Seems like it. Since Charlottesville (almost a month!) or maybe the Phoenix rally (two weeks!), Trump has not made any big blunders. No super-embarrassing leaks. No obvious efforts to obstruct justice. Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, says all the right things (well, almost), giving a strong impression that the administration has taken a cooperative attitude toward Mueller’s investigation. The DACA revocation seems to have been rolled out in a professional way, in contrast to the travel ban blunder at the start of the term. Am I wrong to think that Trump’s tweets have mellowed. Fewer personal attacks? Threats against judges? Attacks on the press? Or is it that since Trump has followed through on none of this threats, his words no longer seem ominous, but just background noise? Can only a law professor appreciate the irony that the Trump administration believes, or at least says it believes, that President Obama lacked the power to issue DACA. Is Trump, the supposed dictator, actually trying to weaken the presidency?
Suppose I am right (and I don’t know that I am)—what could explain this turn of events? The answer seems obvious. Trump has experienced the most spectacularly unsuccessful start of a presidency since I don’t know when. He has managed to provoke nearly everyone who might help him or at least not stand in his way—Republican senators, his cabinet officials, the intelligence community, the FBI, the press, the courts—and unsurprisingly has accomplished almost nothing. It seems possible that he has learned something, and that the staff changes in the White House reflect what he has learned. It is predictable that as the amateurs in the White House give way to experienced professionals, the administration will begin to resemble something like a professional organization. Trump has acquiesced in all this; does he deserve credit for doing so?