The First 100

An assessment of the 45th President's first 100 days.

Trump And GOP ElephantLet me begin with agreeing with President Trump, the 100 day mark as an assessment of success for a president is a “ridiculous standard.”  It is an artificial milestone that reflects our general predilection to like nice, round numbers and it really doesn’t mean much.  Even more ridiculous than the press using it like it is a magical marking point is for political parties to try and ram major legislation through the process just to meet an artificial deadline.  See, e.g., the NYT:  Health Law Repeal Will Miss Trump’s 100-Day Target Date:

An 11th-hour White House push to give President Trump a major legislative victory in his first 100 days in office broke down late Thursday as House Republican leaders failed to round up enough votes for their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Some White House officials had hoped for a vote on Friday on a measure to prove that Mr. Trump was making good on his promise to undo the sweeping health law — President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement — in his first 100 days in office.

This is breathtakingly stupid (to use a technical polisci term) and makes me sincerely wonder if Speaker Ryan understands the chamber he leads at all.  That there have now been two attempts to pass an ACA repeal without having the votes lined up is truly stunning and underscores in grand detail how unserious the House Republicans are in regards to health care policy.  This is made worse because the seeming motivation for both votes, 100 days now and the anniversary of the ACA back in March, means that symbolism has been far more of a motivator than policy.  Worse (if it can get worse) is the kind of symbolism that would be worth maybe a press conference touting the achievement and maybe a couple of days of press references.  Where is the cache in that?

But, I digress, as this post is about the President, not perhaps the most ineffectual Speaker of the House in my lifetime.*

Back to POTUS.  While I concur that the 100 day mark is artificial and treated by the press as far more than significant than it really is, I will note that someone else helped the hype this moment: Donald Trump during the campaign.  Via Trump’s campaign website:

Today, in historic Gettysburg, PA, Donald J. Trump presented a game-changing plan for his first 100 days in office.

The text of the plan states the following:

What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again. It is a contract between Donald J. Trump and the American voter – and begins with restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington.

[…]

Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration:

[…]

On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities, and honesty to our government.

As such, I certainly have no idea where we all got the idea that a lot was going to be done in the first 100 days… Such a ridiculous standard!  Dare I say:  sad!

Having noted all of that, I am not here going to list all the broken or stalled promises (many others have done that), but rather give a more general assessment.  Although I will say that his successful nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to SCOTUS was a huge win (it was also an easy one, since all he had to do was name someone and the Senate was going to confirm that person).  Since a huge number of social conservatives were highly motivated by notion that abortion will be banned, or gay marriage re-banned, if the appropriate mix makes it to the Court, that nomination helps him immensely with his base.  He will be able to ride the goodwill generated in the base by Gorsuch for a while.

And yes, the US withdrew from the TPP process, although my guess is that most people have already forgotten that fact and, moreover, they never really knew or understood what the TPP was in the first place.  I suppose that the MOAB drop on ISIS tunnels also meets the definition of a campaign promise kept, after a fashion, although the cruise missile strike on Syria could be seen as a promise broken (although I think hawks in the based loved it just the same).

But forget the laundry list.  What have we actually learned about Trump as president in the last three months?  To wit:  is he a burgeoning authoritarian?  is he a dedicated white nationalist?  is he really a change agent who is disrupting Washington?

To my relief, the answers, as the moment, are:  no, no, and not really.

I will confess, one of my fears of a Trump presidency is that he would exhibit dangerous authoritarian tendencies upon reaching Washington.  And yes, he has signed a large number of executive orders–indeed, it seemed for a while that that was all he was going to do.  Now, Trump is not the first president to sign EOs and there is a legitimate debate to be had about the process that goes well beyond President Trump.  Setting all that aside something very important has happened to several of Trump’s high profile EOs, those on travel and on sanctuary city funding:  they have been blocked by the courts.  The important thing there, regardless of one’s policy preferences, is that the Trump administration has respected those court orders.  To wit:

As ridiculous as it is for the president of the United States to shout-tweet at a lower court judge, the bottom line is that this threat is one that is that made in the context of staying within the established institutional parameters of inter-branch relations.  It is saying that the courts are the arbiters of these disputes.  That is a relieving position.

Now, this is not to say that his (and his surrogate’s) disposition to directly criticize the courts is not troubling (it is).  Nor is this to defend his actions.  What is is to say, from the perspective of one who studies global democracy, both in terms of building it up and tearing it down, is that the initial confrontation between the Trump administration and the courts was an inflection point that could have gone very, very badly.  If Trump had ordered the implementation of his travel ban in spite of the court orders, we would have been in the middle of a true constitutional crisis.  As such, take shout-tweets for the win and breathe a sign of relief that Trump did not, at that point, go down the burgeoning authoritarian road that was possibly open to him (as that would have been the time to try).

In regards to white nationalism, I will first state that there has been some very concerning moves and statements, whether it be weird insensitivity to Holocaust victims, strange behaviors and statements during Black History Month, or just a number of appointments to advisory and cabinet positions, so I am not saying that the slate is clean.  However, the fact that there has been nothing systematic and, more importantly, the fact that Steve Bannon seems not to have the influence I feared he might, makes me operate from the notion that Trump himself is not systematically moving in the white nationalist direction.  I think he is enabling it, to a degree (although lesser than I had feared) and certainly a significant slice of his support is motivated by it, I don’t see (at this point) the administration as being driven by this perspective.  This is not to say that, for example, AG Sessions doesn’t approach criminal justice in a racially problematic, if not troubling, way.  Nor is it to discount the general administration approach to immigration and security.  It is simply to say if one feared (as I did) that Bannon and the alt-right were going to have an undo amount of influence, then one has some cause to be relieved.  This is, I will readily allow, a low bar, and I think it is totally fair to continue to be concerned about various policy choices.  Perhaps all I am saying is that what we are seeing is not a major deviation or new ideological direction that would distinguish it from existing, non-Trump wings of the Republican Party.  A Cruz administration, for example, likely would not look radically different in these areas.  Although I doubt very seriously we would have Jeff Sessions as AG in any other GOP administration.

So, is Trump a change agent or a major disruptor?  I said “not really” above and by that I mean despite talks of “draining the swamp” and really changing the way Washington works, as so many allegedly wanted him to do, the reality is that Washington is probably changing him more than the other way around (it tends to do that). And, really, there has been precious little of purposeful disruption.  Now that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been disruptive, he has, but it has been the disruption of incompetence and ignorance.  Go back, for example, and look at the implementation (so to speak) of his original travel ban order.  That was a case study in policy incompetence.  The fact that he keeps discovering how hard things are (health care, North Korea, being president in general) speaks to his basic incompetence (although I will give him a modicum of credit for admitting those things in public, as I never expected that he would).  The fact that has assigned a thirty year-old family member a panoply of tasks, to include reinventing government, criminal justice reform, and Middle East peace (to name three small items on his list) screams ignorance.  All this is to say that there may yet be major disruption when a crisis hits, but it won’t be because Trump is some change agent shaking up how politicians behave, it will instead manifest as the chaos that erupts when someone who doesn’t know what they are doing has to make snap decisions on a crisis-created deadline.

He has also been disruptive in the sense that he has already had to fire his National Security Advisor and his AG has promised to recuse himself from any investigation of the campaign.  But that is a whole other story (among others that could be cited).

All of this is to say that my worst fears of Trump have not come to pass.  He is not a burgeoning authoritarian with white nationalist goals, nor is he is being manipulated to be such by shadowy figures just out of sight.  However, my more mundane fears of Trump are firmly confirmed to this point:  he is a self-centered, reality TV star who never fully understood what he was getting involved into in the first place and resembles one’s uncle who watches too much cable news, and therefore thinks he know all there is not know about the way the world works.  Really, what more does one really need to know that what the folks at Fox and Friends have to say about Syria, North Korea, or global trade?

Of course, reaching this conclusion, with evidence in tow, is not exactly comforting.

So, bottom line, judging on the first 100 days, worst case Trump is not in the White House.  However, likely case Trump is what we have–and that is more than problematic enough.   The good news is that if the world will refrain from a major crisis for the next four years, we may escape all of this relatively unscathed.  However, the world doesn’t have a good track record for any given four year span in that regard.  The chances for terrible domestic policy choices also are firmly on the table, although the incompetence of the House GOP as noted above may yet forestall some of that.  So, my conclusions are hardly cheery, and I do expect some really bad decisions going forward.

I will conclude with the following headline from the NYT as it exemplifies where we are at the moment, insofar as this is the kind of “success” the unified GOP government is achieving at the moment:  Congress Prevents Government From Shutting Down on Trump’s 100th Day.

*That is, I will admit, a snap assessment, and probably not fair–although the reality is if he isn’t the most ineffective Speaker in the last roughly 50 years, he honeslty has to rank towards the bottom.  And I fully and totally understand he is having to deal with party factions that are undercutting his power as Speaker.  However, the thing that really strikes me about that is that he doesn’t seem to understand that fact.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    I pretty much agree. Trump has found that being led by the Bannon wing gets him in a lot of trouble. And to his credit he seems to have figured this out a lot faster than W figured it out with Cheney.

    Down the road I see a fairly standard mainstream Republican administration with a lot of populist rhetoric. Sessions, as you note, being a large exception. But I wonder how long we go before Sessions causes a major media stink and Trump dumps him. I also wonder how long before Trump dumps Priebus for a stronger chief of staff. Or whether Kushner might play that role without title. And whether said strong chief of staff might renew authoritarian fears, Kushner included.

    Of course a fairly mainstream Republican administration with congressional majorities is significantly frightening.

  2. Mikey says:

    Although I will say that his successful nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to SCOTUS was a huge win (it was also an easy one, since all he had to do was name someone and the Senate was going to confirm that person).

    To a stolen seat.

  3. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08:

    Down the road I see a fairly standard mainstream Republican administration with a lot of populist rhetoric.

    Wow, that’s incredibly optimistic. Down the road I see the political equivalent of the HIndenburg mishap. Because eventually a real crisis will happen, and we’ll have the least qualified man imaginable trying to handle it.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    To me the 100 days thing does not matter at all. It gives us an idea of what the Administration and the Republican Congress want to do, and clarifies the style and manner of the president and his team of advisors as he tries to move his “agenda” forward. It’s as dysfunctional and radically conservative as I thought it would be, and I’m not the least bit hopeful that it gets better in the next 12-18 months.

    Republicans have the numbers to do virtually everything they want to to eviscerate the federal government establishment. They may not get everything they want but they’re certainly going to get most of what they want as we move toward the 2018 mid-terms.

  5. @al-Ameda:

    Republicans have the numbers to do virtually everything they want to to eviscerate the federal government establishment.

    I take the point and fully recognize that there is a lot of time left in this administration. Having said that, the incompetence of the GOP to this point has been telling.

  6. @Mikey:

    To a stolen seat.

    I understand where you are coming from, but that is largely irrelevant to the outcome (and, in regards to the point I was making, enhances the victory for his base and hence gives him even more political capital with them).

  7. MBunge says:

    I’ve never understood the fears of Trump the authoritarian. He’s a wildly successful businessman with a relatively happy family and little use for ideology. He’s certainly tried to get away with as much as he could under the letter of the law but, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing in his history to make anyone worry about authoritarianism. It seems more like a class-based prejudice.

    Mike

  8. Pch101 says:

    That there have now been two attempts to pass an ACA repeal without having the votes lined up is truly stunning and underscores in grand detail how unserious the House Republicans are in regards to health care policy.

    Ryan could be inept. Or it could be his own passive-aggressive way of derailing Trump.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve been surprised at how right I was in my initial assessment of Trump, but relieved by the two factors I had not anticipated: incompetence and aimlessness. If he were not thoroughly ignorant, lazy, narrow and rather stupid, he’d be more dangerous.

    The larger cultural zeitgeist has resisted effectively. Trump has not become normalized, he’s become an object of derision. People who were afraid now sneer derisively. This is not to say he won’t do a lot of damage, he will, but he’s not winning. That was something I got right and have been very relieved to see: the man has no capacity to reach beyond his base. He has no rhetorical skill, and he’s so utterly ignorant and dishonest he can’t persuade anyone not already plugged into Infowars.

    My biggest worry now – aside from some Cuban missile crisis – is that Trump may begin to garner pity. I mean, if you set aside the damage his blundering imbecility will wreak, you have a tragic figure. He’s the clown who people are laughing at, and no one is laughing with. He’s the classic dog who caught the car. He’s a small, weak, overwhelmed little boy still yearning for an acceptance he will never achieve; is in fact incapable of achieving, so he fills the hole left by lack of parental love with desperate grabs at significance. He is fundamentally a sad man.

    Trump isn’t Hitler or Mussolini – neither of them could be described as aimless. Trump is Willy Loman, the salesman smelling vaguely of dust and mothballs, weaving pathetic fantasies of his own importance, (biggest electoral win ever!), furiously seeking validation and eternally thwarted by his own lack of empathy.

  10. Pch101 says:

    He is not a burgeoning authoritarian with white nationalist goals, nor is he is being manipulated to be such by shadowy figures just out of sight.

    How quickly we forget the not one, but two, executive orders targeting Muslims.

    The attack on sanctuary cities.

    Jeff Sessions hinting that there will be a new war on minorities…er, I mean drugs.

    The rampup in visible immigrant arrests and deportations.

    The attack on Syria that appears to be more theatrical and designed for public consumption than useful policy.

    There’s plenty going on. Even Hitler didn’t build death camps or attack Poland in his first 100 days.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    How about in his rhetoric? Do you think if you searched real hard you could maybe find just a few scraps of rhetoric that sounded distinctly authoritarian?

  12. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: I think Bungle’s just trolling us. Anyone who could call Trump a “wildly successful businessman” has to be stifling a major guffaw.

  13. @Pch101: I mentioned almost all of your list, so no, I haven’t forgotten.

  14. @Mikey: Indeed. I stopped reading at the end of that phrase.

  15. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    All of that stuff is indicative of Trump’s desire for an authoritarian xenophobic state.

    What is preventing him from doing it is the checks-and-balances system, primarily the courts. Fortunately for us, the US is more robust than was Weimar and Trump lacks mastery of the game.

  16. Mikey says:

    @Pch101: His attacks on an independent judiciary and expressed desire to break apart a federal court that has issued decisions curtailing his executive power.

    It doesn’t get much more authoritarian than those.

  17. Jake says:
  18. al-Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    He’s a wildly successful businessman with a relatively happy family and little use for ideology.

    Five business bankruptcy filings = a wildly successful businessman?

  19. James Pearce says:

    @MBunge:

    He’s certainly tried to get away with as much as he could under the letter of the law but, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing in his history to make anyone worry about authoritarianism.

    Well, there is one thing: his big mouth.

  20. Gustopher says:

    The fact that he keeps discovering how hard things are (health care, North Korea, being president in general) speaks to his basic incompetence (although I will give him a modicum of credit for admitting those things in public, as I never expected that he would).

    As terrifying as it is to have him be so wildly ignorant that he keeps coming to this conclusion over and over, I am honestly somewhat relieved that he does keep coming to it.

    Imagine if he didn’t realize these things were hard and just plowed ahead blissfully unaware… it would be even worse.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Pch101:

    Fortunately for us, the US is more robust than was Weimar and Trump lacks mastery of the game.

    Also more robust than Russia, I hope. And “lacks mastery” has to be the understatement of the week.

  22. Pch101 says:

    @Mikey:

    If Hillary Clinton ran for president against Hitler, then Bunge would heap praise upon and genuflect before the Fuhrer because he wasn’t a Clinton.

  23. Liberal Capitalist says:

    No, I would also say that it has been wildly successful…

    That is, if you count “successful” as free trips to Florida on the government dole.

  24. Yank says:

    I pretty much agree. Trump has found that being led by the Bannon wing gets him in a lot of trouble. And to his credit he seems to have figured this out a lot faster than W figured it out with Cheney.

    He may have figured out Bannon is worthless. But he then tied his fate to Paul Ryan and his unpopular agenda.

  25. teve tory says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: indeed, in terms of redirecting millions of government and campaign Ameros into his bank account he’s been very successful:

    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/28/15365438/donald-trump-100-days-kleptocracy

  26. Yank says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Telling, but not really surprising. The election really masked the fact that the GOP can’t govern and they are real major ideological differences in the party.

  27. An Interested Party says:

    This is breathtakingly stupid (to use a technical polisci term) and makes me sincerely wonder if Speaker Ryan understands the chamber he leads at all.

    Remember when Republicans/conservatives loved to make fun of Nancy Pelosi (particularly her appearance and age)? Well, as it turns out, she was/is a much more successful leader than the two chumps who followed her into the Speaker’s chair…

  28. JohnMcC says:

    Several thoughts intrude. One is complete agreement that the R-party’s House leadership is amazingly incompetent as said above. The single legislative achievement of passing a one-week continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown actually would have failed without Democrats voting for it.
    This despite over a decade of adulation for Speaker Ryan’s political muscle and policy chops. Like you, I stand and watch and scratch my old bald head.

    Another is that the administration is tending toward GoldmanSachs and away from populism/nationalism for which we should all be grateful, of course. But my suspicion is that a pretty big part of that is determined by simple old greed. No intellectual construct that motivates a Bannon has much of a chance when opposed by the kind of money that I imagine the Trump company is expecting.

    Yet another: This has been a horrible, no-good, very bad 100 days for the orthodox part of the so called ‘conservative movement’. Heritage is in crisis. Fox News is in crisis; O’Reilly is gone; Hannity is playing defense. Rush is preparing to turn on Pres Trump. Speaker Ryan has become persona non grata among true believers. The farthest right-wing branch of the House’s R-party is turning on the so-called moderates in a pissing contest to assign blame for the failure to repeal O-care. They reached the top of the mountain and instantly fell back down like Sisyphus’ stone.

    And about the 100-days-in standard — Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out last night that approximately 1/3d of the legislative calendar for 2017 has passed. Without a remarkable turn-around they have almost no chance of passing the kind of disaster we all expected on inauguration day.

    And Jake, Jim Huff is still — after all these years — the stupidest man on the internet. Quite a feat.

  29. Tony W says:

    And I fully and totally understand he is having to deal with party factions that are undercutting his power as Speaker.

    Apologists for Mr. Ryan should ask themselves what Tip O’Neil would have done in this circumstance.

  30. Jake says:

    Read

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/159981284676/president-trumps-first-100-days

    Everyone observing politics seems to agree on two things about a president’s first 100 days in office:

    1. 100 days is a meaningless, arbitrary marker for a president’s performance that is likely to be more misleading than useful.

    and…

    2. Let’s treat it like it is important! Reeeeeeee!

    The thing that fascinates me the most about this situation is that the so-called “pro-science” people are giving Trump low grades for his first 100 days.

    Allow me to connect some dots.

    In science, you don’t have much of an experiment unless you have a control case for comparison. For example, you can’t know if a drug helped with a particular disease unless you study the people who didn’t take the drug at the same time as those who did.

    But the pro-science people forget this concept when thinking about politics. Where is the control case for Trump’s first 100 days?

    Is it George Washington’s first 100 days?

    Is it Jimmy Carter’s first 100 days?

    And which prior president came to office in 2017 with identical problems and the most polarized political environment in history?

  31. JohnMcC says:

    @Jake: Somehow it seems non-conservative to grade on a curve. But if you feel sorry for Mr Trump I’m sure you could make him feel better by sending money. It’s what he really cares about.

  32. @Pch101:

    All of that stuff is indicative of Trump’s desire for an authoritarian xenophobic state.

    The only things that Trump seems to want are golf weekend, Coke when pushes a button, photo ops, and good ratings. I further agree that he is a xenophobe, but the Hitler comparisons are more than a bot much.

    I think he is a disaster, and will get worse, but let’s be fair: he may be a run of the mill 70 year-old racist, but I do not think we have any evidence that he has a master plan for the state.

    What is preventing him from doing it is the checks-and-balances system, primarily the courts. Fortunately for us, the US is more robust than was Weimar and Trump lacks mastery of the game.

    Well, sure: but that is the point. If his authoritarian impulses can be so easily checked, then they are not the kinds of impulses that should have us making Hitler comparisons.

  33. @Jake:

    But the pro-science people forget this concept when thinking about politics. Where is the control case for Trump’s first 100 days?

    If you want an answer, even while allowing for the arbitrary fun of 100 days, the truth is that in comparison to any modern president he is failing on at least two empirical measure: popularity rating and amount of major legislation passed.

    While I fully agree that the 100 day thing is overblown, it is stunning that he has been unable to pass anything of consequences with a unified government.

    He is, as I note in the post, ignorant and incompetent.

  34. @Jake: Actually, it occurs to me that if you want a benchmark for comparison it would Obama 2009, as he entered office with unified government (but not 60 votes in the Senate in those first 100 days). Polarization was already quite evident in the parties and we were in the middle of the worst economic period since the Great Depression (so, far worse than 2017).

    In terms of major legislation the stimulus bill was passed and signed into law, as well as SCHIP

    There are no analogs for the Trump admin at the moment..

  35. At first, btw, I did not notice you were quoted Scott Adams. He asks:

    And just how long is it supposed to take to revise Obamacare?

    My answer is: there is no specific timeline, but since the law has been on the books for about 7 years, you would have thought alternatives could have been crafted by now. Especially since promises were made about repealing and replacing.

  36. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If a guy who is an aspiring serial killer stops killing because he is in prison, then that speaks to the management of the prison, not to the quality of the prisoner.

    Trump is an authoritarian xenophobe. The fact that he isn’t smart enough to get the job done doesn’t change that one whit.

    The point here of referencing the dead German guy is to note that even he hadn’t accomplished that much early on. He worked through the system, and it took him years to do it — say what you will about Hitler, but much of what he did was perfectly legal under German law at that time.

    I’ve noticed around here that there is a propensity to judge everything by its ability or failure to create immediate and direct consequences. But politics is a long game that involves a lot of indirect maneuvering, so that is not an effective way to assess matters.

    Trump wants to do terrible things but he has difficulty getting them done. The terrible component remains a problem, regardless.

  37. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @Pch101:

    I believe you are both right. Trump isn’t an authoritarian, but he wants to be–as long as it takes no work on his part.

    Say what you will about [INSERT JUST ABOUT ANY AUTHORITARIAN EVER], they didn’t shy away from hard work.

  38. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And, if memory serves, the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

  39. Slugger says:

    In my view the country is in fairly good shape. When your biggest enemy is North Korea, you got no serious problems. Trump should play golf for the rest of his term.

  40. mike shupp says:

    Not quite directly a Trump thing and definitely not a 100-day thing, but still sort of mixed in: While we enlightened types are criticizing Trump and his actions. a really large part of the electorate, maybe not quite half but close, voted rather cheerfully for Donald Trump despite all the problems that liberals and political analysts and social scientists predicted. And now that we’ve seen some of those problems, while we enlightened souls are ever more convinced of our original analysis, those who voted for Trump apparently love him more than ever. They don’t see his errors as errors. they don’t see his lies as falsehoods, etc.

    This is NOT the picture of an electorate presented in civics texts, and this is NOT the sort of political behavior that argues well for democratic governments. This dismaying image is going to be in front of us for a long time to come, whether or not Trump is followed into office by a train of populist-authoritarian copy cats.

    We’re going to have to rewrite the civics textbooks, I’m trying to suggest. We may want to think about some Constitutional amendments.

  41. @mike shupp: Partisanship is powerful, and in that regard 100 days is not a very long time.

    And the civics books are incredibly simplistic.

    Also: he didn’t even win the plurality of the vote, and yet he is president, so I would love to see some constitutional amendments (but I am not going to hold my breath).

  42. @Pch101: Trumps is a xenophobe and he is also an authoritarian (as most rich CEOs are, especially those who inherited their wealth).

    All I am saying is that, thankfully, he is not an ideologically driven xenophobe nor is he the kind of authoritarian who actually has the will and desire to actually govern as an authoritarian. If he was, he would have ignored the courts.

  43. gVOR08 says:

    @Pch101:

    Trump wants to do terrible things but he has difficulty getting them done. The terrible component remains a problem, regardless.

    Yeah. 100 down, 1361 to go.

  44. Kylopod says:

    @Mikey:

    Because eventually a real crisis will happen, and we’ll have the least qualified man imaginable trying to handle it.

    Exactly. The 100-day benchmark is arbitrary, but it protects Trump as much as anything. “Meh” is not a situation likely to last 4 years, let alone 8. Imagine the Trump team handling, say, the 2008-2009 economic crisis. Or 9/11. Or Hurricane Katrina. Or a tweet war with Kim Jong Un.

  45. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Pch101: Why would Ryan be derailing something that he has wanted to accomplish since, like, the PPACA passed?

  46. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC:

    The single legislative achievement of passing a one-week continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown actually would have failed without Democrats voting for it.

    And what’s the plan when next Friday comes along? WOW!

  47. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Exactly! Thank you! (I also suspect that none of the genuine authoritarians started as many sentences with “I didn’t realize how hard it would be to…” as Trump has so far either.)

  48. rachel says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    …he may be a run of the mill 70 year-old racist, but I do not think we have any evidence that he has a master plan for the state.

    I think that was supposed to be Bannon’s job.

  49. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Mike Shupp and Steven T:

    It’s not just the civics textbooks. Have you ever noticed that for all of our rah-rah about the glories of free enterprise and capitalism, how many Americans actually don’t know dick about how an economy actually works? We used to be prosperous and now we’re not (of course we really are but shhh!) because Bad Foreigners took our jobs away by sneaking them over their borders. Not even a basic understanding of supply and demand, energy costs, jobs created by consumer demand – nope, jobs are created because rich people get tax cuts.

    For Trump voters it really does boil down to “we’re good people so we deserve prosperity like we (think) we used to have”.

  50. Mikey says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    For Trump voters it really does boil down to “we’re good white people so we deserve prosperity like we (think) we used to have”.

    I thought your comment was excellent but could use this slight modification…

  51. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Mikey – you know, I really don’t think it’s that crude. I mean, it’s certainly present but on the whole it’s more a matter of personal moral worth rather than the actual facts of economic transformation. Foreign cheap goods became more accessible because of the advent of the container ship and reduced energy costs after the 1980’s; automation and workplace robots took jobs away, not foreigners; at a time when everything is automated and computerized, you need more than a high school diploma and dropping out is financial suicide. These are complications that Trump voters don’t seem to understand.

    I think it’s the whole impersonal quality of the economy that scares them – they want to believe someone controls all the levers and so it’s only a matter of finding someone stronger who can take those levers back from the Bad People.

    Crapping on non-whites is their animal response to their hugest, most terrifying concern: that it’s the Trump voters who are the lowest rung on the ladder now, that no one is beneath them that they can look down on. They’re the n*****rs now, and they HATE it.

  52. @Not the IT Dept.: In general it is nothing new that people neither understand government not economics. And, for the most part, people buy into a simplified version of reality that is as much a myth as anything else.

  53. @rachel:

    I think that was supposed to be Bannon’s job.

    Indeed (or, at least, it was from Bannon’s POV). But this is part of my point: my assessment is that it appears, thankfully, that Trump really isn’t interested in boosting Bannon’s vision, which is a relief.

  54. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Steven L.: I know that, but I guess the point is that while in the older economy that ignorance was not a liability in the search for a good life, good job, family and house, etc., with the current environment it’s not only a liability, it’s actually harmful and even dangerous. You better see reality for what it is and plan accordingly, because you just can’t get by on your willingness to do hard manual labor or learning a single skill. You’d better make an effort to understand automation and transportation and energy costs, and you won’t find the info on Fox News telling you only what you want to hear.

    Ignorance of what’s happening in the real world is a luxury no one – and America as a whole – can afford anymore.

  55. Mikey says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: This is America. For our entire history, skin color and perceptions of moral worth have been tied closely together.

    If anything, my change to your comment amounts to a distinction without a difference.

  56. @Not the IT Dept.: I understand what you are saying, insofar as I agree people, in general, need to better understand what is going on around them. I am just saying that it was ever thus and always will be the fact that people really don’t have deep understandings of their circumstances in a macro way.

    I think that we are still seeing the effects of the Great Recession coupled with the long-term influence of neoliberal trade without any policies in place to address the disruptions it causes. Further, the browning of the US and problems with wealth distribution are also at play.

    The frustrating irony is that Trump supporters don’t understand that their party is the one that most supports policies that have created many of these problems (at least in terms of wealth distribution and the lack of response to neoliberalism).

  57. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Relevant graphic at LGM:

    hourly-wages-v-gdp

  58. @charon: Yup.

  59. Pch101 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    The effort to win some control over Trump may be a higher priority.

    If you were to try to tame Trump, then it would be best to start by letting him fail. (Not that I would expect the effort to work, but that approach would be superior to the alternatives.)

  60. teve tory says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I couldn’t agree more with this if I’d written it myself.

  61. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Pch101: What is it that controlling Trump will permit get Ryan that he doesn’t get out of unregulated Trump? (I agree that the plan won’t work. My problem is that I also don’t see the goal. What does Trump–as Trump–stop Ryan from doing? Gutting health care? Repealing Social Security? Buying the most expensive weapons? Eliminating abortion? Eliminating the safety net? Pushing Grandma over the cliff? Mass murder?)

  62. Pch101 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Trump is a loose cannon who spews populist rhetoric.

    The establishment wants the right-wing bits without the unpredictability or the populism. The establishment does not trust Trump.

  63. Ratufa says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The frustrating irony is that Trump supporters don’t understand that their party is the one that most supports policies that have created many of these problems (at least in terms of wealth distribution and the lack of response to neoliberalism).

    While there’s a lot of truth to that, it’s also true that the Presidential candidate who made criticism of neoliberal policies and their effects a centerpiece of his campaign won. Also, the Democrats did less well than expected in part because many people didn’t see how Obama had addressed the issue during his eight years, nor did they see much evidence that Hillary cared all that much about it.

  64. @Ratufa: On the one hand, a number of fair observations.

    On the other, despite Trump’s rhetoric, I expect no movement in these areas that require federal spending.

  65. Ratufa says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    On the other, despite Trump’s rhetoric, I expect no movement in these areas that require federal spending.

    I agree, and any tax plan that the GOP House/Senate passes is very very likely to reduce the Federal government’s long-term ability to spend money on programs that help people who are negatively affected by neoliberal policies.

  66. Jake says:

    Okay, it seems like the Left is trying to push the meme that President Trump is a failure because he didn’t do much in his first (artificial deadline of) 100 days in office.

    I agree. In fact, I’m holding Trump accountable for breaking some of his electoral promises, to whit:

    There have been no mass roundups of homosexuals and shuttling them off to concentration camps in cattle cars.
    There have been no reports of mass roundups of illegal Central- and South American aliens, and shuttling them off to Babi Yar-style killing pits for summary execution.
    Ditto university professors and -administrators.
    Not one woman’s uterus has burst explosively because she was denied a pregnancy termination under the new Trump anti-abortion laws.
    You still can’t buy a full-auto assault rifle in Aisle 17 at Wal-Mart without a background check.
    It’s still illegal to shoot transsexuals in the street on sight. (Bruce or Shirley Jenner — or whatever xie calls xumself these days — can breathe a sigh of relief.)
    Madonna is still at large, unmolested by the newly-created Trump Secret Police force. Ditto Whoopi Goldberg and [300,000-strong list omitted].
    Journalists have still not been flogged in the public square according to Trump’s new laws, either.
    Now the cynics among my Readers — and there are one or two — may point out that as attractive as some of the above situations might seem to us Deplorables, Trump never promised any of them in his campaign speeches.

    All I can say is that during the 2016 presidential campaign, you obviously didn’t read the New York Times or watch MSNBC, then, because they assured us that he did.

  67. al-Alameda says:

    @Jake:

    All I can say is that during the 2016 presidential campaign, you obviously didn’t read the New York Times or watch MSNBC, then, because they assured us that he did.

    Isn’t it amazing that, in light of just how wonderful Trump says he is, that he lost the popular vote by 3 million?

  68. Pch101 says:

    @Jake:

    Why has this spammer not been banned?

    This clown obviously didn’t write that. Plagiarism should not be tolerated.