Alternate title: Chaos!
So now we know what the early days of Trump’s presidency are like and one word keeps coming up again and again. Chaos. Like an insane clown in Gotham City, Trump has created chaos, though he did so with slightly more ridiculous hair. And the most obvious example is the executive order that amounts to a Muslim ban.
The Muslim ban is absolutely fascinating. On the one hand, it’s great red meat for his voters. Most polls show republicans in favor of this ban. On the other hand, the rollout was so botched no one is a complete supporter of it. Keeping out Iraqis who risked their lives to translate for our armed services? Create wording that, theoretically, means tourists from Japan have to go through the same screening as refugees from Yemen? And phrasing it in such a way that the courts are guaranteed to at least, at minimum, delay and remove the most controversial aspects. In some cases when I hear multiple media sources use the same wording I suspect some kind of collusion between them. In this case, I can see the word “chaos” spontaneously arise from members of the press. So, seriously, WTF?
I have no idea what’s going through Trump’s mind. Maybe this is all part of some master plan he has. Maybe he’s a puppet of Bannon and Putin. Maybe his whole administration is as incompetent as the biggest of his detractors think. One thing I do know, though, is that this is chaotic, and Trump thrives in an environment of chaos. During his campaign he kept doing things that would have unpredictable results. Calling Clinton a “nasty woman” during a debate? Making impossible promises about other countries paying for our border defense? Sitting out a primary debate entirely? These things could have gone any way whatsoever. Trump almost always managed to find the path that benefitted him. He’s doing the same here. Specifically, he’s eroding faith in our court system.
His tweets since the courts have delayed implementing the executive order have been astonishing to people who believe in the legal force of the constitution. He has stated that, if there is a terrorist attack, we should blame the courts. Given that it’s a strong likeliehood that the ban will be banned, and the near guarantee of some terrorist attack in the next four years, he has set up a situation where people will no longer trust the court. So after that attack, any court decision made he will be able to beat in the court of public opinion. That is going to make judges very wary of ruling against him. He has set up a situation that will, in all likeliehood, increase the power of the presidency.
Being a Trump detractor, I tend to believe the chaos that we are seeing from his administration is unintentional. He was a long shot to win all the way up to the point people voted. It doesn’t seem likely he was as prepared as almost any of his opponents would have been, so chaotic events seem inevitable. But just because it’s chaotic, don’t misjudge Trump’s ability to turn things to his favor.