Donald Trump, “A Different Kind of Presidency”
For about 100-Days, US President Donald Trump has shaken up Washington and been challenged by its institutions.
He has startled world leaders with his unpredictability and tough talk, and won their praise for a surprise strike on Syria.
He has endured the steady drip of investigations and a seemingly endless churn of public personnel drama.
“It’s a different kind of a Presidency,” President Trump said in an Oval Office interview with the AP, an hour long conversation as he approached Saturday’s Key 100-Day Presidential benchmark.
Donald Trump campaigned on a promise of instant disruption.
He acknowledged that change does not come quickly to Washington. He showed signs that he feels the weight of the office, discussing the “heart” required to do the job.
Although he retained his notable bravado and confidence in his upward trajectory, he showed awareness that many of his own lofty expectations for his 1st 100-Days in office have not been met.
“It’s an artificial barrier. It is not very meaningful, somebody put out the concept of a 100-Day plan,” he said.
Modern Presidents, those since FDR, have tried to move swiftly to capitalize upon the potent mix of political capital and public goodwill that usually accompanies their arrival in Washington, DC.
HW Brands, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said President Trump is learning that “the world is the way it is for a whole bunch of complicated reasons. And changing the guy at the top doesn’t change the world.”
President Trump does not concede the point.
But he acknowledged that being Commander-in-Chief brings with it a “human responsibility” that he did not much bother with in business, requiring him to think through the consequences his decisions have on people and not simply the financial implications for his company’s bottom line.
“When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria,” President Trump said of his decision to strike a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack. “I’m saying to myself, ‘You know, this is more than just like 59 missiles. This is death that’s involved because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved.'”
“Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government involves heart, whereas in business most things don’t involve heart,” he said. “In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.”
In the interview, President Trump cited “tremendous success” on an undefined strategy for defeating the Islamic State (IS) group. He talked at length about saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars on the price of F-35 fighter jets. Trump held meetings during the transition and in the White House with the CEO of Lockheed Martin, which produces the F-35, but the cost-savings were already in the works when he took office.
He promised a tax overhaul plan that would give Americans a tax cut bigger than “any tax cut ever.”
It is too soon to say whether the Presidency has changed Donald Trump in substantive ways. But he is flexible and that means he can move positions quickly.
He fires off tweets at odd hours of the morning and night, making Washington “dizzy” with only a few words.
President Trump is keenly aware of how he’s being covered in the media. He says he has surprised even himself with some recent self-discipline: He has stopped watching what he perceives as his negative coverage on CNN and MSNBC, he said.
“I don’t watch things, and I never thought I had that ability,” he said. “I always thought I would watch.”
He praises his national security team in particular and said his political team in the White House does not get the credit it deserves for their work in a high-pressure setting.
“This is a very tough environment,” he said. “Not caused necessarily by me.”
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