The Donald Trump White House is more than capable of doing conventional things well. Last week’s State of the Union saw a complex policy process synthesized into a well-delivered prime-time address that captured the president’s unique policy agenda and won high praise.
But if conventional management styles alone could make or break a presidency, historians would be praising Jimmy Carter and vilifying Ronald Reagan. And Donald Trump wasn’t elected to just be conventional. In fact, he promised to be a disruptive, often unpredictable, force who would take a two-by-four to the status quo. And on that he has delivered.
Where other presidents have balked at moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, this president understood the value of keeping his word. Where other presidents have shied away from third-rail issues like criminal justice reform, this president parlayed a diverse coalition into a bipartisan victory that eluded President Barack Obama.
Where other presidents may have succumbed to career bureaucrats, this president was the first in generations to cut the number of federal regulations, not just slow their growth. And where other presidents may have buckled under pressure and pulled the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, this president rallied millions to the cause and his eventual confirmation.
On issue after issue, the president has taken an unconventional approach and defied the oddsmakers. And in doing so, he has stunned certain advisers who have become accustomed to Washington politicians who campaign out of one side of their mouths and govern in a manner that defends Washington’s status quo.
No White House functions perfectly, and the current one is no exception. And make no mistake, the president’s unbridled style will never cease to frustrate advisers for years to come.
But viewing this president’s unique approach, which has shocked Washington’s political class, through a conventional lens, belittles an approach that has yielded many achievements we thought were unlikely not long ago.