The first 100 days of Donal Trump’s presidency are in the books, so now every media outlet is issuing their report card. Many are giving the president tough marks, but these are ones that have not exactly provided favorable coverage to him in the first place. At the same time, other media outlets have been rather pro-Trump and thus giving President Trump high marks. It can make it a bit confusing to find the truth.
Trump took office as the nation was divided over his election. Many on the left, as well as some Republicans, were upset and worried about his qualifications for office and temperament. They felt that he would do something which would negatively impact the United States and possibly even get us into a conflict with another nation. Some Republicans also were concerned that Trump would surrender America’s role as a voice of moral authority in the world. There was not enough Xanax in the world to prepare them for Inauguration Day.
At the same time, many on the right and Trump supporters, which included a large number of rust belt Democrats, were excited by what they could now accomplish. The GOP held the presidency, and both chambers of congress for the first time since 2006. With this, Republicans could enact long-promised legislation including tax reform, and repealing and replacing Obamacare. The assumption, based on repeated statements by Trump and other Republicans, was that these would be enacted relatively quickly; if not almost immediately.
100 days in and Trump, along with congressional Republicans, have failed to accomplish the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, as well as tax reform. The Obamacare replacement, known as the AHCA, failed miserably in the House in March. The failure itself was an embarrassment to Trump and House Republicans, as not only should they have been able to easily pass it, but the bill itself was garbage.
On top of this, Trump himself was unable to help persuade House Republicans to support the AHCA. As Politico reported, Trump told members of the House Freedom Caucus, “Forget the little shit,” when they raised concerns about important sticking points. It unintentionally signaled that he was focused more on the image of passing a bill than what the bill itself actually did. The Freedom Caucus balked and their opposition to the bill calcified, which killed the legislation.
After the AHCA was withdrawn, the blame game began and President Trump pointed the finger at both the Freedom Caucus and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. It only served to push all sides further away from one another and show dysfunction within the GOP.
Despite enacting no major laws, President Trump did accomplish a major and meaningful achievement. The nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court is Trump’s crowning achievement. Justice Gorsuch, whose qualifications were without question, will likely have a major impact on the country long after Trump is out of office. It is a remarkable feat, especially in his first 100 days, that the president deserves significant credit for.
President Trump has also used the power of the presidency to issue 28 executive orders and counting. It is the most executive orders issued by a president in their first 100 days since Bill Clinton in 1993, who had 24. Two of these orders were his so-called “Muslim ban” (fact check: it did not ban Muslims) that caused outrage and protests across the country. At present, both of these orders were halted by temporary restraining orders issued by the federal courts (fact check: they were not ruled unconstitutional as Democrats have maintained). Both of these orders were rushed and did not undergo enough legal vetting that would have prevented the temporary restraining orders issued. They were not positive moments for the administration.
Other executive orders should be recognized as victories for the Trump administration. In particular, Trump’s cutting of overburdensome and redundant regulations will have a real and positive effect on Americans and American business owners. While opponents spun these as a giant giveaway to faceless greedy corporations, they were actually sorely needed by the small business community. President Trump’s executive orders have helped small businesses focus on being successful and helping the American economy.
On foreign policy, Trump has had both successes and some stumbles. Two weeks into his presidency, the president was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. During the interview, he was asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin and his record of killing opponents and members of the press. Trump responded, “You think our country’s so innocent?” Republicans and Democrats were stunned by his creating a moral equivalence between the United States and Putin. It fostered further worry that Trump would have a foreign policy that had the U.S. retreat from its role in the world.
However, especially in the last month, President Trump has seemingly shifted course and given Americans reason to hope. He made the correct choice in launching a strike against Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people. In that strike, he eliminated 20 percent of the Syrian air force, as well as sent a signal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that war crimes will not be tolerated.
The president has also changed course on North Korea. For over 20 years, the United States has attempted to disarm and thwart the North Korean regime by using sanctions and negotiations. This has been the approach taken by Trump’s predecessors, Presidents Clinton (D), Bush (R) and Obama (D). It has clearly failed, as North Korea has become increasingly belligerent and provocative toward the United States, Japan and South Korea. The sanctions and negotiations of previous administrations have clearly failed.
President Trump and his team have shifted the approach to Kim Jong-Un and his regime. They have engaged China, who hold the most sway over North Korea, to help pressure them and aid in achieving the goal of a disarmed and stabled North Korea. Trump has also signaled that he is willing to use force if necessary, but done so in a diplomatically appropriate manner. Now, Trump has begun the process of engaging the world community on the North Korea situation. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley are working the United Nations to garner support for action.
Both the Syria and North Korea situations are good first moves by Trump. However, they are just that: First moves. The president has not outlined to the American people, as well as the world, what his long-term goals and strategies are for either of these countries. This has caused some confusion at home and among our allies. While President Trump has repeatedly stated that he will not tell people about American military action before it happens, this is not the same. He and his foreign policy team need to have a serious conversation with the American people and outline the what and why of our Syria and North Korea policies.
Trump has faced other obstacles in his presidency, most are of his own making. His management style and Game of Thrones-like palace intrigue have caused the White House to drop the ball several times. Trump has not sought to heal the divide in the country either, as he has failed to speak out on hate crimes and other tensions in the country. It is perplexing, as a simple statement condemning horrible acts would go a long way toward bridging the divide.
He has also stepped on his own message with his Twitter habits, which have contributed to the perception that he has temperament issues. While he should seek to avoid these, the reality is that these unforced errors will continue through his presidency.
Then there are other successes of the Trump administration. Without building the promised border wall, illegal border crossings have dropped 60 percent. This does set up the argument of whether or not the wall is even necessary, but that will not happen until the administration makes moves to begin the process of building the wall. More Americans are optimistic about the economy, which, has been partly caused by Trump’s positive words.
Then there is Trump’s impact on American government. It has certainly caused controlled chaos in Washington itself, where lawmakers and government officials are used to a very different style and tone from the White House. Many of Trump’s voters wanted him to bring said controlled-chaos to D.C. in the first place. Others are concerned, not without reason, that this will result in problems for the future of the government and country. Only time will tell how Trump’s presidency will impact our nation’s capital.
The first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency are ones that have seen great results, failures and unforced errors. They offer a good, albeit limited preview of the future successes and problems of the Trump presidency. In these early days Americans can find reasons for hope, as well as reasons to worry, but it is likely that their own political background will color what they see.
What we can all agree on is that the Trump presidency has felt much longer than 100 days. It is fair to say that it has been exhausting… and only 6.8 percent of Trump’s first term has been completed.