Trump claims he will become the president he wanted to be but others denied him. His claim shows his uncertainty and inexperience. Instead of an answer that reassures us, it provokes more questions. First, if Trump was unable to assert his will as president what does that say about him? Second, if he wants to blame others, why were they able to thwart him? Third, if others could convince him to accept cabinet members and aides he did not want, then how will he resist those who try to persuade him in the future?
Trump will be Trump. He now feels or believes that he can act as he always wanted to act but others denied him this freedom. For that reason, his choices will receive more attention since he cannot claim others who did not share his vision were at fault or contributed to the vision’s failure. If something does not work, who will be responsible? Tradition suggests that the president is responsible for what happens in his administration. However, Trump behaves differently for his approach challenges this traditional view of the presidency.
Trump appears to work by the principle that he asks his staff to perform and when they don’t they are at fault, but when they succeed he deserves the credit. Trump brings the idea of moral hazard to the presidency since he avoids any blame or criticism even as he reaps the public accolades for his staff’s success. By his ability to nullify President Harry Truman’s famous saying “The buck stops here!”, Trump transforms the presidency into something that serves him. Truman served the presidency because he judged himself by what he did for the country not what it did for him or his party. He accepted responsibility and accountability. By contrast, Trump works to avoid responsibility and accountability. Someone else must be to blame.
If Trump wants us to believe that will can act as he always intended, then we will see how he matches his claim to be in charge with the equal if not greater claim someone else is to blame for failure. Although Trump can claim that others fail to deliver his vision, he bears responsibility for them since he chose them and provides the resources for their work. Can Trump flatter the public enough to accept that someone else must be to blame? Who else but Trump will be responsible for Trump? The traditional response would be the people, through the media and political institutions, but as long as Trump flatters them, the media and political institutions cannot make him responsible. He might make them feel better about themselves or accept why he cannot act, but only one question matters: Did Trump make America better? Right now, it seems the answer is no, but if he can blame someone else does it matter? If it doesn’t, then the idea of the common good, the idea of America, no longer exists because “us and them” replaces “We,the people”.