The return of the chaos president

The irony is that Trump is right to sense that on both issues (not to mention several others) the center of public opinion overall is moving away from the position that prevails among the Republican rank and file. If he were knowledgeable enough on policy and temperamentally even keeled enough to undertake it, one could imagine Trump attempting to shift the GOP away from some of its less popular stances to affirm other views that could strength its electoral position going forward. If the effort proved successful, that would make him a truly transformative president who helped to bring about an ideological realignment of the American party system.

But of course, Trump is nowhere near knowledgeable enough on policy or temperamentally even keeled enough to pull off something of that magnitude. He’s not even capable of muddling through his own presidency without doing serious damage to his own party by continually injecting it with jolts of high-voltage ideological turmoil. One day he sounds like a press release from the NRA. The next he leaves Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein with a giddy smile on her face, while also attacking the attorney general of the United States, who just so happens to be a former senator well liked by Republicans on Capitol Hill. And the day after that? He badly divides his own party by announcing the imposition of steep global tariffs on steel and aluminum.