Members of the press described Donald Trump’s presidency as “normal” and “much more mainstream” Thursday, citing the reported decline of populist Steve Bannon’s influence inside the White House, and public comments from Trump indicating he’s moving to the center on some policy issues.
“Operation Normal achieved supremacy yesterday — and a new phase of Trump’s presidency begins,” Mike Allen wrote in his morning newsletter Axios AM.
And in Politico Playbook, Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer noted: “Gone is the ardent post-election populism — for now. After weeks of bruising headlines and backlash over some of his administration’s more conservative positions, Trump is embracing policy and people that are much more mainstream.”
Both outlets cited the rise of the relatively centrist wing of the administration led by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as well as comments from Trump indicating he’s turning to the center on issues including currency manipulation, NATO, and the Export Import Bank. Allen also cites his unexpectedly chummy meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, after he spoke of China in harsh terms on the campaign trail.
“Before: China is a currency manipulator and could easily convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions,” Sherman and Palmer wrote in a roundup of policy changes Trump has recently indicated. “Now: China is not a currency manipulator, and its relationship with North Korea is complicated. Before: The Export-Import Bank has to be eliminated. Now: The Export-Import Bank is important.”
Perhaps the strongest indicator Trump is moving toward “normal” are reports Bannon is on the chopping block. The chief strategist was removed from the National Security Council last week in a demotion, and Trump has spoken tepidly of him in recent interviews in remarks described by some White House insiders as a dressing down and a warning shot. Trump is reportedly upset over not-so-behind-the-scenes feuding between Kushner and Bannon, and that the press has portrayed Bannon as the “shadow president” who is pulling Trump’s strings.
“Conservatives should have seen this coming,” Allen wrote in Axios AM. “Trump goes where the applause is loudest. If that means being a full-throated birther, fine! If that means inciting hysterics about Mexicans, game on! If that means hugging NATO or smiling at corporate cronyism, Trump’s your man! It would be a hoot if he came full circle and morphed into Michael Bloomberg.”
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