President-elect Donald Trump isn’t an ideologue. He’s a salesman who seeks approval from whoever he’s pitching. How can you tell? Well, to win the presidency, Trump energized a base of voters that felt ignored by Hillary Clinton. His supporters rallied behind the tentpole policies of his pledge to “Make America Great Again,” which included some ancillary promises, like putting Hillary Clinton in jail.
But today, he seemed to change his tune. He met with executives and editorial staff from the New York Times, which was live tweeted by several of the journalists present. But much of what he told the Times today as president-elect sounds dramatically different from what he’s been telling ordinary Americans for the past 18 months. For instance:
Global warming—it’s no longer just a Chinese hoax, folks.
Throughout his campaign, Trump displayed a chronic habit of promoting symbols and statements of bigotry from so-called alt-right Twitter users.
Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 1.7 million votes and counting. Given that the man is all about “winning,” you’d think that wouldn’t much come up. And yet….
In the second presidential debate, Trump shattered democratic decorum when he vowed to prosecute Clinton for “so many lies, so much deception”—something he Tweeted about and riffed on constantly at campaign rallies to chants of “Lock! Her! Up!”. Well, scratch that.
Trump repeatedly said he would tighten libel laws, reining in what the press can report about public figures—a promise usually tied to a rant about the Times’ unfair coverage.
The man’s not famed for self-reflection. Or, for that matter, self-deprecation. And definitely not self-criticism. Here’s a Trump we haven’t really seen:
Of course, Trump wasn’t all surprises; he made it pretty clear that he wasn’t going to cut ties with his business. It’s also probably useful to remember that this is not the first time Trump has bared an eerie layer of self-awareness with Manhattan media types. In a January meeting with the Times editorial board, he admitted:
“You know, if it gets a little boring, if I see people starting to sort of, maybe thinking about leaving, I can sort of tell the audience, I just say, ‘We will build the wall!’ and they go nuts.”