Paul Begala is an acknowledged Democratic partisan. He once worked for President Bill Clinton. He is no fan of Donald Trump.
Now that we’ve established that, I have to concur with something he has said about the president.
Whereas presidents — particularly those who come to the White House with a primarily outside-the-Beltway experience — usually grow in the office, Donald Trump is shrinking the office to fit his own shortcomings.
Begala mentioned how Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all learned about the office, how they filled the White House with their presence. Trump has reversed that momentum.
I will add that of the examples Begala cited, all of them had prior government experience. Reagan served two terms as governor of California, Bush served a term and a half as governor of Texas, Clinton served multiple terms as Arkansas governor and Obama served in the Illinois state senate before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006.
Trump’s experience is totally unique. He never sought a public before running for president. He ran a large business. Trump answered to no one. He has demonstrated zero curiosity, zero humility, not a lick of introspection. He has said he’s never sought forgiveness. He won’t admit to making a mistake.
As some observers have noted, Trump’s political skill — which he exhibited while campaigning successfully for the presidency — hasn’t transferred to governing. He doesn’t know how to govern.
Donald Trump isn’t growing into the office he won. He is shrinking it to fit his own diminished profile.
Trump is shaking up the Cabinet. His closest advisers are bailing, or are being pushed out. His Health and Human Services secretary had to quit; his first national security adviser was canned; Trump has just fired the secretary of state; the veterans secretary is about to go; the current national security adviser may be canned; Trump has burned through four communications directors.
This all happened in the first 15 months of his presidency.
And the president would have us believe he is doing the best job in the history of the exalted office of the presidency?
Nope. Paul Begala is right. Donald Trump is shrinking the office.