This is what many Trump supporters feared might happen, and what many of Trump’s loudest detractors hoped would happen.
President Trump is settling in to the Washington, D.C. community and many of his anti-establishment campaign advisors have gone away, and been replaced by more mainstream GOP and Democrat operatives. The bulk of President Trump’s current team are veterans of D.C. and have been working as part of the establishment for years. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the President has joined the ranks of the GOP establishment, but it does mean that many of his decisions are falling well inside the acceptable establishment parameters.
The latest such examples of this have all been on the foreign policy front where the President, who once sounded like an “anti-interventionist,” is now responding to world events like an establishment GOP politician. The Washington Post’s David Ignatius recently appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation to make the same connection:
John Dickerson: David, give us a sense more broadly. The president either — and let’s throw in the president’s change of mind on NATO, on Syria. Is the president being guided into what is a kind of foreign policy consensus about the way you handle these difficult problems?
David Ignatius: I think we are learning that he has key advisers on foreign policy who are of the Republican mainstream, and they have had more influence.
I think Secretary Mattis at Defense and Secretary Tillerson at State are really trying to bond. I am told they have tried to work through a common position before each key meeting.
H.R. McMaster is a very orderly, process-oriented national security adviser, Dina Powell in the White House, kind of classic manager of people and bureaucracy.
So, as this team has had some success over the last two weeks — they feel that Syria use a success, they feel that the Xi meeting was a success — I think they have really bonded with each other. So, I think the president feels enhanced by his team going forward.
Just briefly, two other points that go to what we have been discussing. The first is, I think that this administration is exploring ways that you could address China’s concern about a future North Korea, a unified North Korea that might threaten them to say, that is really not what we are thinking about.
The second thing — this has to be speculation, but, as David said, weekend’s big event was going to be this missile launch, and it was — it was a flop. It blew up as soon as it took off.
“The New York Times” reported recently that 88 percent of North Korea’s Musudan, intermediate-range missile tests in the last several years, 88 percent have been failures. Something is going on.
Is this Stuxnet for missiles? We don’t know. It was a very weird, elliptical statement by Secretary of Defense Mattis. But I think those two things are worth bearing in mind.
The pertinent part of the conversation begins around 5 minutes into the video, and Ignatius begins speaking at the 9 minute mark.