All presidents, whether they want to or not, create an ideology—if not intentionally, then somewhat haphazardly as they appoint officials and promote policies. Donald Trump, who split from the larger GOP during the campaign on issues from free trade to Russia, is no different, and you could see the form Trumpism is beginning to take in the Senate cabinet confirmation hearings being held this week. These hearings represent the first chance for nominees to voice what they intend to do under their new boss, and the first time they have to respond to criticism directly.
As per usual for Washington, the hearings were laden with cloudy rhetoric, collegial appreciation, and anticlimaxes—but they also offered a preview of executive branch priorities for the next four years. On Tuesday, Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, and retired Marine General John Kelly, Trump’s selection to head the Department of Homeland Security, gave us a glimpse into how closely the incoming administration will handle immigration and border enforcement.