On September 8, The New York Times' Peter Baker maintained
Now in the White House, President Trump demonstrated this past week that he still imagines himself a solitary cowboy as he abandoned Republican congressional leaders to forge a short-term fiscal deal with Democrats. Although elected as a Republican last year, Mr. Trump has shown in the nearly eight months in office that he is, in many ways, the first independent to hold the presidency since the advent of the current two-party system around the time of the Civil War.
After appearance of the article entitled "Bound to No Party, Trump Upends 150 Years of Two-Party Rule," the journalist took some heat.
Not nearly enough. A few days after Baker wallowed in foolishness, USA Today Nicole Hemmer pointed out
To the extent that the Trump administration has accomplished anything – and admittedly, the list is short – it is a list of standard-issue Republican policy: rolling back environmental protections, toughening sentencing guidelines for nonviolent offenders, prosecuting a phony war on voter fraud, gutting financial regulations.
The final round in the 2018 health care battle hadn't been written yet, but Hemmer could have noted that Trump is the embodiment of the President whom Grover Norquist cited when 5 1/2 years ago he advocated "a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen" because a GOP House and Senate would take the lead in enacting conservative legislation. The otherwise negative President would sign any bill which Ryan/McConnell would send him limiting access to affordable health care, and was especially enthusiastic about the one which would hit Democratic states hardest.
Trump could not have more accurately encapsulated the GOP ethos than with his September 13 tweet "With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!" With extraordinary human devastation, probably aided by climate change, upon the USA, he could think of little else except tax cuts for the wealthy- and, of course, a plan which would harm Democratic states more than Republican states.
Some independent, some maverick. But refutation of Baker's notion comes even apart from legislation or ideology. On Monday, the President's account retweeted "NFL Player Pat Tillman joined US Army in 2002. He was killed in action 2004. He fought 4 our country/freedom." The tweets were accompanied by a photograph of Tillman in uniform and the hashtags "Stand for Our Anthem" and "Boycott NFL."
In a statement provided to CNN, Tillman's widow Marie wrote
As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify. Pat's service, along with that of every man and woman's service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that. Those that serve fight for the American ideals of freedom, justice and democracy. They and their families know the cost of that fight. I know the very personal costs in a way I feel acutely every day.
The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one's heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn't always agree with those views.
However, Donald Trump is not alone among Republican Presidents in exploiting the memory of Pat Tillman. When the Administration during the 2004 campaign began using and abusing the killing, Pat's father Patrick stated "the Administration clearly was using this case for its own political reasons. This cover-up started within minutes of Pat's death, and it started at high levels. This is not something that (lower-ranking) people in the field do." Pat's mother remarked "They attached themselves to his virtue and then threw him under the bus. They had no regard for him as a person. He'd hate to be used for a lie."
Peter Baker can weave his own, comforting fantasy. Nevertheless, Donald Trump, other than being incomparably corrupt, is not an outlier in his Party. He is a Republican's Republican applauding or proposing extreme right-wing initiatives, virtually all with the goal of pushing wealth upward. It's what Republicans do.