For Trump, a Time of Indecision – The New York Times

Mr. Trump’s defenders said he was no different from his predecessors, who also found themselves stalled at times in their presidencies. But some political analysts said Mr. Trump’s situation was different.

“There are a lot of balls in the air here, and it’s not quite clear how he’s going to catch them, or where they’re going to land,” said David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama. “On some things, he has strong opinions, but on many things, he doesn’t. If you don’t have some core organizing principles, other than your own political well-being, it’s easy to get lost.”

Despite wanting to give the impression that he is decisive, said one person close to Mr. Trump, part of his holdup is that the president constantly changes his mind and equivocates. While Mr. Trump often worries about how his decisions will play, he is also anxious about other people making decisions for him. Figuring out where Mr. Trump will end up, the person said, is like trying to figure out what number the roulette ball will land on.

The president has few trusted advisers to assist him. And Mr. Trump has also been left even more isolated without his longtime assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, whom the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, fired last month after she indiscreetly shared details about his family in an off-the-record dinner with a small group of reporters in Bedminster, N.J., according to multiple White House officials.

Ms. Westerhout had been one of the president’s few organizing influences, the officials said. In the weeks since she left, Mr. Trump has gone back and forth on his feelings about Mr. Mulvaney, praising him one day and denouncing him the next, people familiar with the discussions said.

For longtime Republican analysts, Mr. Trump has a single track he should be traveling on, and any distractions that cause him to take his eyes off could be disastrous politically.

“Right now his big challenge is regaining the initiative on the economic narrative,” said David Winston, a Republican pollster who works with the House Republican Conference. “That is still what is concerning the country. That is the core dynamic he’s going to have to deal with leading into this next election.”


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