Monday, May 1, 2017

It's been 100 days now...

Related image...since Donald Trump was sworn in as president (102 as of today), and as long as everyone else is giving him a grade I might as well too.

It's true that 100 days is an arbitrary yardstick, but it's also true that candidate Trump talked a lot about how much he would accomplish in that amount of time, so I figure it's a wash. If nothing else, it's fair to ask, "How is President Trump doing so far, and what does his performance say about what we can expect for the rest of his first term?"

And everyone seems to agree that Trump has had at least two clear "successes": the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and the air strike on Syria. (Someone wrote that it's called an "air strike" when we do it but an "attack" if it's done to us.)

To this I would respond that while the Gorsuch nomination was certainly a "W" for Republicans and conservatives, it was really more of a "W" for Mitch McConnell than Trump. After all, it was the Senate majority leader who blocked Merrick Garland's nomination before Trump was even elected and then did away with the filibuster to confirm Gorsuch. As for Trump, he just selected a name from a list he was handed. (And, knowing Trump, he probably just picked the one who most -- literally -- "looked" like a Supreme Court justice.) So wouldn't the same thing have happened if Jeb or Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or any other Republican been elected president?

As for Syria, couldn't anyone have picked up the phone and called the generals and told them to drop some bombs? It's not really an accomplishment; it's a choice. Even Republicans have to concede that Obama knew the phone number for the generals and could have bombed Syria; he just chose not to. So as an aging peacenik who, like Obama, came of age during the Vietnam War, I'll reserve judgement as to whether or not it was a good idea. Maybe it was -- it sure made a lot of people feel better -- but we really don't know yet.

So where does that leave President Trump after 100 days? Well, I would say that his first four priorities would have been health care, tax reform, infrastructure spending and the Wall. And, after 100 days, it's hard to see him getting anywhere on any of those in 2017. (And his first year should be his most productive, right?)

I'm guessing that by next year at this time "repeal and replace" will still be a work in progress (never to see the light of day), infrastructure spending will be nowhere to be found and the Wall will still be a figment of Trump's imagination. (Actually, his supporters' fevered imaginations; I doubt if Trump was ever really serious about it.) While tax reform is supposedly even harder than health care, I'll at least give Republicans credit for lowering the corporate rate. (Seriously, if they can't do that, what can they do?)

All of that leads to more and more questions but I'll have to leave it at that for now.

So while I think the fairest grade to give Trump so far is an "Incomplete," it's also clear to me that he's in way over his head. Incompetence, not creeping authoritarianism, turns out to be the bigger danger here. I'd have to guess that after one term Trump will make Jimmy Carter look like a consequential president. And he hasn't even had a crisis yet. Ask yourself: how well do you think Trump would do if there was another BP oil spill or a Katrina? (And aren't we about due for another mass shooting?) Do you think Trump would act coolly and calmly in a crisis? The question answers itself.

The biggest winner here? George W. Bush. He's no longer looking like the worst president in modern history.

Next: three questions I still have about the Donald (do people still call him that?) to which I don't honestly know the answers.

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