Grandmaster Donald Trumpov
President Trump poses a unique challenge for political analysts and journalists. Few, if any, have been able to predict the actions he will take. Nearly every aspect of his decision-making can seem bewildering, from his unconventional cabinet appointments to his sporadic outbursts on Twitter regarding domestic and foreign policy.
Democrats have developed a canonical interpretation of Trump’s behavior. The theory was detailed in Michael Wolff’s tabloid-style book, Fire and Fury, which was recently read aloud by Hillary Clinton during a skit at the Grammy Awards. Wolff depicts Trump being led around by incoherent passions, reacting to whomever happens to be standing next to him, while frantic Republican operatives scramble to clean up the messes he leaves in his wake. This view of Trump was echoed by Chuck Schumer during the Democrats’ filibuster of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government. He said, “negotiating with this White House is like negotiating with Jell-O.”
Many Republicans share the Democrats’ view of Trump. However, there are friendlier interpretations of Trump’s behavior that exist on the Right. These fall broadly into two categories:
Trump is like a skilled running back. He has a distinct goal in mind, and is running vaguely toward it. As he confronts unforeseen obstacles and opponents, he darts back and forth unpredictably, with twists and turns that expertly dodge his opponents’ tackles.
Trump is like a skilled chess player. He has a strategic goal in mind, and has been masterfully manipulating political events toward that end. His seemingly random moves fit coherently into a tactical plan of action that he has been advancing all along.
On Thursday, January 25th, Donald Trump made what is probably the most bewildering move of his presidency to date. In a policy memo from the White House, Trump proposed what can be described as amnesty for 1.8 million illegal aliens in exchange for border wall funding and minor changes to the legal immigration system. 1.8 million is more than double what Democrats have asked for, so far, during negotiations.