(By John Andrews, Centennial Institute Fellow)
President Donald Trump, the Bronx Bazooka, won’t complete his first 100 days till the end of April. But he has already hit his first 80, and the operative word is “hit.” What a roaring ride.
So never mind the official milestone. Here’s my assessment of his impact so far.
The whole “hundred days” thing, originating with the tyrant Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815 and brought here by progressive autocrats FDR and LBJ, jars with American values anyway.
If we’re going to borrow from the French, better the whimsy of Jules Verne, who sent a brilliant amateur of unsinkable buoyancy and irresistible persuasion around the world in 80 days. Merveilleux — Donald Trump as Phileas Fogg. How about it?
Presidential leadership is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s the work of years, with effects sometimes not fully seen for decades.
And governance is a team sport. By constitutional design, no amount of energy in the executive can by itself see the political landscape transformed (Obama’s hubristic intention, mercifully unachieved).
But twelve weeks in, allowing for those limitations, Trump has made a strong start on giving Americans exactly what they voted for: a decisive, determined, outspoken, optimistic turn toward new policies in a nation most people last year said was on the wrong track.
On issue after issue, it’s been promises made, promises kept.
There will be a wall to secure our southern border. There will be extreme vetting for visa applicants from high-risk countries. There will be no more coddling of immigrant felons and no more money for mayors who coddle them.
There will be pipelines to facilitate America’s energy independence from overseas enemies. There will be a fair shake for coal and other fossil fuels.
There will be hard conversations with nations resisting trade reciprocity and corporations tempted to hollow out our economy. There will be regulatory reasonableness so job growth can boom again. (And have you noticed, the stock market loves it.)
The most important promise Trump has kept so far, the one with the longest horizon in decades, was to replace the late Antonin Scalia with a Supreme Court justice who adheres to the founders’ original Constitution, not the left’s “living” counterfeit.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, sworn in on the new president’s 80th day exactly, will be just that. And by playing shrewd poker on his confirmation, the White House along with GOP senators (many of whom are no great Trump fans) improved their odds for the next court battle as well.
As for the world in these 80 days, one of those non-fan senators, Lindsey Graham, put it best right after Trump rained missiles on a Syrian airfield: “There’s a new sheriff in town.”
Do we have clarity yet on US policy toward Syria? No, and we need that — along with policy clarity on Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.
But the missile strike made very clear that with Donald Trump in the White House, the United States won’t tiptoe in responding to aggression or cheating by any of them. Which could not be said when Barack Obama was there or if Hillary Clinton were there now.
The president is still finding his way. Rescuing us from Obama’s health care debacle remains a work in progress. His staff and family dynamics, ditto. His Twitter weapon, effective overall, sometimes misfires. He has yet to fill many key appointments.
The latter, however, results partly from the venomous obstructionism Trump has had to face from enraged Democrats and their media accomplices. You have to go back a century and a half to Lincoln, to find comparable fury directed at a duly elected president taking charge.
There’s even secession talk in California. Granted, that’s a joke. But President Trump’s ordeal in these early weeks has been deadly serious. The fact he’s still standing, as one desperate attack after another fizzles out, is all to his credit — and to America’s benefit.
A friend of mine who abhors the man said he hopes “les cent jours” for Trump end as they did for Bonaparte: with a Waterloo. Could still happen. Phileas Fogg’s 80 days, on the other hand, climaxed with doubters dashed and the adventurer ascendant. My money’s on the Donald.