Trump has much more legal authority over who can and cannot come into the country than he does over whether shopkeepers say, “Happy holidays.” That’s why the first question to ask after any given Trump-blurt is What could the president do right away about this by using his executive authority? As annoying as they are in the moment, a president’s comments about the cast of Hamilton being “very rude” to Mike Pence or how such-and-such journalist “should be fired” are neither sticks nor stones.
The presidency, alas, has been accruing tangible administrative power and intangible public mindshare for decades. On foreign policy in particular, we still don’t know how Trump will exercise his authority in response to future crises.
But most of the big stuff can’t get done without lawmakers. Which leads to a second question when evaluating a Trump statement: What relevant legislation might Congress pass?