Mr. Trump’s less restrained approach energized CPAC attendees who had once viewed the developer-turned-reality-star as a self-promotional celebrity curiosity — they serenaded him with chants of “Trump” and “U.S.A.” And his message is resonating with Republican voters, over 80 percent of whom approve of his job performance, despite historically low levels of support among all voters.
But Mr. Trump is intensifying his assault on his enemies on the eve of his first national address before a joint session of Congress, a time when most new presidents are moving in the opposite direction, pivoting from martial campaign rhetoric to the more positive, inclusive language of governance needed to build the coalition necessary to pass major legislation.
On an operational level, Mr. Trump’s inexperienced but confident White House staff members — dominated by Mr. Bannon — are leaning on Hill Republicans to draft tax overhaul measures and a replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, they have focused on enacting a series of quick-splash executive orders, an approach often adopted by presidents at the end of their terms when their legislative leverage has been exhausted.
As they did during the campaign, Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon believe they are tapping into an American public less interested in the standard optimistic tropes of presidential politics and more interested in someone who speaks truth to their…