Every president faces a steep learning curve when he enters the presidency. There is, as John F. Kennedy reportedly said, no school for commanders in chief. Yet even by that standard, recent interviews show a Donald Trump who is genuinely surprised by the size of his duties, the interests he must balance, and the methods required to get that done.
On Sunday, the Associated Press released a transcript of an interview with the president last week. It deserves to be read in full: It captures his constant evasiveness on facts, preferring hyperbole, for example, and his detachment from reality—when asked about a “contract with the American voter” on what he’d achieve in 100 days, Trump dismisses it, saying, “Somebody put out the concept of a hundred-day plan.”
Yet while Trump can be evasive, and he is often deeply misleading, the AP interview and another recent discussion with The Wall Street Journal are fascinating documents for what they show about a president reckoning frankly with how little he understands the government.
“The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency,” Trump told the AP. “This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest—you know, you go down the list …. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility.”