Three-quarters of 100 days into your presidency, only 34% approve of your job performance, according to a poll you probably don’t believe. You still have tens of millions of diehard fans, but that fact is the election was not a glowing endorsement of you, or your policies; it was an utter repudiation of your opponent. Beating an unlikeable two-faced crone is a far lower bar than being a successful president, and right now, you’re failing.
Twitter is not your friend. You went through your first hundred tweets in seventeen days, and never looked back. If you must tweet, please do not do so at odd hours. There’s a certain mental imagery that goes with the presidency. People think you have the nuclear codes in one hand and your iPhone in the other – they worry you might confuse the two at three o’clock in the morning.
You are the President, not just another celebrity. You obviously enjoy mixing it up with Megyn Kelly, Ah-nold and whoever else, but when you do this, people wonder who is running the country. If Snoop Dogg makes a video shooting a likeness of you, please either ignore it or quietly make him disappear. Maybe Bill and Hillary could lend you their hit squad now that they’re no longer on retainer.
Nicknames like “Low Energy” Jeb, “Crazy” Bernie, and “Crooked” Hillary were funny on the campaign trail, but the skills that got you elected won’t necessarily help you govern. Mocking liberal Chuck Todd as “sleepy eyes” makes you look childish. You can trash the media all you want, but don’t call them out by name except to their face. It diminishes you and elevates them.
Don’t accept all-or-nothing legislation; break it into pieces. Make yourself an expert in easy to understand policy, or you won’t be an effective salesman. Telling people this or that is going to be great – going to be yuuuge! – is campaign rhetoric, not persuasive governance. Drop what you aren’t sure you can pass. You need sure wins; the rest can wait.
Focus on “deconstructing the administrative state” in the words of your advisor, Steve Bannon. The best way to do that is to eliminate government jobs. Fire people, close departments, demolish whole agencies. Without enforcement personnel, the regulatory stranglehold will relax, boosting economic activity. Damn their civil service protections. You think Obama cared what the law said on illegal aliens?
Stop threatening elected conservatives from deep red states and districts when they don’t go along with moderate to liberal legislation. You won’t defeat them in a primary from their left, and they’re a lock in the general. Besides, they’re your base. Lose them and you won’t get another. Democrats want to kill you. You can’t work with them, and even if you could, would you really want to?
Congress is a mess. Speaker Ryan can’t pass gas, and Mitch McConnell is captive to a two-vote margin vulnerable to a half dozen RINOs, so work with the chairmen of the individual committees. Each of them has waited a long time to get their gavel, and a long time after that to be in a unified Republican majority. Cultivate members of Congress, listen and incorporate their ideas.
Flatter and entertain their wives. You’d be surprised what a congressman or senator will do to keep his wife happy – especially if he’s screwing his scheduler.
Legislation takes time to assemble, refine and gather support. Good policy is good politics, but it requires patience. You’re only a mile and a third through a marathon. Game it out ten moves in advance. Have fifty things going at once; only five will work out. If the economy picks up, you’ll get re-elected; if it doesn’t, you won’t.
And above all, don’t let the bastards get you down.
The author is a former Republican campaign operative. His work has appeared in USA Today, Real Clear Politics, The Federalist, and the Daily Caller. He has also appeared on Dan Caplis show on KNUS710. He currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area. Follow him on Twitter @PHGuthrie