The media is crediting him with a tax overhaul victory. But he still holds remarkably little clout in Washington.
Donald Trump is a weak president.
He remains a weak president after the passage of versions of tax reform in the House and Senate, despite what some in the media are describing as a presidential “victory.”
Granted, all presidents, including Trump, are powerful in an absolute sense; a person who can launch military strikes is not without clout. And President Trump is often assertive towards his enemies — or his allies — and talks tough about immigration and NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. But these things do not add up to a powerful presidency.
Political scientists generally measure a president’s power according to his ability to influence public policy outcomes compared to past presidents or contemporary actors, like Congress. A strong president sets the legislative agenda, passes policies reflecting his preferences, and secures bureaucratic action on his governing priorities. A weak president has difficulty achieving these things, as competing political actors impede his goals and jockey to assert their own influence.
In his classic 1960 book Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents, Richard Neustadt famously defined presidential power as “the power to persuade.” A president must convince other political actors that their own interests lie in going along with him, or at least not standing in his way, Neustadt suggested.
That definition helps to explain why the impending passage of tax reform is best interpreted as yet more evidence of the president’s weakness, rather than as a sudden demonstration of new stature. Trump appears to have had little influence over the timing or substance of the policies the House and Senate devised; in general, he seems content to simply sign onto whatever agenda congressional Republican leaders Read More Here