Friday, April 28, 2017

100 Days and Counting

The Trump administration has been in place for almost 100 days now and I thought that I might try to summarize my thoughts. The 100 day marker is really inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. FDR's first 100 days have been mythologized at this point because of what he was able to accomplish in that time frame. The framework for the New Deal had been put in place in those frenetic 100 days of that administration. It is an almost impossible standard for anyone else to meet. FDR came into office riding a massive mandate given by the American people who were in a panic following the crash on Wall St. and mired in the first years of the great depression. The Democratic party had 72% of the House and 63% of the Senate and those numbers would actually increase in the mid-term election. The country had never been so united in the belief that one party had utterly failed them. Great things were indeed accomplished, although at this point most would believe that the country turned around immediately and that we returned to normal employment rates. That is far from the truth, however. We didn't dip under double digit unemployment until we started to ramp up for WWII, a full 8 years later. Segregation remained the law of the land, we didn't get a national health care plan and women's rights were also largely ignored.

We shouldn't let truth interfere with myth in this post-truth society. FDR saved the world in 100 days and so every President since has had the burden of having to produce a similar miracle, whether one was needed or not. So what have we gotten out the first 100 days of this presidency? Basically it's been a non-stop attempt to undo everything that the previous administration had put in place. Women's rights, immigrants, the environment, health care, sensible gun control are just a few of the things that have come under attack by this administration. Most have been done through executive orders as opposed to legislation but that's mainly because this administration has no real use for Congress. President Trump is used to being a CEO. Things get done with a stroke of his pen, not through an elected board of representatives. He has shown no ability to work with Congress or even to make a good faith effort to work with them. 

To his credit, the President has followed through on some of his campaign promises (the most important of those was to appoint a conservative justice to the supreme court). He therefore enjoys almost across the board support from the republican voters who put him in the White House. Of course the number of things he said he was going to get done on day one is a staggering list, so he hasn't come close to matching the rhetoric of his campaign. He has changed his position on numerous hot button topics like jailing Hillary Clinton, NAFTA, NATO, etc., and most often his change came from very short conversations from people who actually know what they are talking about. 

His staff has been a mess since day one. He has consistently put people in charge of government agencies who have no idea about what they actually do or are openly hostile to the mission of the agency. Climate change denier in charge of the EPA, a hater of public schools in charge of the Education department, someone who wants to eliminate the department in charge of Energy. Not to mention Ben Carson, whose qualifications for the Housing department appears to be that he once lived in public housing as a child. The most head scratching appointment is an unofficial one. His son in law has put in charge of fixing the world. His main qualification seems to be that he married Trump's daughter. 

I guess there's no point in rehashing all the ups and downs of this presidency. I will say that he has approached the job exactly as he said he would. He's an outsider who is trying to run the government like a CEO. If that's what you voted for, then I can understand why you would be satisfied with the job that he has done. For those of us who didn't, it looks like a confused and muddled mess. Maybe it gets better with time, maybe it gets worse. I actually don't know. If I were advising this president, I would propose that he switch his tune on the health care and get a truly universal health care proposal on the table. If he could do that, the Democrats would have to get on board and I believe he could convince enough Republicans to join with them to get something meaningful passed. His base of supporters would have say that he's doing what he promised, so they would have to be on board as well. It would be a political master stroke. The Democrats would be left scrambling having helped this president to secure a signature piece of legislation. The President could then truly say that he did what was right for the people. He would talk about not being beholden to any party. He could talk about a new vision for the country going forward. It would turn the electorate on it's head and would secure the legacy of President Trump. Of course it would take a lot of work and would need the help of more than just his son in law. 

Will it happen? Not very likely because as the President and rest of country have learned in the first hundred days of his presidency, this job is really hard. 


Beach Bum said...

I almost wrote a post on trump's 100 days, but frankly I still quite wrap my mind around the fact that he lives in the White House. Side note, I will never call that lump of human feces president.

The one observation I will make though is that Trump isn't the core problem but a symptom of a society that at best is in the middle of demographic and cultural changes. At worst, he is proof of our inability to adapt to a world changing at warp speed.

Unfortunately I leaning towards the latter lately instead of the former. While I am sure there will be minor but much publicized exceptions, Trump will not be able to break economic laws and trends and bring back the manufacturing jobs he promised the folks in the Rust Belt. Nor will he magically wave his hand and replace Obamacare with one that will be cheaper.

My biggest fear is not that he will start a war, but that he will muddle through his term and with the help of his subordinates not screw up enough for him to be kicked out in 2020. Of course, this precludes some event like him being indicted of in fact screwing the economy enough that we go into a bad recession.

If he completes his term though, his damage to the environment, good governance, basic scientific research, civil rights, and simple civility will be incalculable. Why do I even harbor this nightmare? Because of late the Democrats seem intent on replaying the old BernieBots Hillary Drones debate.

Long story short, I'm considering my old plan of leaving the country when I retire.

Mycue23 said...

As always, thanks for the stopping by. I don't harbor any hope that this presidency will turn out to be memorable for anything but constant missteps, but as Trump is finding out, it's a really hard job. The best we can hope is that he continues to surround himself with people who are unqualified political neophytes and they will continue to bumble their way through the next four years. That way at least the legislative damage will be minimal. the fact that he may get to replace 3 more supreme court justices is much more critical. He may get to leave his stamp on the court for another 30 years. That damage may take multiple generations to repair. It's an unpleasant thought. As far as replaying the whole Bernie vs. Hillary contest, it's unproductive at best and self destructive at worst. I wonder if those people who refused to vote for Hillary still think that there's no difference between a Hillary Clinton administration and whatever it is we are now being subjected to President Trump? But as I've said before, we get the leaders that we deserve.
Oh, and we really do need to plan to get a drink someday.

SJ said...

@Mycue23 -This is a well written and cogent assessment of the new presidency. I thank you: Few people, especially not myself, have been able to comment and write about what is going on without resorting to all caps and exclamation points and insults. That's not getting us anywhere. You highlight some of the biggest troubles this administration will have wrought, namely the changing or dismantling of policy, regulation and law through engineered "dysfunction."—This administration's EPA appointment is such a brazen, crass attack on that department's mission's and responsibilities to the public and the nation's natural resources, it hardly merits analysis, but it absolutely demands action on the part of voters. Keep writing my friend; I'll keep reading.

Mycue23 said...

I do miss your commentary. Hopefully you'll fell like chiming in sometime in the near future. You're better at this than I am.

SJ said...

That's kind, but doubtful. Remember the throwdown your cogent and reasoned post about the election results and the real math behind the 2016 election inspired on Facebook?—Now that's thoughtful writing... a great perspective that I thoughtlessly re-posted -not realizing how insane everyone still was in the immediate aftermath of Trump's electoral win, hence the arguing and backbiting among people who, I can honestly say at the end of the day are all old friends who want the same thing for the nation.
No sir. I leave this to you, and I thank you for the invitation, which I may take up, if courage and intelligence someday serve me half as well as they are manifest in you my wise friend.