Is President Trump playing the silence card?


We are never short of surprises with Mr. Trump. The careful and somewhat disciplined style of communicating of previous presidents of the lawyer-cum-politician as opposed to the New York real estate style of Donald Trump, has hit the headlines again, but not in the way most of us expected. Just as President Trump was leaving for Europe a little over a week ago, he announced his choice to replace the retiring Supreme Court judge, Anthony Kennedy. His choice is Brett Kavanaugh, a former professor of law at both Yale and Harvard and currently a United States Circuit Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.   The talk show brigade naturally went into top gear with their criticisms. But there were no Tweets or media responses from Donald Trump.  There was a complete silence on the part of Trump; a completely new communication response, which had appeared to the media to be chaotic and controversial.

Mr Kavanaugh was raised in Washington and attended Georgetown Preparatory School (a Jesuit school) and Yale University, where he was a Notes Editor for the Yale Law Journal. Besides building very successful academic and legal careers, he helps out at his local church’s ‘meals for the homeless’ programme. There doesn’t seem much to criticise Mr Kavanaugh for, except that he could be too conventional, and perhaps over cautious and boring. When the media barrage Mr. Trump with questions on his nominee, he refuses to answer any question or to make comments. But how are the Democrats to deal with this silence? It must be maddening for them, especially for those democratic candidates in the socially conservative states which will have elections later in the year.

We now know that Mr Trump obviously knows how to be moderate when he wants to be, so the question is, ‘Is Trump just winding people up, especially the social liberals, when he wants change?’ Did Mr Trump use this same strategy during his European tour when dealing with Nato, Mrs May, and Mr Putin? Was he just winding-up the media in the United Kingdom and elsewhere?

The fifty three year old Mr Kavanaugh, if nominated will, most likely join Messrs. Roberts, Gorsuch, Alito and Thomas on the conservative wing of the Supreme Court, which could influence the decisions of the Supreme Court for decades to come. The lesson for us is, maybe Mr Trump has a cleverer communication strategy than we have given him credit for up to now. Perhaps Mr Obama’s recent speech from Kenya is a sign that he too doesn’t fully understand, like the rest of us, Mr. Trump’s communication style. We have been warned.