The good, the bad, the weird, and everything else
Author reaction posts are one my favorite things to publish on the site. The breadth and variety of thought and opinion articulated by our bloggers always make my little political heart beam.
This post was Leslie’s idea. So I reached out to the squad and asked them to share their thoughts on President Trump’s first 100 days in office.
Without further ado…
Professor William Jacobson:
When I think about the first 100 days of Trump as President, I actually think of it as the first 100 days without Hillary as President. I’m good with that.
Sure, Trump has stumbled on a lot of issues, and that may not be such a bad thing. Whatever health care bill ultimately emerges will be better for the initial failure. It’s very frustrating that Trump has not filled hundreds of executive branch political positions, so we’re stuck with the Obama bureaucracy.
Trump has not been as big a disrupter as expected, but perhaps expectations were too high. As I’m mentioned in my “You go to war against Obamacare with the President you have” posts, Trump is not and never has been a smaller government conservative. So to expect that was unrealistic.
If Republicans wanted a smaller government conservative, they should have elected a smaller government conservative. We need to keep pushing Trump towards conservative policies, in most cases, it’s not his natural inclination.
Trump has hit some home runs. Neil Gorsuch was #winning. Undoing some Obama executive orders was a good start. The national security and foreign policy teams are top notch. We have shed the Apology Tour focus of Obama.
The attacks Trump has been under are unprecedented, from attempts to undermine the Electoral College to the smear campaign based on intelligence community leaks. Trump also has brought out the full fury of the left and revealed it once again to be more of a threat to our liberties than Trump ever will be. That helps keep things in focus.
Bottom line on the first 100 days: Nevertheless, he persisted.
Why 100 days? It doesn’t seem a sensical rubric by which to gauge the success of anything really. But this 100-day media concoction is useful for discussion, which is why we’re here, discussing Trump’s first 100 days.
Regular readers are aware of my devout Never Trumpedness, up to the election. That said, once he was elected, Trump became my president, for better or worse, and I shed my dark Never Trump cloak and returned to the “no politician should ever be trusted with or for anything ever” life. Trump’s not a Republican, nor is he a Democrat, so that’s been an easy transition.
My thoughts on Trump’s first few months in office are perfectly indifferent. I don’t think he’s knocking it out of center field, nor do I think he’s performing particularly poorly. But at least the Clintons were nationally rejected, embarrassed, and sent packing. That bit was delicious.
I couldn’t stand candidate Trump, but President Trump is a teeny weeny bit more palatable.
Like Professor Jacobson, I can’t for the life of me understand why Trump’s still operating with President Obama’s bureaucracy while simultaneously complaining about leaks, but here we are.
I don’t care how much is being spent on Trump travel. I didn’t care how much it cost to fly the Obama’s around. It’s all part of the job. And what’s a couple million when you’re trillions in the hole?
I also don’t care what Ivanka or any of the rest of the Trumps are doing. Ivanka is a progressive influence on Trump and a pain for social conservatives, but the political media hasn’t seemed to figure that out yet. (PSST. Guys! She’s on your side!)
Pence seems to be a good manager and leveling force in the administration. I’m glad he and his wife are part of the crew.
I suspect learning how to drive the gianormous dump truck of a bureaucracy takes a while, especially when you’re used to driving a zippy little Maserati quickly through the private sector (no, I don’t know if Trump drives a Maserati, it’s just an analogy). Which is probably why Trump has plowed over a few speed bumps at full speed, and mowed over a squirrel or few. He’s kept his word by acting quickly, though it was foolish to think something as vast and complicated as Obamacare could be rescinded so quickly. I would prefer he stuck to his original yearish timeline. Hopefully, Trump and his team learned a lesson there. The last thing we need is some Frankenstein legislation that makes worse the disaster Obamacare created.
Uncanny has been the political press reaction to Trump who really hasn’t done all that much. I’m more frustrated with them than anyone. In their hair on fire fauxrage over every tiny little thing Trump may or may not do (I’ve never seen so much gossipy, speculative reporting in all my life), they’ve required us to defend Trump more than should be required in a short 100 days. But it’s their credibility and reputation that they’re sacrificing, and I suspect they’ll see the consequences of their choices as time rolls on.
Trump backed off on the southern border wall, which would be an enormous waste of money just to satisfy a silly campaign promise while accomplishing very little. The big, beautiful wall might still come to fruition, but our money is better spent on enforcement mechanisms already in place that the Obama administration loosened.
It is nice to have a president that doesn’t lecture me on everything I’ve done to ruin my country, my original sin of being born pasty white — to have a president that, bumbling as he may be, doesn’t stand on Pennsylvania Avenue barking orders at Congress like they’re a bunch of unruly children who haven’t yet completed their chores. He seems content to let Congress do Congress.
And Justice Neil Gorsuch. Regardless of the idiocies that come out of Trump’s mouth on the regular, Trump gave us Neil Gorsuch. God bless him for that one. I’m sure Trump will do some good things, and also some not so good things, but at least we got Gorsuch out of it.
Trump is not conservative, but his appointees are. I’m cautiously optimistic about what lies ahead. But if Trump accidentally starts WW3, at least I have Jesus and bourbon.
My reaction is very simple: Thank God it’s not President Hillary Clinton.
For me, experiencing the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s unconventional presidency is like being on a YUGE roller-coaster that could either be super-scary or tons of fun. So far, so fun. There are been a lot of ups-and-downs, twists-and-turns, and though I am not certain I’m going to like the entire ride, I have been thrilled so far. I will be reviewing the full 100 days on Canto Talk this week, but if I were to sum up the three aspects of President Trump’s administration I really like so far, they would be: 1) President Trump’s epic trolling of the press. 2) Trump’s targeting of Obama’s legacy projects with the precision of a drone and the power of a MOAB. 3) Trump replacing Smart Power with Smart Deals.
The first one hundred days is an interesting metric for judging a presidency. Maybe President Trump asked for it because as Charles Lane said on Fox News Sunday, Trump the candidate said he’d do everything quickly.
Still, even if Trump serves only one term, 100 days is less than one-fourteenth of his term.
The biggest disaster of the Obama administration was the nuclear deal with Iran, the subsequent empowerment of Iran as a regional hegemon. Thousands of people have died as a result of this ill-considered, immoral policy and the United States lost considerable influence in the Middle East as a result.
The good news is that, if nothing else, the Trump administration is determined to rectify this disaster. Whether it was Michael Flynn putting Iran on notice in the early days of the Administration, the missile strikes on Syrian airbase after Iranian client, Bashar Assad unleashed chemical weapons once again in Innocents, or last week’s statements by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, or Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley all identifying Iran as the main source of instability in the Middle East, the Trump administration, unlike its predecessor seems to understand the difference between a friend and an enemy.
That, for me, is a good start.
I can’t begin to chronicle the first 100 days in any systematic way. It’s a kaleidoscope of hirings and firings, controversial tweets, policy initiatives and retreats, unexpected displays of international strength and cooperation, all set against a backdrop of Dem/MSM disbelief and outrage that this could have ever happened.
Some of it was to be expected: the transition to governing was bound to be bumpy for a president with no former governmental experience and with a global web of business interests. But much of it is also due to the president’s outsized and unusual personality, which has in turn engendered so much outrage and pushback from his opponents.
In recent times, there have been indications that things are settling into a more conventional pattern, as some of the president’s more controversial appointees have been replaced by well-regarded, highly experienced people. And there have also been indications that the president himself is open to their counsel. But President Trump will continue to be the wild card in this scenario. There has never been a president like him. or a first 100 days so tumultuous.
As regular LI readers know I started out as #NeverTrump, but on election day recognized that Hillary might actually win Florida, my home state. That I could not stomach, so I voted for Trump, somewhat reluctantly, granted, but a vote’s a vote. Since then, there has been much to cheer . . . . and much to ponder.
I cheered many of Trump’s cabinet appointees and his nomination of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. As a Constitutional conservative, I very much appreciate having Jeff Sessions as our nation’s Attorney General and Mike Pence as our Vice President. And I was a bit embarrassed by the “Muslim ban” EO; it was so poorly conceived, so ineptly rolled out that I cringed through every minute of that disaster. It was Obama Amateur Hour all over again.
I cheered the Syria strike, and I was befuddled by the immense portfolio assigned to his progressive son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is not only restructuring the entire executive branch and working on the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic and VA problem, but he’s also working on bettering diplomatic relations with China and Mexico. In his spare time, he’ll be negotiating peace in the Middle East. I cheered Trump’s plan to rebuild our military and to strengthen immigration enforcement, and I am thrilled that he’s rolling back a long list of regulations. I very much dislike, though, his threats to support primary challenges to Republicans who don’t walk in lockstep with him.
Trump’s dedication to keeping his campaign promises is admirable, but as the days have worn on, we’ve seen a great deal of moderation on issues that were the backbone of Trump’s campaign. From deciding not to pursue Hillary’s lawlessness (a decision I didn’t dislike) to his decision not to rescind Obama’s “Dreamer” EO to the apparent decision to simply tweak and “fix” ObamaCare rather than seek full repeal, He has vague notions of “America First,” but even on that concept, he is malleable. So maybe those trade deals aren’t so bad, maybe China’s currency manipulation isn’t all that outrageous, maybe NATO and the UN are hunky dory after all.
Trump, one might argue, has caved to “political reality,” a reality that he promised repeatedly would not affect him or change his course. It has. This may be unavoidable, but it does seem to undermine his campaign promises about the many “great” and “easy” things he would accomplish in short order.
Trump’s strength is his canny ability to tap into populist temperament; his weaknesses are his ego and his childish, often desperate, need for approval. He wants to be loved, and this, I fear, has influenced some of his decisions to walk back too many of his campaign promises. We’ve elected a president who has no core principles; he’s not in the least bit ideological. America gambled on Trump, and it remains to be seen if that gamble will pay off. I’m still hoping for the best, but am assuming crash position just in case.
The ‘first 100 days’ is an artificial marker that creates an impossible standard for any President to meet. Still, these 15 weeks in office do set the tone for the ensuing four years. Regarding U.S. foreign security policy (which are the focus of my remarks here) there is much to applaud. For those (including myself!) who worried about Trump’s neo-isolationist streak, the Trump presidency exhibits little of the troubling ‘America first’ and ‘fortress America’ mentality that dominated his campaign. In fact, as I noted in a recent interview, President Trump has reasserted American leadership, projecting an image of strength and credible resolve that has put the world’s tyrants and dictators on notice. To my mind, Trump has (thus far) responded appropriately to threats and provocations from Iran, Syria, and North Korea, thereby enhancing U.S. national security in ways that Obama undermined.
Trump has also selected some stellar members for his foreign policy team, including skilled generals with considerable military experience (Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Advisor Herbert McMaster, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly). Other picks in his lineup are also impressive, including his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt who had a successful first tour. Also noteworthy is the outstanding Nikki Haley, whose efforts—in the spirit of the great American statesman and late U.S. ambassador to the UN Daniel Patrick Moynihan—to turn the United Nations from a forum in which the Middle East’s only democracy is relentlessly demonized into one that can truly benefit the planet’s oppressed peoples should be commended. While the MSM obsesses on White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s presser gaffe (for which he has apologized profusely and which was shamefully exploited for political gain), ignored is how Trump’s Department of Justice is finally working to address Palestinian-Arab terror attacks on Americans, an issue neglected by the Obama administration. In his first 100 days Trump has also managed to re-set relations with our allies. That’s already paid off in an underreported recent news story: Egypt’s release of a jailed American.
After a campaign in which critics were not wrong to question an erratic and inexperienced candidate and his foreign policy incoherence, Trump is now beginning to formulate a solid grand strategy to fight the forces of terror and despotism in the world—one that involves joining with allies to deter common enemies and to keep nefarious states in check, and creatively using America’s hard and soft power resources. Over the next four years, this approach could achieve the kinds of results for global stability and U.S. national security that proved so elusive during the Obama era.
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