There have been several pieces on Trump changing positions on just about everything he supposedly stood for in less than a week. Here’s the summary from one of those pieces (“Is rationality dawning on Trump?” The Washington Post, 4/16/2017):
NATO is “no longer obsolete.” China was a currency manipulator and would be branded as such in the Trump administration; now, never mind. Syria was not an American problem; now its behavior is America’s, and Trump’s, “responsibility,” and Bashar al-Assad is a “butcher.” The Export-Import Bank, once bad, is now good; same, maybe, with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
The writer, Ruth Marcus, is careful to make sure the reader understands she’s aware of how clueless Trump is, but she still gives him too much credit when she elides these casual normalization attempts:
Trump, notwithstanding the vastness of his policy ignorance and his evident distaste for remedying that embarrassment, is learning. He has moved from “I alone can fix it” to “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” Neither statement is true, but the second at least evinces a dawning rationality.
As I said a few days ago, the shift from “I alone can fix it” to “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated” isn’t exactly “learning”—it’s an excuse for failure. What Marcus doesn’t say is that the “Nobody” knew excuse wasn’t the only one that Trump offered; he also blamed the Freedom caucus and Democrats for his failure on health care reform.
Meanwhile, Doyle McManus over at the LA Times has a similar idea (“Trump’s populist revolution is already over—for now,” LA Times, 4/16/2017):
What happened? One answer is that Trump has been mugged by reality. He’s abruptly discovered that being a successful president is more complicated than winning an election.
It was clear during the campaign that Trump was never strongly tethered to most of his positions, which he revised or abandoned depending on the needs of the moment. It has become clear that he had only a tenuous grasp of the complexity of many of the policies he proposed to change.
McManus, like Marcus, assumes that Trump came into office with the intention of actually doing what he said what he would do. (And by “doing what he said he would do,” I mean that you should create a set menu from the variety of options he gave during the campaign, since he often said he would implement diametrically opposed policies on any given issue.) Somehow McManus and Marcus manage to freely admit that Trump never had any solid position on any issue (except for the Muslim ban or the wall, to give two examples from his racist and xenophobic greatest hits, neither of which the authors mention), yet simultaneously act a bit perplexed that Trump could abandon the the pillars of his campaign—and then they find an excuse for him by crediting him with actually coming to understand and appreciate the complexities of being the president. That’s not what this is. This is merely the continued pattern of Trump wanting to take credit for good things and shift blame for bad things while at the same time not having to do very much work. I summed it up this way on Friday:
The first thing is to understand that in Tump’s lizard brain, these aren’t policy reversals at all. With NATO, Trump isn’t admitting that it’s an alliance more important than he originally thought. No, NATO, in his own words, was “Obsolete. Now it’s no longer obsolete,” meaning he hasn’t changed his mind; it’s simply that NATO has miraculously become relevant again. It’s the same with health care reform. It’s not that Trump’s plan was nonexistent, it’s that health care reform is so complicated that nobody could have anticipated the difficulty of drafting a bill. For the rest of us, the circumstances regarding these issues hasn’t changed, but to Trump they have simply because he knows .01% more about it than he did five minutes ago. Therefore, it’s not a policy change.
That’s it. It’s not hard to understand.
Something to keep in mind is that articles like these illustrate why the American right, in its natural habitat of the Republican party, will always and forever exist no matter how batshit insane it gets. Donald J Trump, easily the most unqualified individual to ever enter the office of President of the United States (much less run for it), has fully exposed himself as a know-nothing, bloviating, thoughtless lardball whose vanity knows no bounds, who is incapable of apologizing or admitting the depths of his ignorance, and who has now flipped on virtually every stance he took during his campaign. The very, very thin silver lining of Trump being elected is that we get to see his incompetence play out in real time. Had he lost the election, he and his supporters would be on the sidelines shouting every time Hillary Clinton sneezed, and he would have gone on and on about how great things would be if he were president. We knew that all his bluster was just that—empty talk of wildly impractical ideas that could never work. Now he’s trying to do some of those things, namely his Muslim ban, and discovering that a strongman can’t just will this stuff into existence. Theoretically, we should be able to take his minute-to-minute buffoonery, the complete failure on his part to be the kind of president he bellicosely proclaimed he would be, and shove it in the faces of the idiots who elected him.
But that won’t happen.
That won’t happen because no matter what stupid thing Trump does or says, what lie he espouses next, what outrageous crime he accuses a US official of without any evidence, what campaign promise he fails to fulfill, what stance he does a hypocritical 180 on without a real explanation, we will have political writers who will not come out and freely admit that the Republican party nominated and helped elect a man who might start a war with North Korea because he likes getting retweeted. And no matter all of that, there are his supporters who are either unwilling or unable to see that Trump is the hollowest candidate to run for president in modern history. He’s not real. He’s a television personality. And they look at him and think “alpha male.”
In a normal world, the election of Donald Trump and the repeated stupidness and destructiveness of everything he does would be enough to destroy the Republican party’s credibility forever. But we don’t live in that world,, because a normal world wouldn’t elect Donald Trump in the first place.