Ezra Klein: 100 days of Trump’s flailing presidency

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What we’re learning, day by day, is there’s no magic to Trump. When he does things people hate, he becomes unpopular. When he backs bad legislation and bad processes, the bills fail. When he doesn’t prioritize staffing his government, his government doesn’t get staffed. When he doesn’t choose aides who know how to manage a presidency, his presidency careens forward unmanaged. When he doesn’t spend time learning about the policies he backs, he’s unable to persuade the American people of their benefits. When he doesn’t build deep relationships with the legislators in his party, he proves unable to corral them.

Trump has not found a shortcut for American politics. To succeed at a hard job, he has to work hard in ways and at tasks that he has, thus far, shown little aptitude for or interest in.

Trump himself may never be a normal president, but the system he leads remains more normal than many expected. While it's easy to imagine scenarios where that ceases to be true — a terrorist attack, for instance — the fact remains that so far, incompetence, not autocracy or even ruthless efficacy, has defined the Trump administration. He has achieved much less than his predecessors at this point in their presidencies, and he has done so at great cost to his own popularity. Trump is struggling with the same veto points and limitations that frustrate all presidents, but he is further held back by his own inexperience and undisciplined approach.

It is possible Trump will yet recover. But it is also possible he’ll enter a failure loop, where his unpopularity and his scandals and his failed initiatives and his poor management lead to more public anger and more aggressive congressional investigation and more failed initiatives and more fracturing and infighting among his staff. The 2018 elections are a long way away, but Trump is off to a very bad start.

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