"We have to look at their whole debt structure...we're going to have to wipe that out. You can say goodbye to that. I don't know if it's Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that.'' [Said Trump in Puerto Rico] It only took hours for White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney to knock down the whole idea. "We are not going to bail them out," he said. "We are not going to pay off those debts. We are not going to bail out those bond holders." Odds are it's dead. 

This is not normal. Presidents simply don't make policy pronouncements only to have them overridden within their own administration. Especially not from within their own Presidential Branch -- the White House and other Executive Office of the Presidency agencies who work directly for the president. That's where presidential influence is normally the strongest, but Trump has become such a weak president that even his own budget director can treat public presidential words as basically irrelevant.

Now, granted, with Trump it's hard to tell whether this was a real presidential decision which was then rolled by his own staff -- or if he just blabbed away without really meaning to be making policy at all. Of course, that's the problem. When the president just says things because, say, he's echoing some cable news show he just watched, then everyone learns pretty quickly not to care about what he says, and he finds it hard to get taken seriously even when he really means it.


It's just devastating for the president's words to be devalued so badly. And the results are clear: The OMB director rolling him on Puerto Rico debt; the secretary of defense openly breaking with him on the Iran deal; the secretary of state reportedly calling him a moron. And if that's what he gets from the executive branch and even from the presidential branch, just imagine how little sway his words have on Capitol Hill or with foreign leaders.

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