Trump and the Permanent Campaign

If anything, Trump’s Twitter feed has been a good illustration of the fact that the President has not made a transition from campaign to government.  This is hardly a surprise, as it would seem that he understands the former, but not the latter.  Such antics, of course, have been evident in public pronouncements and, it would seem, private ones.

Via CNN: Trump to Dems: ‘Pocahontas is now the face of your party’

Trump used his pejorative campaign nickname for Warren — a reference to her claims of having Native American ancestry — several times during the meeting, which one source described as “equal parts bizarre and completely awkward.”


For Trump, it was a unscheduled — and unsolicited — return to a frequent campaign riff attacking Warren, who at the time served as a top surrogate to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.


it became a campaign trail staple, it was, according to one of the sources, the first time anyone in the room had heard it in full.

“It’s not like we were on the trail with him,” the source said. “And a closed-door meeting with senators at the White House is about the furthest thing from a campaign rally.”

Not anymore.

One could easily note that there is a certain amount of decorum and mutual respect that ought to exit between members of the US government, regardless of party or policy positions.  Forgetting, however, that perhaps overly high-minded approach to the situation, what about basic professionalism?

There is also, of course, the irony to be attached to the fact that Warren was being criticized for allegedly impugning then Senator Sessions, but the President feels free to use the situation to call names like an elementary school bully on the playground out of the earshot of the teachers.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. gVOR08 says:

    Didn’t W and Rove invent the permanent campaign sixteen years ago?

  2. al-Ameda says:

    He’s juvenile, he’s in our faces, his supporters love it, they revel in it.

    There are two ways to go on this: (1) Lay back, do nothing, the “they go low, we go high” approach. It’s mature, you feel good about yourself, but you lose; or (2) Engage the fight, take it to them, “they go low, we go lower.”

    Me? Well, if I was running the Democratic Party, I’d have a separate field operation dedicated to goading Trump into as as many of these middle school level tweets as possible. I’d have proxies (no Senators or Congressman too risky for them) issuing all manner of communications that mock Trump as “little Donnie” or “The Bankruptcy King” or “Mr Grope.” Every so often hold press events with women who have alleged that Trump groped them in attendance. Run adds with Russian speakers (in Moscow or St Petersburg, speaking English who threaten to release Trump’s tax returns.

    I can see no down side.

  3. eric78 says:

    “but the President feels free to use the situation to call names like an elementary school bully on the playground out of the earshot of the teachers.”

    Sadly, in the analogy he isn’t just the school bully he is the school superintendent.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Seriously OT, but WTF is with this rain? If I’m paying California taxes and Marin County rents I don’t want Seattle weather.

  5. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We just had a foot of snow. We’re getting another foot of snow tomorrow. What are you b!tching about? 😀

  6. CSK says:


    Good point about Trump being the school superintendent rather than just the schoolyard bully.

    I’ve done a lot of cringing when he opens his mouth, which basically means I’ve been cringing since June 2015, but the “Pocahontas” remark was…did we ever have a better illustration of how badly this person’s development has been arrested?

    Aft4er the pussygrabbing debacle, when Melania was hauled out of dry dock to rationalize her husband’s infantile crudity, she explained that she has “two little boys” (Barron and her husband) at home.

    Maybe she was trying to tell us more than even she knows.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: Here in Cincinnati it’s in the 60s today and we haven’t received a total of more than about an inch of snow all winter. Are you hinting that something odd may going on with our climate?

  8. CSK says:


    The day before Blizzard Number One hit on Feb. 9, it was 60 degrees and sunny. That’s pretty typical for New England, and has been all my life, so I’d hesitate to make any predictions on that basis.

    Cincinnati? Well, I can’t speak for that.

  9. Grumpy Realist says:

    @CSK: not where I grew up….Ithaca is in Upstate New York but the weather is more like Canada.

    (Grumble microclimates grumble)

    Chicago feels unseasonably mild right now.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Seriously OT, but WTF is with this rain? If I’m paying California taxes and Marin County rents I don’t want Seattle weather.

    Ha! Look at it this way, the Mt. Tam watershed – all those reservoirs – is probably at capacity now, so MMWD can leave you guys alone for at least a year, right?

    Thing is, in Marin County, these kind of rains and subsequent run off are a good reminder of just how unstable many of the hillsides are – San Anselmo, Fairfax, Mill Valley, San Rafael Novato. If you ever buy a home in Marin, Michael, be sure to get a damned good civil engineer to provide a soils report.

  11. Kylopod says:

    While we’re at it, we should take another moment to note that the frequent claim made on the right that Warren advanced her career by falsely claiming Native American ancestry is baseless slander. I see this claim crop up a lot, and it isn’t refuted enough.

  12. Dazedandconfused says:

    “She’s the face of your party now” is an indication of McConnell’s idea. Mitch is a pro.

    I suspected a gambit to further the public image of the D as the party of blacks. This is to help congressional races, not Presidential ones. Presidential races are now clearly dominated by populism so it is unlikely he wanted to prop up Warren for that. He would prefer a Hillary. Congressional races are dominated by party branding though.

  13. mike shupp says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Republicans have triumphed. Democrats and global warming are in retreat. I don’t much like the weather these days in Contra Costa County either, and I blame it all on Donald Trump.

  14. wr says:

    @Grumpy Realist: I’m heading to Ithaca next week for a thing at Cornell. First time there, and I’m hoping the weather treats me well.

  15. @gVOR08:

    Didn’t W and Rove invent the permanent campaign sixteen years ago?

    The notion of a permanent campaign is nothing new, to be sure. But in the past there was the notion of campaigning while governing. This is just permanent campaign mode because the President appears not to understand the governing part.

  16. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I recall one of Trump’s sons–Eric, I believe–being asked what Pence’s role would be in the Trump administration. “He’ll do the things my father doesn’t want to do,” Eric replied. The questioner persisted: “Yes, but what then exactly will Mr. Trump do.”

    “He’ll make America great again,” the son responded.

    I think Trump’s vision of the presidency was exactly that: He’d travel around the country holding rallies (what an ego-boost) while Pence and the others did the actual work.

  17. CSK says:

    According to the New York Post, Trump is still in campaign mode because he really is running for election in 2020, as we speak. He has his staff doing oppo research on possible Democratic contenders. He particularly fears a Mark Cuban candidacy.