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Trump has changed the presidency


CRAWFORD NOTCH, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Standing here — shivering here — in ... America first. He was irrepressible as a real-estate mogul and is irrepressible now. He was no slave to facts then, and is not enslaved to them now. He was immodest then, and ...


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Trump has changed the presidency By David MShribman kpcnews.com | 0 comments CRAWFORD NOTCH, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Standing here — shivering here — in one of America’s changeless corners, where the snow-encrusted peaks stand immobile in the face of irrepressible winds and remorseless temperatures, it is sometimes hard to contemplate the changes beyond this low point along a fierce mountain ridge. But change is the motif of the epoch, and epochal changes are occurring beyond the notches of New HampshireThe Republican presidential candidate carried this county 14 months ago, but that is not particularly remarkable; more than a half-century ago Carroll County voted for SenBarry Goldwater, who didn’t win another county in all of New EnglandBut the Republican whom the voters here sided with was Donald Trump, who carried the area by more than a 2-to-1 margin in a state that delivered its four Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton. So here, in the shadow of the Presidential Range at the end of Trump’s first year in the White House, one question is unavoidable if not unanswerable: Has the presidency changed Trump more than Trump has changed the presidency? Almost every president has been transformed merely by taking the oath of officeThat solemn vow transformed the identities of George Washington, Ulysses Grant, Dwight Eisenhower and the nine other generals who became chief executives; they became civilian commandersIt transformed the regional figures Calvin Coolidge, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton into national leadersIt transformed the obscure politicians Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman into iconic leadersIt transformed generational figures such as Theodore Roosevelt and John FKennedy into timeless symbols. But it may be possible to argue that, after he leaves Washington, the presidency may not have transformed Trump at allCertainly it would be hard to disagree that his first 11 months left the president acting, thinking, deciding and tweeting much the same way he did 11 months before he stood on the West Front of the Capitol, spoke of “American carnage” and vowed to put, and keep, America first. He was irrepressible as a real-estate mogul and is irrepressible nowHe was no slave to facts then, and is not enslaved to them nowHe was immodest then, and — with nuclear weapons, a naval armada, a standing Army and a fleet of war planes — is even less modest nowHe was unconventional then and is unconventional now. Some presidents (William McKinley, Herbert Hoover and George H.WBush) went into the presidency fixed in characterSome (Kennedy, Barack Obama, even Franklin Delano Roosevelt) were works in progressStill others (Truman, Richard MNixon and George WBush) were transformed by the office. But none of them was as resistant to change as TrumpMcKinley, a product of small-town Ohio, took America internationalHoover, shaped by laissez-faire nostrums that made him rich, embraced more aggressive action against the Great Depression than has been acknowledged for two generationsThe elder Bush, steeped at the United Nations and the Central Intelligence Agency in Cold War precepts, adapted to a unipolar world without a Soviet bloc. In “The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office,” published in September, the University of Texas scholar Jeremi Suri argued that Trump’s supporters understood that it “was impossible to lead as president in 2016,” and, as a result, they “elected an anti-leader, Donald Trump, whose main qualification was that he had never served in public office and had no desire to act like a traditional public servant.” He hasn’tHe has warred with his allies and sparred with, rather than romanced, his opponentsHe has eschewed nearly every canon or doctrine of political behaviorIndeed, he actually has discredited conventional politics — a sharp departure from every one of his 44 predecessors, including the great improviser FDR. Lincoln, facing an even more tumultuous first year than Trump, had every reason to forgo conventional politics in a nation literally breaking apart“He saw no shame in the practice of politics, and experienced no priggish discomfort about what it takes to get great things done,” Princeton historian Sean Wilentz wrote“He was never too good for politicsQuite the contrary: For him, politics — ordinary, grimy, unelevating politics — was itself a good, and an instrument for good.” But while the presidency has not changed Trump, it is very likely that Trump has changed the presidency. He has in some ways removed party, and in some ways ideology, too, from the presidencyHe was elected a Republican and — this past weekend’s Camp David summit on legislative priorities is an example — leans toward Republicans for succorBut he is far more intuitive than ideologicalHe has scrambled the political calculus for this decade, and may have changed the notion of conservatism forever. He has made the presidency less formalHe is not the first president to do so; Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Carter all had impulses of informalityThough Kennedy affected informality, he was at home in a dinner jacket, even if his wife pressured him to wear it, and there were times when, as a campaigner, he consorted with a Western Massachusetts tavern keeper and powerbroker known as “Onions” Burke and had dinner at the Ritz in the same day. Ronald Reagan, himself an outsider, still had enormous respect for presidential precedent and comportmentTrump does not, although, in fairness, Obama was photographed in shirtsleeves in the Oval Office and, unforgivably for traditionalists, with his feet on the presidential desk built from the timbers of HMS Resolute. Few presidents — perhaps none besides Jackson, Truman and Nixon — spoke of their rivals with the bitterness and anger of TrumpTruman’s remarks seem almost innocent today, the equivalent of saying “heck” in publicNixon’s insults, some anti-Semitic, were uttered in private and were revealed only because the Supreme Court ordered that his tapes be releasedBut Trump’s are vitriolic, at times cruel and crude. It is too early to know whether the president’s style will become a presidential style, employed to some degree by successorsNor can we say whether it is a reflection of the coarsening of American life or whether it contributes to a further coarsening of our civic cultureSome things a president can affect, even controlThis may be one of themSo much else that any president, or this president, confronts is well beyond his power. Discuss Print Posted in Kpcnews on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 11:00 pm. Updated: 11:45 pm. 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