The rap on the Donald, some of it rhymed and some of it not, is not only that he’s nuts but that he hasn’t yet been in the Oval Office for a month and his administration is already in disarray. He can’t keep his Cabinet in line and his senior aides are squabbling in public with each other, and taking shots at his tweets and his unorthodox way of conducting business.
But some president watchers are beginning to think it’s the Donald who’s the sophisticated original, that his detractors are so stuck in the ruts of the old way that they can’t see what’s really going on. He has staffed his Cabinet with capable men and women in whom he has confidence and unlike most presidents, he does not demand that they speak only in talking points written, poll-tested and polished at the White House. “I want them to speak their minds,” he tweeted the other day, “and express their own thoughts, not mine!”
Unorthodox it may be, but he is setting no precedent in presidential strategy. Such freedom of speech for senior officials and aides is not new; presidents, beginning with George Washington, encouraged it before him. Washington surrounded himself with strong-minded, strong-willed men and let them off the leash, beginning with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.