It seems like every day–no, every hour–brings a new headline about something absurd President Trump has done. From his so-called “Muslim ban” executive order to his constant, pejorative attacks on media organizations, much of this presidency seems decidedly abnormal, and when every piece of news is a shock, it’s difficult to quantify macro-scale changes in the administration.
In a new infographic, the New York Times has attempted to answer the question: Is Donald Trump’s presidency really as abnormal as it can sometimes seem? To do so, reporters asked 13 experts from across the ideological spectrum who’ve served in government (or studied it) to rate 28 events that occurred after the first month of Trump’s time in office on two scales: Normal (something a typical president does, like confirming a Supreme Court Justice) to abnormal (like accusing former presidents of wiretapping them), and important (having significant policy implications) to unimportant (something with few long-lasting effects). Then, they averaged where on the map each of the 13 experts placed each activity to determine just how crazy the presidency has been so far.
On the chart, the “abnormal” and “important” box contains Comey confirming the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, Trump waiving conflict-of-interest rules, and many key government jobs remaining empty. As for “abnormal” and “unimportant,” there’s the seven Mar-a-Lago visits (though tell that to the taxpayers who are footing the bill), Ivanka becoming a White House employee, and the aircraft carrier that went the wrong way to Korea–all fairly absurd things.
But Trump has taken some more normal–dare I say, presidential–actions as well. On the “normal” and “important” side of things, he proposed a federal budget, introduced a tax plan, and started unwinding climate change policies with an executive order; however twisted his policies may be, they are, in fact, policies. And as for the “normal” and “unimportant” box, he’s called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt” and made the White House visitor logs private.
When compared to a similar map created by the New York Times during Trump’s first month in office, the new map shows that despite some continuing absurdity, Trump’s actions seems less abnormal than when he took office. Comparing the two graphs side by side reveals that most of the events represented in the first chart are in the “important” and “abnormal,” with very few outliers. Now, while many of Trump’s actions remain ridiculous for a president, they’re much more evenly spread throughout the infographic.
Of course, the experts sometimes had differing opinions about what was unusual and what was not. But as the infographic–and last year’s political circus–demonstrate, the craziest actions, ideas, and people are quickly becoming mainstream. Where Trump’s concerned, abnormal remains the new normal.