From some angles, the Trump presidency is off to a rocky start. There were the somewhat disappointing crowds at the inauguration, and then the needless lies about them, presented as “alternative facts.” There’s the controversy over Trump’s remarks to the CIA, and precisely who in the crowd cheered his visit. On Monday, the president repeated a dumb and unnecessary lie about illegal ballots having cost him the popular vote during a meeting with members of Congress. The Washington Post reports in detail on White House infighting and an attempted reboot—just four days into the administration. ABC’s The Note frowns, “He can’t help himself, and he isn’t helping himself.”
But what if the Trump presidency is actually off to a surprisingly effective start? For months, Trump has shown a perverse ability to overshadow his own message with chaos and disorder, and the first five days of his administration fit right into that pattern.
Take his nominations. Trump started his presidency with unusually few confirmed appointees. That was in large part the fault of his transition team, which has been slow to nominate and slow to vet candidates for the jobs. Many of the nominees who have come to hearings have had a rough go of it. Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson stumbled through his hearing. So did Secretary of Education-designate Betsy DeVos, who seemed in some cases unversed in federal law on education. Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions seems to have misrepresented his record on desegregation. Tom Price, the nominee for secretary of health and human services, is facing down stories about alleged insider trading. Ben Carson, nominated to head Housing and Urban Development, previously said he wasn’t qualified to run an agency and has no experience in housing.