April 30, 2017

Trump in Transition (v16)

Ah yes, the First 100 Days. The honeymoon, when the leader of the free world is typically at his most popular, with the support of the people in ways not likely to be seen for the rest of his term.

Some honeymoon.

President Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in recent memory, with barely 41% of us supporting him. He maintains the rock-solid support of his base, even in the face of actions that run counter to his promises, but that doesn't seem to matter much.

Trump told us that the 100 day measure is a 'ridiculous standard' while he touted his accomplishments of the first 90 days  - screw those last ten -  and at the same time he's told us how great he has done: strong borders, a SCOTUS pick, jobs, jobs, jobs, economic confidence, cleaning up the mess left him by the Obama administration and so on. And Executive Orders - 30 of them, more than any president since Truman - from the president who poo-pooed them on the campaign trail.
I want to not use too many executive orders, Executive orders sort of came about more recently. Nobody ever heard of an executive order, then all of a sudden Obama - because he couldn't get anybody to agree with him - he starts signing them like they're butter (ed. note: #whatthesniff) so I want to do away with executive orders for the most part. 
Maybe he'll stop issuing one every three days or so after he finishes dismantling the Obama legacy; after all, that's why Trump ran for president in the first place. Obama had a birth certificate the whole time, the bastage, and then there was the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner...

While president Trump thinks the 100 days thing is ridiculous, candidate Trump took it very seriously, even issuing a 100 Day Contract with America, full of promises against which he should be measured. Here's a scorecard from Quartz.com that uses Trumpian measures of success for their ratings, with these results for the 28 promises in the Contract:
  • Tremendous! -- a complete success (5)
  • Nice! -- a good result (0)
  • Politics! -- something done/compromise made (3)
  • Failing! -- little done/minimal success (2)
  • Sad! -- nothing done/disappointing result  (13)
  • Total Disaster! -- things are worse than before (5)
My scorecard will contain no surprises for regular readers, who know I'm a 'strongly disapprove' in polls. Let's take a look.

Cleaning up corruption and special interest collusion in Washington: A generally meaningless hiring freeze, a lobbying ban for the political class, and a two-for-one regulation trade off were put out there, but it's laughable to believe that special interests and 'corruption' in Washington will decrease under this administration.

This administration thinks running the country from the dining room of the president's private, for-profit club is OK. And hired POTUS' daughter and son-in-law as special advisers, antagonizing even Alex Jones, the administration's Conspiracy Theorist in Chief.
We did not elect Ivanka Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. I think she's talented, she's beautiful, I think the dresses she wears, the clothing line are cool. I have nothing against her personally. Or Jared Kushner, but we didn't elect him to be the president either. He's a Democrat...
And hired disgraced General Michael Flynn  for his strident anti-Obama stance; he's now under investigation by the Pentagon for taking money from foreign governments. (Trump tells us Flynn is Obama's fault; I wonder what two regulations were dropped for this new one requiring vetting someone after you fire them?)

And that won't release the president's taxes. Or the White House visitor logs. But boy, they have proudly met with all kinds of special interest groups and CEOs, promising who knows what beyond massive regulatory rollbacks, tax cuts, and, apparently, unfettered access to the administration.  Collusion? Corruption? Don't be silly.

Congressional term limits was on the list; that was actually a meaningful change. We knew it was going nowhere, but the Only I Can Fix This president should have at least given it shot, don't you think?

Protecting American workers. NAFTA; TPP; China; identify and immediately eliminate foreign trading abuses; lift restrictions on traditional energy production; allow energy infrastructure projects to go forward; cancel payments for global climate change and fix our own water and energy infrastructure were the promises here.

On NAFTA, he and his team have said both that we'll going to pull out (tradus interruptus) or renegotiate better terms (more foreplay, please) - I think in the same day. Looks like renegotiating has the upper hand, today.TPP is out. Like most Americans, I can't speak to the implications of that, so I don't know if it's a win or a loss.

On energy, he's been busy. The administration said yes to the Keystone XL pipeline (size matters and XL is way more bigly than a plain old ordinary pipeline). He said yes to the Dakota Access Pipeline. He ordered a review of national monuments, for ways to take the shale, oil, coal and natural gas from them. He overturned a number of the Obama climate change and environmental protections, preferring that the states control what happens within their own borders. He just issued additional orders for an America First Offshore Energy Strategy which includes the Atlantic coast, the Gulf Coast and the Arctic coast.

He's definitely keeping his word to energy companies, and for construction jobs, for sure, if anything comes from his orders. There could be millions or billions of jobs, who knows? There could also be millions or billions of desert, mountain, glacier, forest, and coastal acres destroyed in our job-creating assault on the environment, too - from the administration of a man who fought to keep less than two hands full of wind turbines from being built within eyesight of one of his resorts.

For Earth Day, he told us this:
My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks. As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.  
This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our Nation can come together to give thanks for the land we love and call home.
His policies, to date, don't lend themselves to what he said. There is simply no balance here.

Restoring security and the constitutional rule of law. Cancel all of Obama's "unconstitutional" orders; begin the process of filling the Scalia seat on the Supreme Court; cancel federal funding to sanctuary cities; begin removing two million criminal illegal immigrants and cancel visa if their countries won't take them back; and do the Muslim ban and institute extreme vetting.

Regardless of their constitutionality, which would be decided under the vaunted 'constitutional rule of law,' Trump will continue his assault on the last eight years of government, we know that.

He did fill the seat left open by the obstructionist Republican majority in the Senate who believed "eight is enough" unless and until there is a Republican president, and the seat got filled only after the rules were changed, something that was poison unless and until there was Republican president.

Trump proudly told us he's the first president in 136 years - 136 years!!!- to fill a SCOTUS seat in the first 100 days. He failed to mention that only he and Richard Nixon entered their terms with an open seat, but hey, who's counting?

To his credit, illegal border crossings are way down, and that's a good thing. And we are getting rid of people with drunk driving convictions. I'd rather see them getting the gang members and drug dealers and rapists and murderers he told us about out of our country, but I'm sure that will come with time once they figure out how to vet and prioritize.

The Muslim ban - sorry, travel ban, has been rejected twice by the courts; sanctioning sanctuary cities  has also been nipped in the bud temporarily; time will tell on these as well.

Some of the promised legislation he would "introduce and fight for" in the first 100 days that was included in the Contract have not really come to fruition, either.
  • Repeal and Replace Obamacare - sorry, not yet. Stymied by Republicans, Paul Ryan's fault, trying, but not enough votes to bring it to the floor.
  • Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification - sorry, a bulleted list of priorities released on day 97 is not sufficient. His promise here, by the way, was a 35% reduction for a middle class family of four, and a corporate rate of 15%. That last one is on the list we saw last week. 
  • American Energy and Infrastructure Act - sorry, not yet. Lots of talk and Executive Orders and stuff, but no deal for this trillion-dollar plan, or how the public-private thing will work.
  • School Choice and Education Opportunity Act - sorry, not yet. This one will pay parents to take their children out of public schools, and end Common Core
  • Affordable Child Care and Eldercare Act -- sorry, not yet. This one seems like a no go (sorry, Ivanka) since he's getting rid of all tax deductions other than mortgage interest and charitable contributions.
  • End Illegal Immigration Act - aka The Wall - sorry, not yet. This one is so fraught with issues that it was pulled from the table last week so that the government would not be shut down.
  • Restoring Community Safety Act - he gets a partial thumbs up on this; after all, they did roll out the hot line to report crime by illegal aliens and I think the task force is somewhere in the West Wing. Maybe 'he went to Jared' on this?
Importantly, over the first 100 days, it's become clear our allies can't be sure what we stand for, or what we're going to do, because it changes daily. Because it changes tweetly. Because it changes depending on who's talking at the time.  Just ask Canada, Mexico, China, Taiwan, and South Korea, to name just a few. 

We - you and me, American citizens -  can't depend on what the Administration says, either, for the same reasons noted above. But we do know that every crowd is a record, everything is wonderful, the media is fake and failing, polls are bad and Trump is great and everyone loves him.

Unless, of course, those things are not true? 

Helluva great first 100 days. Just ask anyone.