On Handling Tillerson, Korea and Tariffs, Trump Remains True to His Style

Anyone who was surprised by the unilateral way President Donald Trump decided to invoke steel tariffs, meet with North Korea's leader or sack his secretary of state hasn't been listening.After all, Trump signaled how he'd operate when he was asked two years ago whom he consults for foreign policy advice. "I'm speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things," Trump said in a March 2016 appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe."I know what I'm doing, and I listen to a lot of people, I talk to a lot of people," he continued. "But my primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff."A persistent myth in American politics is that presidential candidates make many promises they abandon once in office. But like his predecessors, Trump has sought to implement most key campaign vows, from restricting immigration to cutting taxes. He also brought the unilateral style he displayed in running his real estate business and vowed to bring to the presidency."Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it," Trump promised in his 2016 Republican National Convention acceptance speech. The gaps in his knowledge revealed so far in his presidency raise serious doubts about the first part of that sentence, but that hasn't tempered his own faith in his unique capacities.The results have been distinctly mixed. Trump subsequently tempered or reversed sweeping positions he espoused in free-wheeling sessions with members of Congress on immigration and guns, and measures on neither are close to enactment. On both tariffs and North Korea, reality may yet dampen the dramatic announcements Trump made without the restraint or advice of the aides he didn't consult — or doesn't have. And despite saying he and Mike Pompeo have "a very similar thought process," there's no guarantee he'll pay more attention to his new secretary of state than he paid to Rex Tillerson, whose advice he ignored on tariffs, North Korea, climate control and other issues.  Continue reading...

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