Center for Politics, Batten hosts panel on Trump’s effect on American Presidency

Panel focused on Trump leaks, tweets in White House

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Among the panelists was Marc Short, a fellow at the Miller Center and previous director of legislative affairs for the Trump administration.

Megan O'Rourke | Cavalier Daily

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated in both the headline and lead paragraph that the panel was co-hosted by the Miller Center and the Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy. The event was actually co-hosted by the University's Center for Politics and the Batten School. The Miller Center was not a co-sponsor for this specific event.  

The University's Center for Politics and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy co-hosted a panel Wednesday evening on the effect Donald Trump’s leadership will have on the legacy of the American presidency. The panelists discussed a range of issues from Trump’s frequent use of Twitter to whether he has changed the Republican Party forever.

The panel — hosted by Larry Sabato, professor of politics and director of the Center for Politics — consisted of Brit Hume, a senior political analyst for Fox News Channel, Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and CNN commentator, Symone D. Sanders, a democratic strategist and CNN Political Commentator, and Marc Short, a fellow at the Miller Center and previous Director of Legislative Affairs for the Trump administration. The panel was Short’s first public event since he started his position in August.

Sabato began the panel on the topic of investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s recently published book “Fear,” which paints the White House as chaotic and in constant turmoil, and what the panelists thought about the book given their own sources within the White House. 

Short, a former White House official for two years, did not deny any of the contents of the book, but said he thinks the shock over the administration’s operations would have subsided after 18 months of Trump being in the White House.  

“The American people elected their president knowing he operates in a different style, believing that what’s happening in our country was incredibly dysfunctional,” Short said “No one can sit here and argue that the Trump White House operates in the way that previous White Houses have.” 

Sabato asked Short directly whether he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement while working in the White House, but Short said he did not sign such a document before leaving the administration to work for the Miller Center. 

Short had a controversial entrance into his fellowship with the center after two history professors resigned from their positions as fellows with the center and online petitions gathered more than 4,000 signatures requesting his appointment be revoked. Short’s fellowship is a year long. 

At the end of the event, audience members were allowed to ask the panelists questions. One man directed his question toward Short, asking him what he would say to a 70-year-old that “discussed inappropriately grabbing” one of his daughters. The question was a reference to the infamous Access Hollywood tape released by the Washington Post in October 2016 which shared Trump lewdly referring to grabbing women’s genitals.

Short, who has two young sons and a daughter, responded with how he said he addressed the topic with his children — based on the respect he has for his wife and how his children should treat the “women in their lives.”

At the time of the video’s release, Short said he thought only the president could apologize for his actions.

“It’s only something that he can apologize for which he did,” Short said. “Whether you think it was sufficient or not, he did go on TV and make an apology.”

Sabato then addressed Trump’s usage of Twitter to make statements which he characterized as “short, often misleading or outright inaccurate.” Sabato says the tweets often don’t say anything substantial regarding policy, but rather reflect on the president’s character. 

Hume addressed his issues with the president and his tweeting patterns, saying it’s almost as if the president has two personalities. 

“There’s one who goes downstairs and actually goes to meetings, makes decisions and gets results … and it’s as if he goes to the residence and is a doppelganger,” Hume said. “He gets in the sandbox and publishes these tweets which may thrill his base but a lot of the time, get him into a lot of gratuitous trouble he could easily avoid.”  

Hume went on to say that Trump is “utterly self-absorbed” and “remarkably immature” when it comes to his constant tweeting about issues such as the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign but says so, far it hasn’t proved crippling. 

In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, Hume said the Trump administration is going better than he had expected, but thinks the Mueller investigation will bring some closure to the question of whether Trump participated in Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

“My guess is that [Mueller] will find that’s not the case, but anything could happen,” Hume said. 

Navarro agreed with Hume’s point, saying Trump has tweeted a hundred things that would have crippled any other presidency, but said she noticed a “complete and abject” failure by the Republican Congress to provide a check on the President. 

Hume spoke to Navarro’s claim of party indifference and a central question of the evening — whether or not Trump has changed the Republican party forever.

“You could make a pretty good argument that party has had more effect on him than he’s had on it,” Hume said. “I think that his impact on the Republican Party will last as long as he’s president, and when he’s not president anymore, the politics of the day will dictate what the next leader of the Republican Party makes of it.” 

Sanders disagreed with Hume, stating that Trump’s effects on the presidency will still be present long after he is gone, and that the things he has done cannot be undone overnight. Sanders argued Trump is handling the administration “the way he wants to go about it” with no checks on his decisions as “Congress abdicated their responsibility.” 

Sabato interjected, suggesting that Short speak his mind on Trump’s effect on the Republican party and the presidency. Short said every president has changed the presidency, and that Trump was a direct response to President Barack Obama. 

“The American people sent him there for an intentional reason to disrupt the way Washington works,” Short said. “By its nature, after you disrupt it, you can’t just keep disrupting it. People will want to return to what they thought it a way forward … The next character of the next president will be a response to Donald Trump. I have no doubt about that.”

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