President Trump claims the 100-day timeframe is “ridiculous” despite having promised to deliver a robust set of results in his first 100 days. Most of what he promised remains unintroduced and unacted upon by Congress. The President’s shifting standards and devaluing of the 100-day mark indicate things have not gone as well as he would have liked. But how did the President’s first 100 days go? Let’s take a look.
The President has made some great moves on the economy. He has taken steps to reign in the massive regulatory state with many of his executive orders. Among these are the federal civilian hiring freeze, the requirement to repeal two regulations for every new one implemented, and opening the door to the Keystone pipeline as well as further energy exploration.
The President’s budget was, in many ways, a conservative dream. The proposal would realize such long-term conservative goals as ending federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, taking great strides to reign in domestic spending. Also, there’s much to like about the President’s tax reform priorities, although the one-page summary they handed out is far from actionable legislation.
The big economic negative for the President has been replacing Obamacare. The replacement was still a big-government solution that wouldn’t lower cost or do anything significant to fix the bigger problems with health care in our country. The effect of passing the bill would’ve been to transfer ownership of all the problems with Obamacare from the Democrats to the GOP while failing to deliver on the promise of reform Republicans have made for years. The President’s embrace of the bill angered many in his base, and the President’s petulant reaction to not getting his way exacerbated the problem.
Wall Street had rallied on the promise of what a Republican President and Congress could accomplish for the economy, but the failure to get a good bill passed has created skepticism as to how much this administration can get accomplished. The President’s reliance on Executive Orders this early in his term paints a picture of a president who can’t get anything through a Congress controlled by his party.
Also, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has called on the U.S. to remain in the economically damaging Paris climate change treaty but to try and have it reworked. The truth is that the International Community has no interest in reworking the deal and we’re going to be stuck with what we have.
Overall, the majority of the President’s economic initiatives have worked out well, and there is still optimism from many in the business community that the President’s policies will lead to economic growth. However, that optimism is waning, particularly after less than steller first quarter growth number. If the President isn’t able to get major legislation such as Health Care Reform and Tax Reform through Congress, optimism may disappear altogether.
The President deserves credit for taking actions to beef up enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws after too many years of laxity. It sends the right message to those who’d choose to violate our nation’s laws. The decision to take on Sanctuary Cities which refuse to cooperate in the enforcement of our immigration laws is particularly commendable and welcomed.
Many of the President’s national security appointments have worked out as well as expected and perhaps better. James Mattis has been superb as Secretary of Defense, and Nikki Haley has been a bold voice as our nation’s U.N. Ambassador. Her predecessor, in her waning days in office, emboldened anti-Israel forces with her inaction and an anti-Israel resolution. Ambassador Haley has stood up to anti-Semitism and been a fierce advocate for American values.
The President also did well to launch a strategic air strike against military targets in Syria in retaliation for their use of chemical weapons on their people. Former President Obama drew a red line over Syrian atrocities but then did nothing when they crossed it. President Trump’s strategic airstrikes were an appropriate response that took a big step to restoring our nation’s credibility. I question if the President has thought through what the next steps will be if Assad continues to commit atrocities, but hopefully, the President’s action will make Assad think twice before committing such outrageous acts.
Trump’s appointment of H.R. McMaster to replace Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor represented a significant upgrade. However, whatever credit Trump might deserve for that is mitigated by his initial decision to appoint Flynn. The more information that comes out about Flynn, the more it becomes plainly apparent that he was severely compromised, the only way he should have gotten close to the White House was as part of a tour group. Trump’s appointment of Flynn as National Security Advisor showed horrifically bad judgment.
America needs allies, and the President has spent far too much time antagonizing our allies. The prior administration had reached an agreement to process and vet 1,200 refugees who had tried to come to Australia by sea but were forbidden from entering due to Australian law. The President made a huge public fuss about the deal. Australians have spilled their blood on every field of war in which Americans have fought for a century. The President not only disrespected a key ally but harmed our nation’s national honor with his petulant outburst.
Perhaps the President had a fair point that our NATO allies needed to do more to provide for their defense. However, his approach has been like a hectoring credit card bill collector. Also, the President’s statements on this issue indicate a basic misunderstanding of how NATO works.
Trump spent precious credibility trying to deflect and minimize Russia’s attempts to influence the last election, culminating in him claiming President Obama personally had Trump wiretapped. If President Obama had ordered a wiretap on the nominee of another party, it would be, as President Trump alleges, the biggest political scandal since Watergate. However, Trump’s statement is unsubstantiated. The best argument for it was that lots of people were wiretapped during the Obama Administration. That is not evidence, merely an inference and that was all the President had.
The efforts by Republicans to prove Trump right have led to embarrassment. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer gave credence to an unsubstantiated theory by a Fox News Contributor that President Obama had enlisted the assistance of British intelligence agency GCHQ to tap Trump’s phones. This effort created unnecessary anger and friction with our closest ally. The efforts of House Intelligence Committee Chairman David Nunes to run interference for the President on this issue has led to Nunes having to recuse himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the elections. The closest to the substantiation of the President’s wild allegations is that Trump staffers were observed contacting foreign targets of surveillance and their identities were unmasked by then National Security Advisor Susan Rice, an issue Republicans want to make hay about, but once again this falls far short of what President Trump alleged.
The President also hurt himself with his travel ban Executive Order, and it’s clumsy execution. The order was instituted without notice and created chaos at airports around the world soon after the President took office, affecting people who had visas to the country, Green Card holders, and children seeking medical treatment. The order further puts at risk individuals who had helped keep Americans alive during the Iraq War and created the real possibility of these allies being sent back to Iraq to their deaths.
The order, even the revised version, has been held up in Federal Court based upon Trump’s campaign statements about a Muslim ban. This order has created an absurdity where President Obama’s six-month travel ban after a security incident was constitutional but Trump’s travel ban isn’t. As absurd as that is, it’s evident that while Trump’s travel ban is not the total (unconstitutional) Muslim ban Trump promised during the campaign, the travel ban is an attempt to claim to have kept his promise. Rudy Giuliani’s statement on Fox News pretty much indicates this was the case.
The revised policy bans travel from six countries whose citizens haven’t carried out terrorist attacks on the United States. It is like when liberals respond to mass shootings by crowing for gun control measures that wouldn’t stop the mass shootings. Both policies make people of a certain ideology feel safer even if they aren’t. The travel ban was supposed to be in place for only 90 days, to give the administration time to review its policy for vetting people entering the country. Given it’s been more than 90 days since Trump issued the order, the alleged reason for it is moot, and if the Administration doesn’t soon have a revised vetting process ready, it will mark a key breech of responsibility by the Trump Administration as nothing should have stopped them from completing their review.
Despite his action against Assad in Syria, President Trump has continued his pattern of praising and apologizing for dictators. In a Super Bowl Sunday interview, he created a moral equivalency between the United States and Russia, stating, “”There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”
The President congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on winning a referendum that’s given him even more powers. Meanwhile, international observers have alleged voting irregularities. Erdogan himself has led a crackdown on political dissent and the free press, imprisoning more than 120 journalists. Without clearing it with the State Department, the President also gave a White House invite to Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte who has admitted to carrying out extra-legal executions and has run death squads that have killed thousands without due process.
Whether Trump cozies up to dictators because he sees strategic value in it, because he envies their ability to jail both the opposition and the press while literally getting away with murder, or because Trump’s company has significant holdings in both Turkey and the Philippines, the President’s continuing embrace and effusive praise of brutal dictators undermines both his and the nation’s moral authority.
While the President has taken short-term steps that improve America’s national security, we must also consider his offensive treatment of our allies, his attacks on our nation’s intelligence community, and his embrace of the worst sort of dictators. Altogether, these actions pose an along-term danger to America’s security and its ability to gain cooperation from other nations when required. The President’s damage is mitigated somewhat by his national security team, which is made up of well-qualified patriots who are respected around the world. It’s a pity that so much of this team’s energy is dedicated to putting out the fires the President starts.