Although Donald Trump ran for president as a Republican, it was clear from the very start of his campaign that he wasn’t your average conservative politician. Not only did he hold more socially liberal views than most Republicans, he also didn’t seem to have a whole lot of appreciation for the separation of powers and limits on the power of the presidency.
The New York Times now reports that those limits actually came as a surprise (or shock) to him:
Mr. Trump’s difficult adjustment to the presidency, people close to him say, is rooted in an unrealistic expectation of its powers, which he had assumed to be more akin to the popular image of imperial command than the sloppy reality of having to coexist with two other branches of government.
Trump thought the president could govern like Democratic clubhouse politicians in New York:
One figure stands out to Mr. Trump: an unnamed party boss — his friends assume he is referring to the legendary Brooklyn fixer Meade Esposito — whom he remembered keeping a baseball bat under his desk to enforce his power. To the adviser who recounted it, the story revealed what Mr. Trump expected being president would be like — ruling by fiat, exacting tribute and cutting back room deals.
However, aides say, he is starting to come to grips with reality, meaning that he slowly understands that it’s more useful to woo Republican leaders to get things done than to whack them with a baseball bat.
The good news is that he’s learning. The bad news is that he went into this job not knowing what it was all about. As a result, chances of Trump fulfilling most of his campaign promises are close to zero.