Does Donald Trump Even Really Want To Be President?
If Donald Trump actually became President, would he really do the work, or just delegate it to others? An anecdote from the campaign trail makes one wonder.
Opening a piece that will appear in the Sunday New York Times Magazine on the process the Trump campaign used to select the Republican Vice-Presidential running mate, Robert Draper relates this odd anecdote:
One day this past May, Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., reached out to a senior adviser to Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who left the presidential race just a few weeks before. As a candidate, Kasich declared in March that Trump was “really not prepared to be president of the United States,” and the following month he took the highly unusual step of coordinatingwith his rival Senator Ted Cruz in an effort to deny Trump the nomination. But according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?
When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.
Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?
“Making America great again” was the casual reply.
As Kevin Drum notes, ordinarily this is something that ought to properly be dismissed as ridiculous and the fact that it is coming from the solidly anti-Trump Kasich camp should cast at least some suspicion that there may be some exaggeration of what was actually said during any negotiations about Kasich possibly becoming Trump’s running mate. At the same time, though, there is something about this kind of response that fits in with the general image that Donald Trump has created, both in the decades leading up to his Presidential campaign and over the course of the past thirteen months. In both cases, there has been a distinct aversion to providing any actual details about how Trump would accomplish anything that he’s actually proposed. He’s going to get Mexico to pay for his anti-immigrant wall, how? No details, he’ll just do it. He’s going to stop American companies from opening factories overseas based on what law exactly? No answer. Whether its immigration, economic policy, foreign policy, or any other issue Trump has been short on details and long on rhetoric and empty slogans. Given that, it’s not hard to see him being a President who delegates authority to others while he travels the country and the world enjoying the trappings of being the most powerful person in the world. Indeed, the entire anecdote is reminiscent of comments Trump made early on his campaign when he would be a ‘cheerleader for America,’ a statement which left the impression that he would travel the country delivering pep talks while others took on the dirty worm of formulating policy.
The problem for Donald Trump, of course, is that the Constitution doesn’t really allow for the kind of relationship between the President and Vice-President that this offer to Kasich envisions. Article II of the Constitution, for example, states that “executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America” and that the President shall be the Commander in Chief of the military and “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” There is no authority for the sharing of these powers with anyone else, including the Vice-President, whose sole Constitutional duties include serving as President of the Senate and being prepared to take over as President in the event of the President’s death or disability. In other words, the President simply cannot delegate his authority to others, whether it be the Vice-President, his staff, or the Cabinet. In the end, final decisions and final responsibility lies in one place, with the person who sits behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. Does Trump believe he can simply get others to do the hard work for him? I don’t know, but perhaps someone should ask him, because the American people are going to be voting to pick a President, not a Delegator-In-Chief who spends his Presidency traveling the country making speeches and pontificating on his Twitter account.