As corporate learning experts often insist, there’s always something more to be learned from a face-to-face meeting. And following his interview with US President Donald Trump, FT editor Lionel Barber gives his impressions of the US leader and his team, and what clues to his personality might help us understand his policy outlook. A twitter addict, Mr Trump nevertheless sees the FT as an important channel to the international business community. He was ‘alert, attentive and far removed from the cartoon character depicted on social media and television,’ reports Mr Barber. The President’s gruff manner and outrageous statements may be opening gambits in negotiations — part of a ‘price discovery’ process. Indeed, there are ‘tentative signs that there is more method in the madness than critics suspect.’
Mr Trump’s White House resembles a medieval court as factions and family vie for influence over an irascible Emperor. As FT’s US Washington columnist Ed Luce notes here, many so-called Third World diplomats say ‘how familiar they find Mr Trump’s Washington. Access to the president’s bloodline is the priority.’
Mr Trump sees himself as a populist in the mould of Andrew Jackson, despite being the first president with no government experience, and aides present him as the fearless outsider who crushed two political dynasties. But it remains to be seen whether personal charisma and a surging stock market will be enough to succeed in the face of a system of checks and balances and conflicts of interests allegations.