Over the arc of his presidency, Trump has shed himself of cabinet secretaries he doesn’t trust and surrounded himself with loyalists. That will continue and escalate. But the big problem is, he doesn’t know where he’s going.
People are afraid of [Mr. Trump] because he’s got a lot of power but they are also wise to the act because they find him ridiculous...Some of them thought they could flatter him, but during the past few months European and Asian leaders have realized that isn’t enough to get substantial concessions and now they are looking for leverage.
Most presidents would outline a plan to deal with Iran after the nuclear deal, or to transform NATO to cope with the threat from authoritarian states, or to resolve the trade war...But Trump is not one for detail or course correction. In his world, there was a problem, so he did something quickly. And now it’s solved. To say anything else is to suggest the unthinkable — that he is not a magician.
[President Trump] has always been obsessed that people are laughing at the president. From the mid-’80s, he’s said: ‘The world is laughing at us. They think we’re fools’...It’s never been true, but he’s said it about every president. It’s the first time I’m aware of that people actually laughed at a president. I think it is going to drive him absolutely crazy. It will play to every insecurity he has...It’s got to hurt...It was on camera and it was spontaneous. It was on one of the biggest stages in the world.