President Donald Trump told Reuters on Thursday that, as he reaches the 100 day mark of his presidency, he’s been surprised by just how difficult running the country actually is.
“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump said. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”
This is hardly the first time Trump has expressed surprise at the difficulties of being president.
In November, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump seemed “surprised by the scope” of President Obama’s duties during a pre-inauguration walk through of the White House. In February, less than one month into his tenure, Politico reported that he was already surprised and frustrated by the predicable challenges of the job, such as congressional delays and legal intricacies.
And later in February, Trump himself, as what was supposed to be his signature health care bill floundered and ultimately, died, lamented that “nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
Yet despite Trump’s frequent laments about the difficulty of his job, indications point to him spending far less time and effort on it than his predecessors.
Trump, who slammed Obama for golfing during his presidency, has spent 19 days at the golf course since becoming president. That’s a double digit lead over Trump’s three immediate predecessors (and at this point in their presidencies, neither Obama nor Bush had golfed at all).
Trump has also spent half of the weekends he’s been president at his resort at Mar A Lago — sometimes leaving for the weekend as early as Thursday afternoon. Each trip reportedly costs taxpayers over $3 million.
Even when he’s in D.C., reports indicate that Trump has taken a less hands-on approach to the presidency. Unlike previous presidents, who styled themselves as “deciders,” Trump’s aides have reportedly learned to just decide on the best course of action on their own and present that to the president — because presenting too many competing actions doesn’t work for him. Trump continues to watch hours of cable news.
When offered intelligence briefings prior to his inauguration, Trump only attended around one per week, instead of the proffered seven. And even then, intelligence analysts were instructed to pare nuance out of their reports and get them down to one page, if possible. That’s far less information than presidents traditionally receive — and is about a quarter of the information President Obama consumed.
Trump has accomplished relatively little as president. He may have signed the most executive orders since Truman — but some of his signature promises, like his Muslim ban, were sloppily crafted and struck down by the courts as discriminatory and illegal. And as he reaches the 100 day mark, Trump has no major legislative achievements to his name.
Take health care: When House Republicans pulled the first version of Trumpcare, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that Trump had “left everything on the field.”
President Obama and Democratic lawmakers spent over a year stumping for, tinkering with, and shepherding Obamacare through Congress before it became a law.
Meanwhile, Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) pulled their health care bill just weeks after it was first introduced — a defeat all the more humiliating because they had had seven years to come up with a replacement. The day before the bill was pulled, while Ryan was reportedly desperately trying to get members on board, Trump was photographed playing in truck cabs on the White House lawn.