Quick Takes: Trump Is Figuring Out That Being President Is Hard

* It’s hard to imagine a person who was less prepared to be president than Donald Trump. That’s why this didn’t come as much of a surprise.

President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

No statement he’s made over the last 100 days does a better job of capturing the level of ignorance he had about what he was getting into.

As someone who comes from the state that elected Jesse “The Body” Ventura as governor, I have a little experience with this kind of thing. From the beginning, I’ve reminded myself that an ego-driven bully eventually got bored with the life of a politician and moved on after four years. If Trump manages to make it that far, I wouldn’t be surprised if the same thing happened with him.

* The Washington Post and Politico both have stories about how Trump’s executive orders have actually been pretty toothless. Here’s the Washington Post:

In the week ahead of Trump’s 100-day benchmark on Saturday, the White House has rushed to put more than half a dozen executive orders on the president’s desk, with the aim of bringing the total to 32.

Contrary to the administration’s assertions, that number is not a significant milestone for new presidents. What’s more, more than half of the 29 orders issued as of Thursday have merely called for reviews, have commissioned reports or established panels to issue recommendations. The documents lay out a dizzying schedule of 90-, 120- and 180-day increments for federal agencies to evaluate the feasibility of White House policy goals and report to the president.

They hardly represent the immediate action the president and his aides had heralded they would bring to Washington. But Trump has reveled in the symbolic speed and decisiveness they represent, even if his policy aims may not be realized for quite some time.

* Here is a similar assessment from Politico:

…99 days into his presidency, Trump’s high-profile orders have not actually undone Obama’s health reforms, financial regulations, or carbon restrictions. They’ve merely allowed him to announce his intentions to undo those policies in official documents. Trump’s first 30 executive orders will create a lot of federal reviews and reports, along with some new task forces and commissions, but not a lot of substantive change. So far, they’ve been more about messaging than governing, proclaiming his priorities without really advancing his priorities.

* Jonathan Chait writes that “The Specter of Illegitimacy Haunts Trump’s First 100 Days.”

The story of Trump’s 100 days is in many ways a cheerful one for large- and small-d democrats alike. Trump’s authoritarian tendencies amount to little more than a verbal tic. The party’s legislative agenda has proven astonishingly inept. He attacks journalists as enemies of the people and dismisses the legal authority of the courts, but has proven either unwilling or unable to follow through.

Yet while the fears of what Trump might do to the country out of malevolence have subsided, the fears of what he might do to it out of incompetence have grown. Trump became president because America’s political institutions failed. What remains to be seen is whether those institutions can separate Trump’s failure from the country’s.

* In 2001, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira co-authored the book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority.” Since then, their views on the topic have gone in very different directions, somewhat mirroring the differences that are emerging within the Democratic Party since the 2016 primary. If you think it’s helpful to have two thoughtful and intelligence people weigh in with differing views on an important topic, then I recommend that you read the interview Judis conducted with Teixeira about his latest book, “The Optimistic Leftist: Why the 21st Century will be Better Than You Think.”

* I’d also recommend that you read an article by Gail Sheehy titled, “What We’ve Learned 100 Days In: The Trust Deficit Is the Core Problem.” Here’s just a taste of where she starts:

The fundamental bedrock of human development is the formation of a capacity to trust, absorbed by children between birth and 18 months. Donald Trump has boasted of his total lack of trust: “People are too trusting. I’m a very untrusting guy.” (1990) “Hire the best people, and don’t trust them.” (2007) “The world is a vicious and brutal place. Even your friends are out to get you: they want your job, your money, your wife.” (2007)

His biographers have recorded his world view as saturated with a sense of danger and his need to project total toughness. As we know, his father trained him to be a “killer,” the only alternative to being a “loser.” He has never forgotten the primary lesson he learned from his father and at the military school to which he was sent to toughen him up still further. In Trump’s own words: “Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.”…

Today, this man lives alone in the White House, without a wife or any friends in whom to confide, which he would never do anyway because that would require admitting vulnerability…

As President, he is systematically shredding trust in the institutions he now commands. Having discredited the entire 17-agency intelligence community as acting like Nazis, he also dismissed the judiciary because of one judge’s Hispanic background and another’s opposition to his travel ban…Not content to smear the media on a daily basis, Trump borrowed a phrase used by Lenin and Stalin to brand the media as “enemy of the people.”

* Finally, if Trump had even a smidgen of self-awareness, this might be his theme song:

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.