Trump’s advisers, or at least some of them, are often in the position of trying to prevent the president from doing what he wants to do, or at least trying to soften it. That was the case when Gary Cohn, then an economic adviser, tried to prevent the imposition of tariffs, or when national-security officials reportedly arm-wrestled him out of a swift departure from Syria during a meeting on Tuesday. These advisers may believe that protectionism and precipitous withdrawal from military deployments are unwise, and they may very well be right, but there should be little surprise that Trump is doing what he said he would.
Trump has shown his persistence, and its limits, in the cases of tax cuts, health care, and judicial appointments, too. As a candidate, Trump promised “tax reform.” Once he was in office, it became clear quickly that true reform, as in 1986, was impossible, but despite the expectations of analysts who said even a tax-cut bill could not be completed by the end of 2017, Trump jammed through a package of tax cuts. (The complications of moving so quickly are only slowly emerging.)