From my political science class in college I recall that newly elected presidents typically enjoy a honeymoon period of up to one year. Most people tend to give the new president the benefit of a doubt; and even if he (or could have and should have been a she) was not their choice, they hope that he will be successful. The first 100 days are especially important because that is when the tone is set and the foundation is laid for getting things done.
So what kind of start has Mr. Trump had?
As outlined below, it has been a rocky start, by many accounts the worst in the history of our republic:
- The Cabinet. Trump’s first move was assembling a cabinet. A couple appear to be solid and competent—Tillerson as Secretary of State, and Mattis as Secretary of Defense. Others like McMaster as National Security Adviser, Kelly in Homeland Security, Chao in Transportation, and Pompeo generally get pretty good marks, but the rest are controversial at best, dismal at worst. There are reports of infighting, conflict, over-sized egos, and lack of direction; and Trump according to some reports has designated “spies” to keep an eye on each cabinet member to report back as to loyalty to Trump. Most troubling is Steve Bannon, the alt-right extremist who is Trump’s chief adviser, who is advocating “deconstruction” of the government. What is not clear is how the cabinet members will work together and whom Trump will listen to. Grade: D.
- Immigration. His second move was immigration. His two orders to ban immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries have been blocked each time by judges and are currently in limbo. Bad idea in the first place and poorly executed. He has loosened the restrictions as to who can be deported by ICE, and more aggressive deportations seem to be getting underway. The undocumented residents we know are terrified. Attendance in public schools in majority immigrant communities is way down as are 911 police calls in those communities . We could be on the cusp of a reign of terror. In my view as scary as his agenda is shaping up to be, this is the most inhumane and cruel because families get ripped apart, dreams are crushed, and loyal, law abiding people are uprooted. If his budget passes with billions allocated for more ICE police and massive prisons for deportees, it will get much, much worse. Grade F.
- Repeal and Replace. The first legislative move was to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump has lent his full support to the Ryan bill, which has turned out to be extremely controversial even among Republicans. The bill will be voted on by the House tomorrow where it is not a shoe in. The CBO shows 26,000,000 fewer people receiving health insurance if it passes, many of them Trump supporters, most of them with modest incomes. If it becomes law, it will also have a profound impact on doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and insurers, most of whom oppose it. The problem that Trump faces is that the 30-plus members of the Freedom Caucus support repeal but adamantly oppose any “replacement,” and the more moderate members fear a backlash if thousands of people in their districts lose their insurance. Even if it passes in the House, it has an even tougher chance in the Senate where all it takes are three Republicans to get cold feet. Bottom line: it is very uncertain how or even if the Republicans will “repeal and replace” Obamacare . And that is actually good news. Grade: F for Trump.
- The budget came out next. This could be called the gotcha budget. All the stuff that Trump said he was going to do to help working people? In the trash can. Besides the health care bait and switch, there is nothing in the budget for poor people or the working class and lots of tax cuts for the rich. Huge cuts to affordable housing, transportation, the environment, food stamps, school lunches, health research, homeless shelters—you name it. Nothing is spared. And for the multi trillion dollar infrastructure initiative? There are big cuts for Amtrak and Metro and no mention of any new initiatives. This budget is so merciless and anti poor that even some Republicans are saying that it has gone too far. Who wrote this thing? Did Trump read any of? Trump, the populist, the guy to sock it to Wall Street and help the little guy? Fortunately this budget stands zero chance of passing. Where it ends up and how much of the slash and burn agenda can be modified is anyone’s guess. Something will ultimately pass that will move back toward the center, but it will still mean hard times for working people. Grade F.
- The Russia Connection. Comey confirmed whatever everyone already knew: the FBI is investigating Russia and also connections between Russia and the Trump campaign. With all the ongoing contacts and known connections with Russia by people like Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, how likely is it that there was no mention EVER of the presidential campaign? Who knows if the FBI will ever be able to nail Trump, but I have got to think that the chances are pretty high that the likes of Manafort, Stone and Flynn and perhaps others are going to be implicated. Is this something really big like Watergate or just another slimy distraction? Time will tell. Grade F.
- The Tweets. He can’t stop. It is some kind of illness and will continue and perhaps ultimately bring him down. The outrageous lies about the Obama wire tap—which he still stands by—why does he say these things? It just keeps on coming—the Muslims dancing in NJ when the World Trade Center came down, the massive voter fraud in California, the record crowds at his inauguration, the Obama birth scam. The entire world—except perhaps for a hard core group of his most ardent supporters—knows that Trump is an incorrigible liar. How do you know what to believe? How can an incorrigible liar be effective in anything –let alone the President of the United States? “Sad.” Grade F.
- The Conflicts of Interest. Still no tax returns. Still seemingly more interested in what Donnie Jr and Eric are doing than in the business of the country. Still spends more time in Mar-a-Lago than the White House at the tax payers expense. Grade F.
- The Push Back. Trump would probably deny it as fake news, but the Resistance is growing. There are demonstrations every day somewhere about something. The Women’s March broke all records. The million post card protest has gotten minimal publicity but surely someone in the White House noticed. The fake press like the NY Times and Washington Post continue to pound away. The late night comedy shows have never been more popular. The pushback is just getting started. If continued—and indeed it must—it can’t help but have an impact. Grade A. Not for Trump, for the Resistance.
Let’s simply say that it has not been a great start. Trump has squandered over half his allotted 100 days and accomplished nothing positive. The White House would appear to be in disarray. Where he is headed is still not totally clear. He could not be having any fun. Where all this leads and what it means to us and to our planet, that is to be determined.