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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Trump Learns That the Presidency Is Hard -- But He Learns Little Else

In Defying the Odds, we note that Trump was unprepared for the presidency.

Inconveniently interrupting the “He’s getting better!” meme, Trump’s interview with Reuters on Thursday is nothing short of terrifying. His cluelessness about the world persists “This is more work than in my previous life,” he says. “I thought it would be easier.” That smacks of “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” — which amounts to admission of complete ignorance of the world’s complexity and insistence that everyone is as blind as he (was).
Oh, but that’s the least of it. Sounding weirdly sympathetic to arguably the world’s worst tyrant, he said of Kim Jong Un: “He’s 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want but that is not easy, especially at that age.” And as if to set everyone’s teeth a bit more on edge he declared, “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.” Gulp. Yes, thanks for the reminder that the potential for nuclear war rests with a man given to impulsive outbursts and angry responses to perceived sleights. (Referring there to Trump not Kim Jong Un.)
Josh Dawsey, Shane Goldmacher, and Alex Isenstadt report at Politico:
“I kind of pooh-poohed the experience stuff when I first got here,” one White House official said of these early months. “But this shit is hard.”
Nowhere has Trump’s learning curve been steeper than Capitol Hill. According to people close to the president, Trump believed that in selecting Priebus as chief of staff he was getting a deeply connected Washington wise man, someone who could guide his agenda through Capitol Hill.
Between Priebus and Vice President Mike Pence, who once served in House leadership, Trump thought he had the experts he needed and wouldn’t have to worry about Congress that much. But Priebus is a political insider, not a congressional one. And Pence, who was governor of Indiana before joining Trump’s ticket, has been absent from the Hill during the rise of the House Freedom Caucus, the ideological hardliners who delivered Trump the most stinging defeat of his young presidency.
House Republicans’ rejection of his plan to repeal-and-replace Obamacare served as a wake-up call — and a clarifying moment when he realized he couldn’t leave Congress to others, even Speaker Paul Ryan.