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.

Donald Trump Shrug

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.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Does Donald Trump Even Really Want To Be President?

    No.

  2. J-Dub says:

    He’s going to hire all the best people! Like that speech writer…

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    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,

    Actually Doug, some one did ask him (a reporter, I forget who) and Trump smiled, winked, and kind of shrugged his shoulders.

  4. Pete S says:

    I think he really wants to be “Mr. President”. Whether he wants to actually be the president is an open question. At this point probably yes, because to not be president would require either quitting or losing. But by about February of 2017 if he has somehow won the election I suspect he will be tired of it.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    Two pieces of evidence supporting this:

    1) It’s been out there all day and no one from the Trump campaign has denied it. Trump issued a non-denial denial (he said he never personally offered the VP position to Kasich, but that was never part of the story anyway), but no one has issued an actual denial. If it didn’t happen, you would have expected them to respond immediately.

    2) More than once in this campaign his spokesmen have alluded to the fact that he would delegate significant responsibilities, and at least once mentioned this in the context of the VP search.

    Republicans. Sheesh.

  6. Raoul says:

    Bush and Cheney did not seem too much of a problem in their work around the constitution. I don’t see any mechanism from preventing a president delegating to his vice president.

  7. Andrew says:

    It’s a lame verson of Zapp Brannigan and Kif Kroker.

  8. Jen says:

    Didn’t Manafort specifically say that the VP would do what Trump “doesn’t want to do”?

    I took that to mean everything, except holding state dinners and flying around on Air Force One.

  9. Mikey says:

    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.

    When has Trump cared–or even known–about the Constitutional duties and responsibilities of the Presidency?

  10. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    Yes, Manafort did indeed say that. And since he’s Trump’s right hand man as well as chief hatchet person, I take him at his word. Trump wants the trappings of the office, not the work.

    Since it”s well-known that Trump flies back to New York each night (wherever he is) to sleep in his own bedroom in the Trump Tower, would he assume he could continue, as president, to fly back to NY each night? On AF1? Would the Trump Tower become the new White House?

  11. Gustopher says:

    America deserves a better looking spokesmodel than Donald Trump.

  12. Pch101 says:

    It’s a popular management tool borrowed from the business world:

    Step 1 – Tell people what they want to hear

    Step 2 – Forget what you said during Step 1

  13. C. Clavin says:

    If he delegates everything then when it all goes to shit it’s someone else’s fault.
    And with his policies…it would definitely go to shit.

  14. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    …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.

    That remains to be seen. On the other hand, it is part of why nations get the governments they deserve.

  15. HankP says:

    He’s not running for Chief Executive, he’s running for Head of State. And that’s really what Republicans want, someone who can make grandiose claims and promises while blaming others for not achieving them.

  16. James Pearce says:

    Of course Donald Trump doesn’t want to be president. He wants to be king. King of New York real estate, king of prime time TV, king of product licensing, and now king of the American right. He’s not only unqualified, he’s ill-suited.

    He’s like a guy who can’t type trying to become a court stenographer.

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    Should we expect any less from Citizen Trump?

    SECRET SERVICE LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION AFTER TRUMP ADVISER SAYS THAT CLINTON SHOULD BE ‘SHOT FOR TREASON’
    “This whole thing disgusts me, Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” Baldasaro concluded.
    http://elections.gatehousemedia.com/secret-service-launches-investigation-trump-adviser-says-clinton-shot-treason/?sitename=dailyrepublicannews?rssfeed=true

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    TP Campaign pathetic response.
    The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, but Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told NH1 News that “we’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.”

  19. PJ says:

    One question.

    Does Trump know that the President can’t fire the Vice President?

    He can’t just tell Pence “You’re fired” and pick a new VP.

  20. Mister Bluster says:

    Jesus Christ…

    I was thinking as long as I have my hands up,” Kinsey continued. “They’re not going to shoot me. This is what I’m thinking, they’re not going to shoot me. Wow, was I wrong.”
    http://reason.com/blog/2016/07/20/north-miami-cops-shoot-behavioral-therap#comment

    (I was thinking I would be a wise ass and write “This cop belongs on Trump’s security detail.” But that seemed marginally inappropriate.)

  21. bill says:

    @J-Dub: registered democrat speech writer…they should duke it out in the ally or something as the whole world revolves on first lady speeches.

    but seriously, after 8 yrs of obama just phoning it in and blaming others for his pitfalls but grabbing anything positive as “his”…..wtf cares anymore? the economy is still on fed reserve mandated life support and obamacare is draining what’s left of the middle class’s chance to tread water.
    our enemies don’t fear us and our allies are left in the breeze, but don’t criticize the half black prez or you’re a racist…..
    i just can’t wait til his lamer ass is gone- i didn’t think he could do any worse but he continues to lower the bar.

  22. Facebones says:

    I’ve thought for a while that he started this all as a publicity stunt, but it got out of hand. I’m sure he thought he’d campaign for a while, grift some donations, and then bow out in January. But, then he started winning and his ego wouldn’t let him quit,

    Ask yourself: if he was trying to throw the election, what would he be doing differently?

  23. Stan says:

    @bill: The stock market is up. Federal spending as a percentage of gdp is down. Most of our troops are out of the mideast. More people have health insurance. What else do you want?

  24. C. Clavin says:

    @Stan:

    What else do you want?

    He wants those things to happen under Republican governance….but they never do.
    And he’s really emotional about it.

  25. DrDaveT says:

    @bill:

    but seriously, after 8 yrs of obama just phoning it in and blaming others for his pitfalls but grabbing anything positive as “his”…..wtf cares anymore? the economy is still on fed reserve mandated life support and obamacare is draining what’s left of the middle class’s chance to tread water. our enemies don’t fear us and our allies are left in the breeze, but don’t criticize the half black prez or you’re a racist…..i just can’t wait til his lamer ass is gone- i didn’t think he could do any worse but he continues to lower the bar.

    …and there you have it, folks. If you have absolutely no idea what is actually happening in the world, or why, then it’s easy to blame whoever you want for the stuff that you imagine is probably wrong. The Martians have destroyed San Antonio, and it’s Gwen Stefani’s fault because she prevented the NRA from stopping them. I heard it on Fox News.

    This is why the GOP champions local control of schools — so that we can keep a critical mass of voters this ignorant.

  26. Jeremy R says:

    In Trump’s latest NYT interview he’s once again casting doubt on the US’s commitment to fulfilling its NATO obligations:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/21/us/politics/donald-trump-issues.html

    He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.

    For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

    He added, “If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.”

  27. MBunge says:

    @Jeremy R:

    And that’s exactly why it’s hard for me to entirely dismiss Trump. He’s asking some very good questions, even if his answers are horribly wrong. NATO was created to contain the Soviet Union. The Soviets are gone, so why does NATO continue on not merely unchanged but expanding? Why are we still paranoid about containing a Russia that’s been descending into basket case-status for 20 years? Why are we still worried about that while we blithely move heaven and earth to install a repressive, malevolent tyranny like China as a cornerstone on the 21st century?

    Mike

  28. J-Dub says:

    @Stan:

    What else do you want?

    I want low unemployment, and marriage equality, and I want Osama bin Laden dead and Al Qaeda dismembered, and normalized relations with Cuba, and I want Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons.

  29. J-Dub says:

    @Jeremy R: Apparently he wants a world-wide protection racket. In his defense, it is profitable.

  30. J-Dub says:

    @MBunge: Why are we still worried about that while we blithely move heaven and earth to install a repressive, malevolent tyranny like China as a cornerstone on the 21st century?

    Because we like cheap stuff, and lots of it. China is stable, secure, technologically advanced, and has cheap labor. Who wants (or can afford) to pay $2000 for a phone that is made in California?

    As far as Russia, they are a basket case with a lot of nuclear weapons, so maybe we should continue NATO just a bit longer…

  31. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    The Soviets are gone, so why does NATO continue on not merely unchanged but expanding?

    Point of technicality…if NATO is unchanged, how can it expand? Does the expansion constitute a change? Not being facetious, really. Just pointing out that as circumstances have changed, so has NATO’s role.

    There may be conversations to be had over changing, or even ending, the alliance. The intervention in the former Yugoslavia was mostly a disaster. Their help in Afghanistan, while appreciated, still did not prevent that from becoming the longest conflict in American history.

    But Trump doesn’t want to renegotiate the treaty. He wants to break it. Not really a smooth move for a guy who aspires to be “leader of the free world.”

  32. humanoid.panda says:

    “When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.”

    Trump, yesterday. This is exactly what Republicans had convinced themselves Obama was saying for 8 years in their fever dreams, and now they are going to vote for a guy who DOES slander America…

  33. humanoid.panda says:

    @MBunge:

    The Soviets are gone, so why does NATO continue on not merely unchanged but expanding? Why are we still paranoid about containing a Russia that’s been descending into basket case-status for 20 years?

    The short answer is that pretty much every other Russian border with a former Soviet state (besides Belarus, formerly a Russian annex that is now looking at its neighbor with some skepticism) had seen either fighting or loose talk about the “right” Russian borders, while the Baltic region had been quiet, stable, and frozen-conflict free.

    The slightly longer answer is that the Russian definition of security is very expansive. If it succesfully absorbs, say, Ukraine, then Poland becomes its “near abroad” and therefore must become part of Russia’s security perimeter, etc.

  34. sam says:

    “There is no authority for the sharing of these powers with anyone else”

    The Lord of the Comeover would not share power.

  35. Mikey says:

    @MBunge: I assure you if any of Trump’s questions seem “very good” it’s a pure coincidence, since he’s yet to demonstrate either the depth of thought or necessary knowledge to formulate a “very good” question intentionally.

    As @James Pearce said, in this instance Trump’s not talking about changing NATO to meet the needs of the post-USSR world, he’s talking about shirking our stated treaty obligations. Trump is echoing the thoughts of his supporters, for whom every treaty to which America is a party is really just other countries taking advantage of us and “screwing” us.

  36. bookdragon says:

    I think Trevor Noah nailed it. Trump doesn’t want to be a US president, he wants to be an African president, complete with with all the trappings, and the ability to run the country for his own personal benefit and make critics ‘disappear’.

  37. MBunge says:

    @humanoid.panda: The slightly longer answer is that the Russian definition of security is very expansive

    And this matters to the United States…why? And is different from China…how?

    Let me be clearer about what I mean. Do you think the United States spends far too much on its military? Well, how do can you argue philosophically, or even logistically, for a significant reduction in the military budget without questioning our role as the first, second and probably third line of defense in Western Europe?

    I fully appreciate that Trump is so worrisome that it’s hard to think about anything else, but I worry that this may be our last chance to address many problems before our refusal to even acknowledge them blows up in our faces.

  38. C. Clavin says:

    Cruz totally humiliated Trump last night. Vote your conscience.
    Trump can’t even manage his own convention, much less the United States of America.

  39. Moosebreath says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Cliffy,

    I thought so at first. However, I think there is something to this analysis from Washington Monthly:

    “In other words, he simply didn’t say anything at that particular point in the speech that would logically inspire a spontaneous stomping protest of outrage. On the other hand, if you had read the speech ahead of time and were planning to boo Cruz off the stage, that was the logical point to do it. It was the point in which he failed to say the magic words. That was knowable with the speech in hand, but not knowable if you were just listening to the speech and had no idea what was coming next or how it would end.

    To me, it’s clear that Trump coordinated the whole thing, told the New York delegation when to protest, timed his entrance for just that time, prepped his running mate and others to have their talking points ready, and “loved” the result, as he said.”

  40. Scott says:

    @Jeremy R:

    In Trump’s latest NYT interview he’s once again casting doubt on the US’s commitment to fulfilling its NATO obligations

    You know that this is the same approach he uses in business: find some way out of fulfilling his contractual obligations.

  41. Scott says:

    @Moosebreath: I thought the whole scene of Trump standing there, chin out, Mussolini-like, with his scowling royal family lined up on either side was quite amazing.

  42. gVOR08 says:

    @Moosebreath: I just read that on Longman’s Booman blog. I didn’t watch any of it last night, but this explanation seems credible. Except that it looks more like Manafort’s fingerprints than Trump’s. Trump doesn’t seem a good enough manager to have put that together in a couple hours.

    You want a conspiracy, contemplate Trump’s remarks on NATO and Manafort’s relationship with Putin.

  43. J-Dub says:

    @bookdragon:

    he wants to be an African president

    Minus the Africans…

  44. Mikey says:

    @MBunge: I don’t think there’s any question Russian expansionism is something with which America must be concerned. Even if Russia were our geopolitical ally, it’s in our interest to keep them from creating a quasi-Warsaw Pact with an array of Kremlin-dominated buffer states and all that entails.

    That having been said, your question–which I read as asking whether NATO and its attendant obligations, and America’s level of military spending, are the best vehicles to realize our interests in Europe–is a good one. But that’s not what Trump is asking, or saying. He’s simply asserting some undefinable authority to avoid fulfilling current treaty obligations because…well, apparently just because.

  45. al-Alameda says:

    As we’ve come to learn, Trump plays well because it’s now hardwired that about 40% of voters now want, in effect, the trains to run on time, and they believe that a ‘can do’ self-proclaimed successful businessman can do it. This 40% base absolutely is neither concerned nor influenced negatively about any misrepresentations or flat out lies that Trump puts out there – all they know is that he’s firm, he’s brash, he ‘tells it like it is’ and says what they feel has to be said.

    Turnout. If Democrats turnout, they win. If Democrats do not turnout then the 30% chance that Trump currently has will become 50%

  46. humanoid.panda says:

    @MBunge:

    And this matters to the United States…why? And is different from China…how?

    It’s not all that different- with the one exception that now that we have normalized relations with Cuba, we don’t have any territorial or regime-changey disputes with our neighbors.

    Let me be clearer about what I mean. Do you think the United States spends far too much on its military? Well, how do can you argue philosophically, or even logistically, for a significant reduction in the military budget without questioning our role as the first, second and probably third line of defense in Western Europe?

    I think the US spends too much on defense,yes. However, being committed to European defense doesn’t require much in way of expenses- the battalion sized force that we have in the Baltics is a tripwire.

  47. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: I’m even less appropriate. My thought for a comment was to reply that the answer to “why did you shoot me” was (ala the fable) “I’m a cop, it’s in my nature.” But I may just be jaded because of the past few months.

  48. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @humanoid.panda: They don’t see it as “slandering America,” they see him “telling the truth about Islamic Obama and the Democrats who want to destroy the country.”

  49. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @bookdragon: Mighty white of you to compare Trump to an African leader. I guess thats cause that what all the Blacks in charge in Africa do…run banana republics. Sheesh…..

  50. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MBunge: And this is the walking contradiction that is becoming the Democratic Party. Trump advocates a position that clearly is something Democrats SHOULD have an interest in based on Historical complaints about the Defense budget….but because Donald Trump said it, its anathema. Its really no different than Republicans and Obama Care. If Obama were talking about re-evaluating alliances and cost benefits…these same sycophants would be in here commenting about all the new roads, bridges, and schools that could be built with the saved money.

    Democrats in this thread are actually touting Stock Market gains which shows just how far they are from Main Street. The Unemployment numbers under all Presidents are a joke–they’ve become political ads now that each administration simply adjust the formula to something that suits them. The current formula masks how many underemployed there are in the country. Democrats used to care about how much money working people had in their pockets. Now all they care about is beating up on the hapless Republican party.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    OT, but Ailes out..

  52. Grewgills says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    That analogy was from Trevor Noah, South African star of the Daily Show.
    I think Trump is more of a dumbed down racist Berlusconi, than a Mugabe, but YMMV.
    @Jim Brown 32:

    Trump advocates a position that clearly is something Democrats SHOULD have an interest in based on Historical complaints about the Defense budget….but because Donald Trump said it, its anathema.

    Nonsense. No major Democrat has advocated abrogating or NATO obligations, nor would any major Democrat do so. Trimming the defense budget could mean reducing our military footprint in Europe and elsewhere, but that is very different than saying we’ll honor our treaty obligations or not based on whim.
    I know you love the both sides do it argument, but keep it rational.

  53. Monala says:

    @Jim Brown 32: bookdragon was citing a segment by Trevor Noah, the Daily Show host, who is black and South African. He was comparing Trump to various African dictators, noting that as an African, he was familiar with some of Trump’s outrageous claims and actions. He cited specific quotes and actions by such individuals as Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe, that are very similar to Trump’s statements and actions. Noah ended his skit by saying, “Oh, I get it now. Trump doesn’t want to be the American president. He wants to be an African president!”

    In a similar vein, someone recently tweeted the image of Trump and Pence on the golden thrones in Trump’s mansion during their 60 Minutes interview, alongside similar images of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein sitting on golden thrones.

  54. James Brown 32 says:

    @Grewgills: An therein lies the problem with the Democratic party today. They’ve become the play it safe party. NATO is a 60-year old alliance that looks good on paper and in concept but, to those family with it,has become somewhat of a boon-doggle. It needs to be cleaned up and re-chartered to reflect now and the next 50 years of threats. What good is NATO against non-state actors? Nothing now…but it needs leadership to drive it to be responsive. Trump is a $hithead–but he’s posing the challenging questions sane leaders should be asking who can be trusted to come to good conclusions.

    The reason the Republican line of small government have taken root is largely because institutions of government are slow and non-responsive to real-time problems. A direct factor in that is the “play it safe leader”. Congress is loaded with them and the last Democratic President that wasn’t one was LBJ. The steady hand leader has a time an place…but its not now. We have a government that essentially is built for the 90s address the world circa 1995.. And now we’re likely to have a President in November who’s ideas are basically remixes of what worked then. It won’t be pretty. But a least Democrats can feel good about winning another national election.

  55. James Brown 32 says:

    @Monala: Ok fair enough…considering there was yet another shooting today of an unarmed black man in Miami…im touchier than usual today.