“The Navy promptly did absolutely nothing with the directive.”
President Trump is known for making off the cuff remarks that amount to policy directives. When the President tweeted a ban on transgender individuals in the military, he took his military advisers by surprise. He threatened “fire and fury” on the North Koreans without any discussion with his diplomatic or military advisers. In dealing with the President, government agencies have developed a new approach.
Other President’s Who Have Been Ignored
President Trump is not the first President to make outlandish orders that are ignored by aides. Again, a comparison between this administration and the Nixon presidency can be drawn. Richard Nixon had a history of regularly ordering his aides and advisers to do strange and often illegal things.
Nixon once ordered the bombing of the Brookings Institute to create a diversion that would allow him to orchestrate the theft of potentially damaging documents. Thankfully, the aides who received the order had the good sense to ignore it.
Presidential historians explain that as the Watergate scandal grew and impeachment became imminent President Nixon’s top aides and advisers created an “extralegal” policy by which any military strike ordered by the President had to be signed off on by the chief of staff and defense secretary.
They created this policy because they were concerned about his alcohol consumption and also his mental stability.
Current Advisers Ignore The Boss
Trump’s presidency provides an entirely different circumstance from any previous administration. While there are parallels with the Nixon administration, President Trump’s complete and utter disregard for all Presidential norms.
Trump’s advisers have taken to completely ignoring his directives, not out of insubordination, but because there is no way the President could mean what he says. For example, President Trump recently described his plan for the US Navy; he said that aircraft carriers would no longer use high-tech electromagnetic catapults that only “Albert Einstein” could understand, instead they will go back to using steam power.
He told Time magazine, “You’re going to goddamned steam.” The Navy promptly did absolutely nothing with the directive. Weeks later the President went to Virginia to commission the new supercarrier the Gerald Ford. The carrier is equipped with high-tech electromagnetic catapults. All new carriers will be similarly equipped.
Douglas Brinkley is a presidential historian at Rice University; he said, “They ignored it. The United States federal government is now just shrugging at and ignoring some of his statements.” Brinkley continued saying, “His attention span is so short that what he said one hour, he doesn’t even remember the next hour.”