Betting on what President Donald Trump will do is like betting on a horse race. You have to study past form, make your best guess based on that form, and hope for a little luck.
I’ve finally figured out what pundits mean when they say that Mr. Trump’s “form” is drawn from his television reality show experience. He plays head games with matters of policy unlike any former president. Past presidents certainly used disinformation to achieve specific foreign policy objectives but I don’t recall any that used it to shape public reaction to major shifts in domestic or foreign policy.
Mr. Trump has instructed officials inside the White House to leak out the word that he is likely to announce today that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Call it disinformation or simply a feint in one direction, I don’t believe that Mr. Trump will completely withdraw from the agreement. The feint toward withdrawal drew the expected furor and anxiety.
Those opposing withdrawal will breathe a sigh of relief if Trump announces that he will not completely withdraw but will modify those commitments within the agreement that impede his efforts to “make America great again.” And that is what Trump will do.
Trump will hope that is sufficient to appease his base as channeled by Steve Bannon. He knows that complete withdrawal, especially in the face of opposition by a laundry list of major energy and other companies, will label him permanently as a climate-change denier. put him perilously close to nut-job territory, and subject him to world-wide ridicule.
Remember, for Trump this is a political decision only. My bet is that he tries to have his cake and eat it, too.
June 1, 2017