Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Rise of Radical Incompetence

Like America’s president, Brexiteers resent the very idea of governing as complex and based in facts.

A common thread linking “hard” Brexiteers to nationalists across the globe is that they resent the very idea of governing as a complex, modern, fact-based set of activities that requires technical expertise and permanent officials.

Soon after entering the White House as President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon expressed hope that the newly appointed cabinet would achieve the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” In Europe, the European Commission — which has copious governmental capacity, but scant sovereignty — is an obvious target for nationalists such as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary.

The more extreme fringes of British conservatism have now reached the point that American conservatives first arrived at during the Clinton administration: They are seeking to undermine the very possibility of workable government. For hard-liners such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, it is an article of faith that Britain’s Treasury Department, the Bank of England and Downing Street itself are now conspiring to deny Britain its sovereignty.

It is thought that Mr. Davis’s real grudge was with the unelected official, Olly Robbins, who had usurped him in his influence over the Brexit process. The problem was that Mr. Robbins is willing and able to do the laborious and intellectually demanding policy work that Brexit will require, while Mr. Davis is famously not.

.. But another byproduct of the anti-government attitude is a constant wave of exits. Britain leaves the European Union, Mr. Johnson resigns from the cabinet. The Trump White House has been defined by the constant churn of sackings and resignations. With astonishing hypocrisy, wealthy Brexiteers such as Mr. Rees-Mogg, John Redwood, Lord Lawson and Lord Ashcroft have all been discovered either preparing to move their own assets into European Union jurisdictions or advising clients on how to do so. No doubt when Britain does finally leave the European Union in March 2019, they will distance themselves from reality once more, allowing the sense of victimhood and the dream of “sovereignty” to live another day. Meanwhile, someone has to keep governing.

‘Like a pinball machine’: Lawmakers struggle to negotiate with an erratic Trump

Heading into a new week, lawmakers still have no sense of what Trump truly wants on guns and other key agenda items — a pattern that leaders of both parties say has hindered their ability to move forward on knotty issues that could benefit from presidential leadership.

.. After more than a year of the Trump presidency, members of Congress have learned to brace themselves for unpredictable, confusing and often contradictory positions from the commander in chief on issues ranging from health care to immigration to gun rights.

.. With cameras rolling, he pledged to sign any compromise lawmakers could craft, only to reject the outcome days later. Trump’s aides ultimately sent to Congress a lengthy wish list of hard-line immigration ideas Democrats would never support.

.. “I’m sorry to say, I found the president to be totally unreliable when it came to the DACA issue,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat whose efforts to craft an immigration deal with Trump foundered. “It really suggests that his effectiveness is compromised as long as his word is unreliable.”

.. “Conceptually, he still supports raising the age to 21,” Sanders said. “But he also knows there’s not a lot of broad support for that.”

.. Sanders also stressed that Trump does not necessarily support “universal” background checks, despite his use of that word previously. “Universal” can mean different things to different people, she said.

.. White House officials and some Trump boosters argue that there’s a method behind what strikes some as madness: sparking conversation among lawmakers, even if it never ends up giving Congress much direction.

.. Others are less charitable, saying that Trump’s flexibility stems from a lack of deeply rooted convictions on many issues.

.. “He’s going with the television headlines from day to day instead of following a policy strategy,” said one Republican consultant close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a more candid assessment. “When he sees backlash from Republican lawmakers and others, he shifts his position and then tries to shift the topic to something else.”

.. “You can’t rely on Donald Trump. He is an unreliable narrator of his own story,” Wilson said. “He works off his urges and impulses and not any sort of philosophical framework.”

.. “The president’s sort of lack of policy foundation allows him to flow where he thinks where the country is going.”

.. GOP consultant Doug Heye said Trump should be “uniquely situated” to broker deals on issues such as immigration and guns, given his previous career as a New York real estate developer and the trust his staunchest supporters place in him.

His base trusts him in a way they wouldn’t with a President Rubio or a President Walker,” Heye said, referring to two of Trump’s 2016 Republican primary rivals, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

..  On Sunday, senators from both parties implored Trump to take a leading role in pushing for gun-control legislation, arguing that his political cover is vital to passing a bill.