working relationships with civil servants, who are essential enablers in the UK government system for Getting Stuff Done, and he soon discovered that the sort of hard-nosed thinking that leads to uneconomic private businesses being shut down is not applicable to large national industries that are labor-intensive, where closedowns have the ability to lead to governments being un-elected. After several years, he gradually withdrew from politics, and returned to business.
I was thinking of this when I saw Ross Perot being questioned by interviewers on his policy ideas in 1992. He sometimes became irascible and short with interviewers who asked him penetrating questions, which is something that I have seen and heard about with people who build businesses from scratch. Many of them are not used to having their ideas questioned, much less criticized. It is my belief that Perot, for all of his ideas and energy, would have been a lousy President. He would have become frustrated in a matter of weeks when he discovered that no, Mr. President, you cannot just Do That. It needs Congressional or Senate approval. That pesky three co-equal branches of government thingy would have reduced him to grinding frustration quite quickly.
Which brings us to Donald Trump, the man of the expansive promise to Do Stuff. How the hell he thinks he is going to do most of what he says he will do, given the constitutional limitations on the authority of the President, is a mystery to me. This tweet provides the most likely explanation:
@Popehat you have to remember how Trump thinks the presidency works. He thinks it's the CEO of America.
— Jason ̆̈ (@XaiaX) September 21, 2016