If they gave Pulitzer Prizes for pithiness, journalist Salena Zito's analytical couplet on the surprise winner of Campaign 2016 would get one. The press took Republican Donald Trump "literally, but not seriously," she wrote, whereas Trump's supporters took him "seriously, but not literally."
Exactly. Hence it was disappointing, after a post-election week in which he had otherwise epitomized calm statesmanship, to hear that President Barack Obama doesn't get Zito's point.
Of Trump, the president opined: "I don't think he is ideological. I think ultimately he's pragmatic in that way."
In other words, Obama takes the president-elect neither literally nor seriously. Rather, he clings to the notion, or jumps to the conclusion, that Trump has no core policy beliefs, and therefore might be managed, or constrained, by political realities.
This is a normal and, under the circumstances, perhaps inevitable - indeed, possibly correct - assessment. But what if Obama's take is erroneous?