The Administration

Trump’s on the hot seat now — can he handle the heat?

Getty Images

Loyalty oaths. Obfuscation. Deception.

The troubling news accounts emanating from Washington, D.C., have been more reminiscent of an episode of the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” than a functioning executive branch envisioned by our nation’s founders.

The brusque firing of FBI Director James Comey, the maundering stories from administration officials as to why he was removed from the position, and President Trump’s own improvident behavior are the most recent incidences that the current occupant of White House is overmatched by the responsibilities of the office. This dynamic is not only dangerous for the American people but for the global community.

Trump’s ascent to the presidency was not the result of a candidacy predicated on Republican Party values, an extensive political resume or one that appealed to our better angels as citizens. Instead, it was a confluence of two major dynamics: It was a corporate takeover of the Grand Old Party by a septuagenarian businessman combined with the American voters choosing the lesser of two evils. 

The election of Donald Trump was stomached by millions of American voters because they couldn’t convince themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton, who ran one of the worst presidential campaigns in the modern era. Anyone who wants to debate that point only needs to look at a political map from last November, which shows Trump winning 217 counties that went for Barack Obama in 2012. It was votes from those areas that enabled Trump to win in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. 

{mosads}Following Trump’s historic election, many pundits, Beltway insiders and Republican operatives said his victory was an inflection point in American politics and would serve as a harbinger of major change. And while his administration has accomplished some of the goals set forth in his Contract With the American Voter last October, including the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and numerous executive orders, many of his pledges have either stalled or quickly fallen by the wayside. It is true that some of the blame for these failures lies with a dysfunctional Congress, but many of Trump’s failures during his first few months have been self-induced.


Instead of major accomplishments, the American people have received a steady diet of jejune efforts from a White House staff and a commander in chief who is oftentimes his own worst enemy.

Trump hasn’t made the change from campaign mode to governing mode — but should we be surprised? While Trump’s interactions with the political elite of both parties throughout the years have given him insights into their world, he has never has shown an intellectual curiosity about the mechanics of governing or how to lead a party. His interactions with political brokers had been to serve primarily as a human ATM in order to gain favors that he could leverage for future gain. 

That’s why I, and many other voters, had extreme doubts during the campaign about his capacity for change — and his first few months in the Oval Office haven’t done anything to mollify our feelings. As an American, it was my utmost hope that Trump would modify his behavior, grow into the responsibilities of the presidency, and deliver on his promises. However, his antics and inability to lead has not only hurt him personally, it’s hurt the very people he said he wanted to help. 

Trump voters expected change, but they haven’t seen much since Inauguration Day — and chances are they won’t have much to look forward to for the rest of this year. A cursory look at the House and Senate calendars shows less than 40 days until their August recess, and less than 50 work days following their return to Washington. That isn’t much time to change ObamaCare, individual and corporate taxes, and pass an infrastructure bill.

In 1943, while the world was in the throes of a tremendous conflict, Winston Churchill said the price of greatness is responsibility. Donald Trump thundered during his campaign that he wanted to make America great again, but his actions haven’t been very responsible. Donald Trump needs to realize being president isn’t about signing ceremonies or taking Air Force One down to Mar-A-Largo every weekend. It’s about facilitating positive change for our citizens and making the country stronger.

Most importantly, being president is about serving all Americans while simultaneously being an example for the rest of the world. Only time will tell if Donald Trump is up to the challenge.


Todd Johnson a retired Army officer and former policy analysis instructor at the Naval War College. He covers national politics and defense issues and has written for a variety of publications and journals, including Defense News, The Journal of International Security Affairs, and The Royal United Services Institute Journal.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Comey Trump

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video