Evidence is piling up that Donald Trump does not really want to be president of the United States.
He certainly doesn’t look happy in the job. In his previous life, Trump met whomever he wanted to meet and said whatever he wanted to say. But like all presidents, he finds himself ever more isolated, and his displeasure shows on his face. The loneliness of the job — which so many of his predecessors have ruefully reported — is wearing on him.
And it’s more than that. Past presidents also tell us that no one can fully appreciate the dimensions of the job in advance. With no previous political experience, Trump’s learning curve has been even steeper than usual, and the more he sees of the job, the less he wants to do it. He balks at the briefings, the talking points, the follow-through.
He was drawn to the fame of it, as he once told me aboard his private jet. “It’s the ratings … that gives you power,” then-candidate Trump explained. “It’s not the polls. It’s the ratings.” He loves being the most talked-about man on Earth.
But unlike reality TV stars, presidents aren’t famous for being famous. They command the world’s attention because they are the temporary embodiments of America’s strength, aspirations and responsibilities.
It is a paradoxically self-effacing fame. The job demands that hugely competitive, driven, ambitious individuals — for that’s what it takes to win the job — inhabit a role that requires them to be something other than nakedly themselves.
As some Trump associates tell it, he never intended to be elected. But having won the part, he doesn’t want to…
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