In honor of Passover, let us pose a question: Why is this president different from all other presidents? What if, in fact, he is not? After a series of flip-flops over the last week, there’s a spring bloom of takes arguing that President Trump is just like other presidents, real or hypothetical.
Jonathan Chait, for example, writes that “Donald Trump is just George W. Bush but racist.” Chait points out that Trump has dropped many of the trappings of supposed populism he adopted during the campaign:
He has oriented his domestic policy around traditional Republican priorities: deregulation, especially of the financial sector and fossil fuels, and regressive tax cuts. Report after report finds chief executive officers streaming into the White House and essentially dictating policy.
Then there’s foreign policy. As if Trump’s decision to launch missile strikes against Syria were not a dramatic enough shift, Eli Lake reports that H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, was working through plans that could put tens of thousands of American troops in Syria as well. It’s reminiscent of Bush’s hawkish interventionism, Chait writes: “The ideological distance between Trump’s economic and foreign policy and George W. Bush’s has collapsed.”
But wait, how can Trump be Bush if he’s actually the woman he defeated in November? Jack Shafer writes that Trump’s recent reversals in an interview with The Wall Street Journal show that the president has “completed his transformation into a standard chief executive of the United States by espousing many of the hallmark policies one would have associated with President Hillary Clinton.”