In December, when Dow Chemical Co. Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris agreed to lead the incoming administration's new American Manufacturing Council, the seasoned executive stood on stage next to then-President-elect Donald Trump and gushed like he'd found a soulmate for his government policy dreams.
"President-elect Trump, I can't tell you, I tingle with pride listening to you."
Things have certainly changed in eight months. The December-to-August romance that the manufacturing community was having with the new president has grown cold.
On Aug. 16, Trump abruptly announced he was disbanding the manufacturing council, also called the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, along with a second CEO advisory group. (The Wall Street Journal reported that the executives decided themselves to disband before Trump's tweet.)
In any case, the groups had been collapsing as multiple executives resigned in the previous three days over Trump's handling of the violence in Charlottesville, Va.
One of the executives involved in the disbanding told Axios.com that the business leaders "knew, going in, that this was the way the guy was. They were just hoping that if he got the right people and decision-making processes in place, he could grow into the job. He proved he has no capability to do that."
I remember watching Liveris's short speech in December (you can see it here with our story) and thinking it was strange to hear an experienced, globally minded CEO "tingle with pride" over a political leader, any political leader.
CEO expectations were too high, especially for a new president who had run a divisive campaign and had very little experience in the complexities of government.
So, what's next for manufacturing executives and the CEO president who many felt would yield major gains for them in tax policy, regulations and other areas?
On some regulatory issues, the administration's appointees may still deliver. But in general, Elaine Kamarck, with the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution in Washington, sees power flowing away from a "dysfunctional president."
CEOs will stay in close touch with Congressional leaders, as the legislative branch takes over more power, she predicts. She says Trump has shown little capacity to govern or grasp policy details, like in the attempted repeal of Obamacare.
In upcoming areas manufacturers are interested in, like tax reform, Kamarck said the president is "unlikely to be in the middle of details," which doesn't bode well for successfully steering complex legislation.
She suggested three things were at play for the business leaders in leaving the councils:
First, moral outrage at the violence in Virginia and the president's inability to cleanly condemn white supremacists. Second, concern over protecting their companies and brands by too close an association with a leader who is "toxic" to many. And third, they "are not afraid of the president."
"For a group of people who pride themselves on performance and who manage down through their companies and up to their boards of directors and analysts on Wall Street, President Trump's inability to manage his White House, let alone the federal government or Congress, has to have cost him their respect," she wrote.
It's clear when you see people marching through a U.S. city and shouting rascist slogans that there are more important things going on here for the United States and the world than the relationship between a president and manufacturers.
But it's still a remarkable moment in U.S. politics to have such a public split between a Republican president and normal big business allies.
Toloken is Plastics News' news editor-international. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Toloken.