How different is Donald Trump, really?

A number of articles are pulling out examples of Donald Trump’s similarities with past Presidents, rather than differences.

Here is the Spectator’s James Forsyth:

Imagine if Donald Trump declared that Islam had ‘no place’ in his country, or proposed banning the burqa ‘wherever legally possible’. There wouldn’t be enough space in Trafalgar Square for all the protestors. British ministers would be forced to the Commons to make clear their disagreement with the President of the United States. And there would be millions more signatures on the petition demanding that his state visit invitation be rescinded.The Trump White House, of course, hasn’t said either of these things. They are the on-the-record positions of two heads of governments in the EU. Robert Fico, prime minister of Slovakia, has declared that Islam has no place in his country, while Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, wants the burqa banned wherever possible. It is a striking feature of British politics that we care more about statements by the US President than those of the leaders of the countries with whom we have been in ‘ever closer union’ for 40-odd years.

This is a piece I read on Reaction, by Tim Marshall, which you can also find on his own blog:

Imagine the outrage if an American President slammed his predecessor for being too soft on immigration.

Imagine he said he was signing an Executive Order ‘to reverse years of neglect at the border’.

He goes on to praise the fact that under his leadership ‘We are deporting record numbers of criminals and other deportable aliens ‘and talks about a tide of illegal immigration.

To stem the tide his Executive Order strengthens the laws which prevent Federal contracts from going to businesses that knowingly hire illegal workers, after all, as he says ‘American jobs belong to American workers’ and he is ‘…determined to restore the rule of law to our Nation’s immigration system’.

Well, by now you might already be organizing your protest. You’d be a bit late mind, given that those were the actions of President Bill Clinton in 1996.

And here is Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Times two weeks later:

The president has declared war on the press. He cannot forgive the media for saying the crowd at his inauguration was small. He is even picking fights with a comedy show. His press secretary is a laughing stock. Worse, the president is trying to pick and choose between news outlets, excluding some from briefings. And he is trying to deflect criticism by accusing his predecessor of having tapped his telephone.

These are among the many, many things journalists like to say are “unprecedented” about the administration of President Donald Trump. Yet all the things I have just written could equally well have been written about Richard Nixon’s administration.

In 1969 The Washington Post reported that Nixon’s inaugural crowd was “far smaller and at times less enthusiastic than the 1.2m” that had turned out for Lyndon Johnson in 1965. Nixon scrawled in the margins of his news report the next day: “The press is the enemy.” Sound familiar?

Early in his first 100 days, Nixon also picked a fight with a show that made fun of him, the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. And his press secretary, Ron Ziegler, was despised by Washington journalists. After his first news conference, Nixon sent a memo demanding, “on an urgent basis”, a list of those in the White House press corps who were against him.

Source: What No. 10 has learned about dealing with the Donald, and King Donald picks fights but the real power lies in a house elsewhere

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