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Posted by on Apr 29, 2017 in Politics | 0 comments

What to make of Trump’s first 100 days

What to make of Trump’s first 100 days in office? I don’t have much to add beyond what seems strikingly obvious: it has been a disastrous Presidency so far.

I expected him to flop on every promise, either through incompetence or treachery, and he has flopped mightily. I would venture to say that he has had the worst beginning of any Presidency in American history (except William Henry Harrison, who died a month into office).

It has been clear from the beginning that he is in this just to enrich himself and his family, and he has done everything toward that end. His shady – and possibly treasonous – relationship with Russia is based in his personal financial history, which he has hoped to leverage for massive oil and gas profits. His bizarre shift on China is almost certainly related to that country’s awarding of a trademark to Trump. Nearly all of his top Administration posts are corrupt ideologues who hope to enrich themselves as they enrich Trump. He is too lazy to appoint anybody below the top level.

Donald Trump is every bit the narcissistic and incurious fool he was when he began his campaign by baiting Muslims and Mexicans. Ever the Jacksonian, he still makes casually obscene and racist comments like calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” to a frothing crowd at the NRA. When people like David Brooks praise Trump for “learning on the job,” they are pretty clearly applauding the man’s accidental slippage into establishment Republican policy…which is a result mostly of his closest advisors (like Michael Flynn) being too troublesome to keep around.

The Gorsuch Supreme Court appointment might be worthy of praise (for conservatives) if not for the underhanded work of McConnell in making it possible. If he is to be credited for anything it is that he has been so bad that he probably took the air out of the global right wing populist movement. The West, the EU, and NATO are probably stronger now because of Trump’s threat. The economy is ho-hum, though mostly because he has not been able to do anything to change the course of the Obama Administration.

That Trump has held on to his voting base through all of this is not noteworthy. What is noteworthy is that he has not picked up support from anybody else, which is why his approval rating hovers just below 40. Even that number is a bit inflated as he probably pulls in 10 or 15 percent from people who are more anti-anti-Trump than pro-Trump – that is, conservative Republicans who didn’t like Trump in the primary but found him useful to get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and who occasionally rally to him for hurling an insult at a favorite liberal target.

For the rest of us, he has been downright exhausting, like being forced to attend a lengthy religious service of a denomination one finds revolting and constantly forced to reject everything one hears. The man’s obnoxiousness invades every social media space. The latest “exclusive” Louise Mensch conspiracy theory leading to imminent impeachment becomes a tonic, a hope that this nightmare will end and America can go back to being great again. Yes, the Resistance is inspiring and Indivisible seems pretty effective. And it looks like 2018 will bring a massive electoral backlash and Democratic takeover of Congress and various state houses. But, damn, that seems a long time away.

What has really been most surprising, I suppose, is the failure of the GOP Congress to take advantage of this Republican President to get anything like its agenda passed. It’s as if the House GOP is even more divided than the Democratic House was in the late 1970s when it was split between aging Dixiecrats and liberals.

Will Trump get his act together and start behaving like a President? I doubt it.

He is 70 years old and has never had to listen to anybody else in his life. Quietly, those working class whites who went from Obama to Trump in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Iowa and Wisconsin and Michigan will drift back into the “all politicians are corrupt liars” camp. The establishment conservative Republicans will find him less useful as they seek a scapegoat for the failures in Congress. The Herrenvolk Rednecks will stand by him to the end, just as they did with Bush. Hopefully the rest of us will learn that when a political candidate claims to be against what’s wrong in Washington, he or she may actually be worse than the status quo.

In the meantime, we must plod on. Fight on every front. And build a different vision. Oh, and how about rallying around a single payer health insurance system to solve the Obamacare “disaster” that the Republicans are utterly incapable of addressing? That will also make American great…again.
Caricature via DonkeyHotey/Flickr

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