O.k., so it’s been a loooooong time (February!) since I’ve posted anything political. Believe me, it’s not for lack of desire, or topics worth commenting on. The problem has primarily been time—what with a law practice, one child—young man now—graduating and leaving to go to Japan for a year, another child involved in every activity her school offers, summer activities, and so forth, I simply don’t have enough. Time, that is (I have 3 children, which is quite enough for now, thank you). But part of the (related) problem has been that there is simply too much to write about. By the time I have figured out what I want to say about the latest Trump fiasco and found some time to say it, another fiasco has taken its place—sometimes the same day. Really, the White House has been awfully busy. Not necessarily in a good way.
So let’s just spend a few minutes and take stock of the Trump presidency now that we are seven months into the administration.
Conservative Supreme Court justice appointed and confirmed? Check! Credit where credit is due: kudos to Trump. It bears pointing out that it did take the “nuclear option” to get Gorsuch confirmed, but that speaks to the disfunctionality of the Senate, rather than the president.
And, the economy has been doing well. Wall Street is booming (a little too much, which worries me, but that’s a topic for another time), but that is more a measure of how Wall Street perceives the administration’s economic agenda, rather than anything Trump has actually done, which is pretty much nothing. Jobs are recovering. The unemployment rate is just about where it should be (4.3%—effectively full employment, though that number has a hatload of caveats attached to it). The economy is continuing to recover, though sluggishly. The fact is, Trump hasn’t had an opportunity to do anything about any of this, which means outside factors are pretty much driving all the good news.
Let’s see . . .
Border wall started? Nope.
Obamacare repealed and replaced—or just repealed? Nope. And there have already been several bites at this apple. Although Congress shoulders a great deal of blame for this, the fact is that Trump promised to make this happen, and he hasn’t been able to. In truth, he has done little to assist Congress in this endeavor, other than threaten them with dire consequences for their failures.
Iran deal scrapped? Nope. To be fair, Trump never promised to rescind the Iran agreement, which I never understood, because he called it the worst deal ever made. Still, I think many Trumpers thought he’d trash the deal anyway once in office. Guess those people were wrong. Instead, Trump has certified Iranian compliance twice so far.
Tax cuts? Nope.
Immigration reform? Nope.
Along the same lines: Deportation squads and mass deportations? Nope.
Planned Parenthood defunded? Nope. Again, though, to be fair, Trump never promised to do this. In fact, during the campaign he defended Planned Parenthood, saying it does some very good things. And “conservatives” voted for him anyway. Another thing I never understood.
I’m not even going to go into the absolutely horrific positions Trump took on various issues during the campaign (such as tariffs on China, bombing families of terrorists, registration of Muslims, suing members of the press, abandoning NATO, etc.), except to say “Hallelujah” that he hasn’t done any of them (yet).
The reality is that, halfway through his first year (and almost 15% of the way through his term), he has already pretty much made himself a lame duck. According to reports, Trump has no—zero, none, nada—friends in the Senate. For those of you who don’t have your pocket Constitution handy, it still takes a majority vote of the Senate to pass legislation.
So, what have we gotten?
Well, we’ve gotten a whole heap of White House turnover. It is normal for a presidential administration to have a little turnover, even at the beginning of the term. But this isn’t just unusual, it’s crazy out of bounds. Michael Flynn, Katie Walsh, James Comey, K.T. McFarland, Michael Dubke, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucci (to name only the big players). We are on our third White House Communications Director in seven months.
[Side bar: I would point out, with absolutely no modesty at all, that I raised the question of Reince Priebus being thrown under the bus way six months ago.]
And if this past week’s events are any indication, it’s not going to get any better. The fact is, Trump is his own worst enemy. Replacing Reince Priebus with General John Kelly as Chief of Staff was an excellent move; Kelly will impose discipline on the White House staff. Unfortunately, the one person who needs discipline most is the one person Kelly can’t manage—Trump. Reasonable and intelligent minds can differ about whether Trump’s various remarks on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday concerning the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia were adequate, appropriate, or what have you. But there is talk of even more potential White House resignations, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if Kelly himself doesn’t quit the team by Christmas. And Kelly’s not a quitter.