Washington: For nearly 100 days, President Donald Trump has rattled Washington and been chastened by its institutions.
He's startled world leaders with his unpredictability and tough talk, but won their praise for a surprise strike on Syria.
He's endured the steady drip of investigations and a seemingly endless churn of public personnel drama. "It's a different kind of a presidency," Trump said in an Oval Office interview with The Associated Press, an hour-long conversation as he approached Saturdayâs key presidential benchmark.
[blurb]Trump, who campaigned on a promise of instant disruption, indirectly acknowledged that change doesn't come quickly to Washington.[/blurb]
He showed signs that he feels the weight of the office, discussing the "heart" required to do the job. Although he retained his signature bravado and a salesman's confidence in his upward trajectory, he displayed an awareness that many of his own lofty expectations for his first 100 days in office have not been met. "It's an artificial barrier. It's not very meaningful," he said.
[blurb]Trump waffled on whether he should be held accountable for the 100-day plan he outlined with great fanfare in his campaign's closing days, suggesting his "Contract with the American Voter" wasn't really his idea to begin with.[/blurb]
"Somebody put out the concept of a 100-day plan," he said. One hundred days are just a fraction of a president's tenure, and no president has quite matched the achievements of Franklin D Roosevelt, who set the standard by which all are now judged.
Still, modern presidents have tried to move swiftly to capitalise upon the potent, and often fleeting, mix of political capital and public goodwill that usually accompanies their arrival in Washington.
Trump has never really had either. A deeply divisive figure, he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton and had one of the narrower Electoral College victories in history. Since taking office on Jan. 20, his approval rating has hovered around 40% in most polls.
[blurb]Trump's early presidency has been dogged by FBI and congressional investigations into whether his campaign coordinated with Russians to tilt the race in his favour. It's a persistent distraction that Trump would not discuss on the record.[/blurb]
Furthermore, his three months-plus in office have amounted to a swift education in a world wholly unfamiliar to a 70-year-old who spent his career in real estate and reality television.
For his example, his two disputed travel ban executive orders are languishing, blocked by federal judges. On Capitol Hill, majority Republicans muscled through Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, but had to blow up long-standing Senate rules to do so.
Then there was the legislative debacle when Trump's own party couldn't come together to fulfill its long-sought promise of repealing President Barack Obama's health care law. He promised a tax overhaul plan that would give Americans a tax cut bigger than "any tax cut ever."
A man accustomed to wealth and its trappings, Trump has embraced life in the Executive Mansion, often regaling guests with trivia about the historic decor. With the push of a red button placed on the Resolute Desk that presidents have used for decades, a White House butler soon arrived with a Coke for the president.
[blurb]It's too soon to say whether the presidency has changed Trump in substantive ways. He's backpedaled on an array of issues in recent weeks, including his critiques of NATO and his threats to label China a currency manipulator. But his self-proclaimed flexibility means he could move back to where he started just as quickly.[/blurb]
Stylistically, Trump remains much the same as during the campaign. He fires off tweets at odd hours of the morning and night, sending Washington into a stir with just a few words. Trump still litigates the presidential campaign, mentioning multiple times during the interview how difficult it is for a Republican presidential nominee to win the Electoral College.