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The First 100 Days in Trumpland
THE FIRST 100 DAYS IN TRUMPLAND
After the 2016 presidential election, I joked with my son, who has lived overseas for many years, that he might have to trade in his United States passport for a new one, the country of Trumpland. The Donald has not gone that far, yet, but his campaign histrionics have not calmed down in the least since taking office. Two things about Donald Trump immediately jump out. First, it can hardly be surprising that his views on certain issues have shifted significantly from his campaign rhetoric upon taking office. He did not present himself as someone with a set of principles he would stand by, but as the consummate deal-maker, wheeling and dealing to get the best bargain. Second, Trump does not take kindly to anything that might be interpreted negatively toward him, such as his first 100 days in office. When reporters began questioning how successful this first stretch of his presidency has actually been, he dismissed the whole concept as arbitrary, just another attempt by his critics to cut him down to size. In a sense, the Donald is right, the milestone has no real meaning, except as a guidepost to compare a new president against the significant achievements of Franklin Roosevelt's first 100 days in 1933, when 15 major pieces of legislation were passed to combat the Great Depression. How has the Trumpster been doing?
In many regards, Donald Trump has not helped himself. His very loose, to be extremely generous, interpretation of what constitutes fact has the press tripping over themselves to expose any and all inconsistencies, and who can blame them? That his opponents are guilty of the same thing is perhaps an inevitable consequence of the atmosphere Trump has nourished. The bitterness and bruised feelings from a nasty campaign tend to fade overtime, once a new president takes office, but with the Donald, this has not been the case, and is unlikely to happen anytime soon. The manner, in which he conducted his presidential bid, while appealing to many people rightly disgusted with Washington, burned all bridges of decency, and hope of uniting the nation. He did succeed in winning the election, running roughshod over his opponents, while demeaning former President Obama at every opportunity; such a victory comes at an extremely high price. As a result, calls by the new president and his administration to put the election behind the country only ring hollow, if not hypercritical. Trump's tactics went way beyond the normal sleaziness, thus he could not expect his former adversaries to forgive or forget so easily. Mr. Trump should not be surprised if allegations of Russian meddling in the election persist throughout his term.
What of the campaign promises? Every candidate makes them, and for most, many never come to fruition if elected. Here again, the Donald has set a new standard by his own overblown hyperbole- everything is going to be the "biggest" and the "best". He is going to drain the swamp; crush ISIS; repeal and replace Obamacare; bring peace to the Middle East; build the border wall with Mexico; bring jobs back to the U.S.; and on and on... Let's begin with one that was difficult to take seriously from the beginning, his behavior would change once he became president. He would act presidential and rein in the tweet storms, firing off in every direction and at all hours of the day. It has not occurred, and most probably will not. Trump cannot change who he is at this stage, and has shown no inclination that he wants to. At the moment, it is hard to say his policy initiatives have gotten off to a good start as well.
The executive order has become a much employed tool in a president's arsenal, trying to act without a stagnated Congress. Understandable, but they are not laws, and can be overturned by the next president at any time, as witnessed by Trump's orders on immigration. On the flip side, opponents of the Donald's actions have just as fast turned to the courts for redress, bringing the whole process to a grinding halt. The United States desperately needs comprehensive immigration reform, put into place by laws passed by Congress and signed by the president. The purpose of this article is not to suggest what that reform should be, but only to point out that the country is nowhere near a solution, with the president and Congress both holding responsibility for the failure.
Mr. Trump spent close to two years deriding the "train wreck" known as Obamacare, while guaranteeing an immediate repeal and replacement upon taking office. You might think (though, unfortunately, you would be wrong) that the Donald would have had people preparing his health care program well in advance, so it would be ready to present to Congress right after January 20. No such luck. In fairness, the same criticism can rightly be leveled against President Obama. It took Congress over a year to bring forth the Affordable Care Act after Obama took office in 2009. Though it contained some beneficial aspects, this stab at federal government involvement in health care in no way addressed the fundamental flaws in the system- availability for all citizens and cost. Mr. Trump has quickly discovered that leaving a major policy objective in the hands of Congress might just be asking for trouble. Timeliness and efficiency are not currently words associated with our national legislative body. The bluster and bombast of a billionaire businessman president will likely not be enough to change that.
In foreign affairs, the Donald could emphasize the importance of his meetings with foreign leaders, by holding these affairs in Washington. The capital has plenty of places for such gatherings. Entertaining foreign dignitaries at his Florida vacation home can present the appearance of a weekend holiday. Of greater concern, Mr. Trump has not articulated a definite strategy in foreign policy. Where is the fail-safe plan to demolish ISIS? Does not really have one, not a shock. The U.S. did bomb a Syrian airbase after Dictator Assad employed poison gas against his own people, but did that have any long term impact? Assad did the same thing several years ago, and promised to destroy all his chemical weapons. Something he obviously did not do. If President Trump really wants to do something bold and daring in the Middle East, he should bring all our troops home. What are we doing there? The people do not want us there. They have been fighting among themselves long before we showed up, and there are no signs it might end any time soon, whether the U.S. is involved or not. North Korea looks to be a thorn in the Donald's side no matter what. One can only urge caution when two men who like to thump their chests and utter outrageous sentiments square off. The whole world will suffer if things go off the rails on the Korean peninsula.
In 100 years, Trump's antics will still be available through media platforms now in existence, and perhaps on several not yet invented. Their significance, however, might diminish in importance if he has constructive achievements as president for the nation to look back upon. If not, the side show will have been just that, a diversion, that provided a few laughs (in some ways to prevent the country from crying), while not addressing the ills confronting the United States domestically and internationally. With the Donald, it is hard to see the forest from the trees, which may be his preferred method of operation. As concerned citizens, we perhaps can only ask ourselves what founding father, John Adams, postulated over 200 years ago, as the proper role of good government- Are Trump's actions providing the greatest good for the greatest number of people? Time will tell. The Donald might also do well to remember what President Obama and many other presidents found out to their chagrin- the mid-term elections of 2018 will roll around very quickly. If the country is dissatisfied, Mr. Trump and his nominal party, the Republicans, could lose their grip on Congress. Good luck, President Trump.