Almost all of the actions that Trump has undertaken, however, are consistent with statements and policy positions he issued repeatedly on the campaign trail and during the presidential transition. It was more than a year ago that Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” for instance. (Friday’s executive order stops short of that, but Trump allies such as Rudy Giuliani have spoken of the order as a legal workaround that seeks to accomplish the same objectives as a Muslim immigration ban.) Another executive order called for building a border wall with Mexico, which was perhaps the signature policy position of Trump’s campaign. And Trump might even try to “make Mexico pay for it” by imposing a tariff on Mexican imports — although most economists argue such a tariff would really make American consumers pay for the wall, via higher prices.
Trump and Congress have taken initial steps toward dismantling Obamacare. He promised that too, although he also promised to replace the Affordable Care Act with “something terrific,” which should give pause to Republicans hoping to repeal the plan without a replacement in place. Investigating (highly dubious accounts of) voter fraud? Trump talked about that plenty of times on the campaign trail.
There’s been no “pivot,” and there have been no half-measures. Trump is doing pretty much what he said he’d do. Literally.
Why, then, does Trump’s first week and a half in office seem so surprising, even to those of us who weren’t expecting a kindler, gentler Trump?