Donald Trump campaigned for president with a handful of big, simple ideas, including building a wall, renegotiating trade deals, and strengthening the military. His new White House website reflects that same sparse, policy-light philosophy. If you click on the “issues” tab, he has sections on just six issues:
It’s a striking contrast to Donald Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Like Trump, Obama had a website ready to go on his first day in office. But Obama’s site covered almost two dozen policy issues and dove into detail. Here’s what the “agenda” section of Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov looked like on January 20, 2009:
Obama had so many items on his agenda that he dumped some of them into an “additional issues” section that had short blurbs on seven other topics.
This comparison actually understates the difference. Most of the 23 issue pages on Obama’s White House site were lengthy documents with numerous bullet points listing specific policy proposals. The average Obama issue page ran over 1,000 words.
Trump’s six issues pages, in contrast, average just 374 words each and few provide more than the broadest outlines of Trump’s goals.
In total, Trump’s six issue pages have 2,243 words. Obama’s 23 pages had 25,150.
These strikingly different websites reflect the two presidents’ divergent approaches to policy more generally. Donald Trump has never been much of a reader. “I like bullets or I like as little as possible. I don't need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page,” Trump said recently. Obama, in contrast, was a policy wonk who liked to get into the weeds.
It’s possible that Trump’s focus on the big picture will work out well for him. But Trump has never managed an institution as large and complex as the federal government. He’s going to have to make decisions about a lot of issues that — at least judging from his website — he and his senior staff have not yet given much thought to.