Heading into the final 24 hours of President Trump’s first 100 days, he has kept 11 of his campaign promises and has 23 more in progress.
I wanted to start with a very positive lead. The rest of the story is that Candidate Trump, according to “Trump Tracker” (which can be found at: https://trumptracker.github.io/about/), made 175 promises. As of today, he has not started on 119 of them, broken 19, compromised on 15 and, as stated above, kept 11 and has 23 more started.
To me, though, the first 100 days isn’t the end of the day — but it should be the beginning. The first 100 days can set the tone for the rest of a president’s term.
I fault this president for setting the wrong tone. He is learning that this job is not easy, as he apparently imagined it. You can’t just say, I will designate China as a manipulator of its currency without knowing what really is happening, and without some facts from your administration. And without knowing the process for such a designation.
You cannot simply leave empty thousands of political appointee jobs because you think that’s a way to save money (which I’m sure he’ll claim someday) because most of those people actually make sure your agenda gets done, and keep the government working … or make their best efforts.
You cannot say, simply, you will repeal and replace Obamacare on Day One. The system doesn’t work that way. Plus, at stake, truly, are the lives of hundreds of millions. The President truly makes decisions on life and death.
Being president is more than signing sometimes meaningless executive orders and calling the press the enemy of the people while defending Bill O’Reilly, a chronic harasser of women.
President Trump has been learning some of what his responsibilities are from other countries’ leaders. If not for the president of China, Trump might not better understand the politics of the Korean peninsula. And he has been taught some of the intricacies of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by the leaders of Mexico and Canada, just days before he was going to terminate the agreement, without learning what it really was all about.
And among his teachers have been the leaders of the very countries he’s maligned for two years (China and Mexico).
If he had the right people, and enough of them, working for him, he might have learned those things with their help and before having to concoct a strategy that makes him look not as uninformed as he is. He now will point to his decision not to terminate NAFTA as a negotiating ploy. Thus far, we have not seen his self-acclaimed talents as the world’s best negotiator. So far those alleged talents have done nothing to help the people he promised he’d help. And his best tactic in negotiations so far has been to cave not just on his opening gambit but on his entire position.
His son-in-law may know a lot about foreign policy (though I doubt it) but he never worked in government so he doesn’t know it from that perspective. And I’m not saying a businessman or woman can’t work in a government, but you can’t depend solely on them for your counsel. They see it from a dollars and cents point of view not a sensible point of view that includes dollars and cents, common sense and geopolitics. Thankfully, he has a capable defense secretary and, now, a national security advisor.
We’re not so lucky on the economic side where his advisors there are proposing solving problems “suffered” by the wealthy, not the middle or lower classes. who are the ones Trump said he would help to better lives.
Plus, a president can’t deliver on most of his promises on his own — he needs buy-in from the Congress and he needs to keep it within the bounds of the law.
Which brings me to probably the best news of the first 100 days and that is:
Our system works.
The system of checks and balances that the framers envisioned more than 200 years ago, lives on today. The Congress stopped a poorly thought through replacement of Obamacare and made sure they didn’t repeal it first. The courts have been stopping unconstitutional bans on travel attempted by Trump and not cowering in the face of his immature rantings about a judge or an entire circuit of courts. He is, of course, “not the boss of them” so his rantings mean little.
The hope is that Trump is learning too that this is not a dictatorship. It is a democracy. Some of what he wants to do makes sense, most does not. The system, we hope, continues to ferret out the bad and usher in the good.
If he would staff his government properly and work with the Congress, he would be less likely to get crosswise with the judiciary and maybe get some good things done. Which is what he promised the base of supporters he has that, thus far, hasn’t wavered but also has not grown.
Imagine that, rather than behave as he has, President Trump tried to foment collegiality with Democrats. Maybe play golf with a few Democrats, or had a Democrat in his Cabinet. Maybe the last 99 days would have been different. But, he didn’t, and they aren’t. And the divide between the parties is as wide as ever. Remember he promised, too, that he was the only one who could close that divide.
Since I believe the first 100 days is not the end but the beginning I won’t foolishly grade Trump. But I will grade him on his keeping to his own 100-day promise and he gets there a D and an F for setting no good tone for political bi-partisanship. So, call it a D-.
I will grade our system of government, though — A+, thank goodness.