We have seen President Obama, augmented by today’s media propagandists, transform the presidency from presiding to cheerleading. He has done that by governing via his amplified, transmitted electronic presence, a Pied Piper rather than a presiding officer. His government was an extension of his campaign. Donald Trump has taken that model and run with it, plus tweets. He is leading the government as its Drum Major, in full uniform with gigantic baton and under Klieg lights. This much direct, personal influence in an elected government with three supposedly coequal branches is frightening some observers, resulting in references to Adolf Hitler. A better reference might be Julius Caesar as power leaked from the Roman Senate.
But ex-President Obama has not finished his alteration of America’s political process. Unlike his predecessors, who have generally faded into relative quiet and left the presidential stage to their successors, Barack Obama appears to be setting up as the Anti-President while the media provides him a spotlight. While this will blunt any Trump aspirations toward a throne, it also is likely to both prevent political unity in the country and dilute Trump’s ability to do his job. The United States seems stuck with either too much chief executive or too little for best results while this sorts out.
It also creates a dilemma for the party out of power, in this case the Democrats. So long as the Ex-president hangs around in the spotlight, it will be difficult for the Democrats to build a stable of promising horses for the next race; all the newcomers are likely to appear small next to the Anti-President. A possible solution: Democratic donors may prevail upon the media to withdraw their lights from the ex-president as his power to service their interests, wanes. But that implies that President Trump will gain, though the media seem not his friends and the very idea of seeing and hearing still more of him than boggles.
We note too that, if the Federal Reserve’s tightening of interest rates and credit bring down the financial structure, President Trump’s influence may not survive that crash. Unless he manages to preside over a fairly rapid turnaround, and become President For Life. We are inhabiting interesting times …