March 13, 2017

ANDREW MALCOLM: Trump is doing what Obama didn’t do.

Trump has been meeting all along with congressional leaders. Now, he’s had, of all people, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina over for lunch. Then, Mr. and Mrs. Marco Rubio and Mr. and Mrs. Ted Cruz came for separate social dinners. Social is what Washington calls meal-time lobbying, and what no one expected last year during the primary campaign when Trump mocked those men.

The other evening the Trump White House had key committee members in for drinks and social bowling. The president will be working that Oval Office phone to Capitol Hill, as he has to many foreign leaders since Jan. 20.

Trump prefers that personal touch, as he did in his real-estate dealing days, the opposite of aloof. Both he and Mike Pence are holding a series of “listening sessions” with leaders from education, small business, big business, community banks and so forth.

Somehow, recent encouraging economic news and the administration’s legislative agenda always come up, starting with Obamacare’s repeal and replacement, then tax reform. And most sessions end with POTUS inviting attendees into the Oval Office for a once-rare, much-coveted photo in that fabled place.

Such focused attention by a president tends to increase support and mute disagreement, while fueling positive word of mouth about him and his plans, almost like an investment in a long-term real estate deal.

Anybody who’s been in business for almost any length of time understands that they don’t know everything — or they don’t stay in business.

That aside, you might be having some difficulty reconciling this report of Trump reaching out and listening to the people’s elected representatives — and even to elected foreign leaders — with all that talk about Trump being a Putin-loving autocrat.