In The New York Times, we have this, under the headline "Rocky First Weekend for Trump Troubles Even His Top Aides":
To the extent that there was a plan to take advantage of the first days of his administration, when a president is usually at his maximum leverage, Mr. Trump threw it aside with a decision to lash out about crowd sizes at his swearing in and to rewrite the history of his dealings with intelligence agencies.Notice the reference to "some of" Trump's top people urging him not to indulge his resentment, while "other aides ... shared his outrage and desire to punch back"? The spinners on this story were obviously from the Reince Priebus wing of the White House. They think the Steve Bannon crowd urged Trump to indulge his worst instincts.
The lack of discipline troubled even senior members of Mr. Trump’s circle, some of whom had urged him not to indulge his simmering resentment at what he saw as unfair news coverage. Instead, Mr. Trump chose to listen to other aides who shared his outrage and desire to punch back. By the end of the weekend, he and his team were scrambling to get back on script.
A Politico story has the headline "Trump Struggles to Shake His Erratic Campaign Habits" -- which is inaccurate, because he's obviously not making the slightest effort to change those habits. But that's a headline problem. The story tells us that backers of Trump's bomb-throwing style think he's still winning:
That Donald Trump chose to spend the first 48 hours of his presidency feuding with the news media over crowd sizes, crowing about his win in front of a wall of killed CIA agents, spreading inaccurate information and firing off tweets didn't shock his supporters or critics.On the other hand:
But it showed two likely hallmarks of the Trump administration, according to interviews with people involved in and close to his government.
First, his team will be very combative, even when the facts are not on their side, trusting that their political base dislikes the news media and will believe them no matter what. Sometimes, they are likely to muddy the water or throw a hand grenade into a political debate just to change the headlines.
"What you're seeing with the press secretary is what the administration is going to do, they are going to challenge the press," said Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Republican on Trump's executive committee. "A lot of people in the Beltway forget that the news media doesn't have much credibility. This is the way he ran his campaign, and it worked."
Several people who are close to Trump were aghast by the briefing. "It's surreal. We finally have the White House, and it's this," one GOP strategist close to Trump's top aides said.In the Politico story we get a lot of advice on the delicate art of making Trump behave:
One person who frequently talks to Trump said aides have to push back privately against his worst impulses in the White House, like the news conference idea, and have to control information that may infuriate him. He gets bored and likes to watch TV, this person said, so it is important to minimize that.And:
This person said that a number of people close to him don't like saying no -- but that it has to be done.
"You can't do it in front of everyone," this person said. "He's never going to admit he's wrong in front of everyone. You have to pull him aside and tell him why he's wrong, and then you can get him to go along with you. These people don't know how to get him to do what they need him to do."
"Most of the people around him are new to him. One of the things they don't understand about him is he likes pushback. They are not giving him the pushback he needs when he's giving advice. He's a strong guy. He's intimidating to a lot of people," said Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend who talks to him often and is the CEO of Newsmax. "If he doesn't have people who can tell him no, this is not going to go very well."I think people in the Reince Priebus wing are engaging in pushback. They stood by as the bomb-thrower wing (Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller) wrote the inaugural speech, but they've persuaded Trump to dole out the executive orders gradually and in an order that pleases the GOP establishment more than the Trump base. I think the Priebus wing isn't pushing back on tone, or is pushing back and is being rebuffed by Trump and the bomb-throwers. Maybe some aides fear challenging Trump, but more likely it's that Trump gets affirmation from his bomb-thrower wing when he indulges his rage.
I don't think this is going to change. I think Trump's mostly going to govern as a Paul Ryan Republican and behave as a Breitbart Republican. Will that work for him? I doubt it. He's going to continue to seem like the spoiled brat of the campaign who wasn't liked even by some of his own voters. And he's not going to deliver for ordinary people. I think this is a formula for sustained unpopularity, except within the Trump base, which won't abandon him for years. (It took more than a term for George W. Bush's base to abandon him.) But we'll see.