Donald Trump visited the New York Times on Tuesday, and some of the people present say that while they were pleasantly surprised by his apparent policy shifts on issues like prosecuting Hillary Clinton, dealing with climate change, and bringing back waterboarding, it was also a jolt to realize that he doesn't seem to know what he's talking about on some key issues. "It was alarming to confront how thinly thought through many of the president-elect's stances actually are," a Times editorial states, noting that he said he "valued clean air and water, but that he hadn't decided if combating climate change was worth the expense."
The "apparent flexibility, combined with his lack of depth on policy, might be grounds to hope he will steer a wiser course than the one plotted by his campaign," the Times writes, but so far, he has surrounded himself with people who support "extreme positions," and "his flexibility would be their springboard." How some other Times writers felt about the meeting:
- It was a possibly "revelatory experience," writes Ross Douthat. Trump came across as a free-spending, dealmaking "Nixon-Rockefeller Republican," he writes, and if this "posture was a pander to my colleagues' pro-government sensibilities, it was also a plausible one—consistent with Trump's New York background, his past (and in his heart, probably present) social liberalism, and many of his pre-2016 pronouncements." Click for his full column.
- Trump spent the first eight minutes or so of the interview talking about how great his election victory was, which led Frank Bruni to conclude: "Winning the most powerful office in the world did nothing to diminish his epic ache for adoration or outsize need to tell everyone how much he deserves it." Click for his full column.
- Thomas L. Friedman considers the apparent policy shifts a very encouraging sign. "Trump clearly learns by talking to people, not reading. Because so few thought he would win, many of those who gathered around him and had his ear were extreme characters," he writes. But now he is talking to people like Bill Gates and Tim Cook, signaling that he may be "persuadable on some key issues," especially climate change, Friedman writes. Moderate Republicans and Democratic business leaders like Gates "need to dive in now and and try to pull him toward the center." Click for his full column.