Of his eccentricities there can be no doubt. Trump has struggled, to put it mildly, to translate the lessons he learned over 40 years in real estate, in entertainment, and in campaigns into governing the complex and recalcitrant executive bureaucracy, negotiating with Congress, and leading a fractured nation. Always improvisational, blunt, controversial, off the cuff, fast-moving, personal, creative, unconventional, and obsessed with appearance, sometimes comedic, sometimes offensive, Trump is no different from the man who told Oprah Winfrey in 1988 that he “would never want” to rule out a presidential campaign “because I really am tired of seeing what’s happening with this country.”
Thirty years later, he is president. His impulsiveness has gotten him into major trouble three times over the last year. First when, barely a week into office, he signed a rushed and ill-thought-out executive order banning travel from several Muslim-majority nations. The suddenness and shock of his decision, and the images of families separated or stranded in airports, overrode in the public imagination the constitutional argument in the president’s favor. (The prudential argument for and against the ban continues.) Second, Trump waited until May to fire FBI Director James Comey, leading to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election has proven a splitting and long-lasting headache for the president, among others. Finally, Trump flubbed his response last August to the racial and political violence in Charlottesville by saying, in a fiery and somewhat off-the-wall press conference, that there were “fine people on both sides” of a deadly clash between white nationalists and antifa.