The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration
David R. Jones of the Washington Post was correct when he said the first 100 days of a presidency is a largely arbitrary benchmark for performance. It does, however, provide a useful interval after which we all can step back and examine the trajectory of an administration. Trump’s first 100 days have been rocky, to say the least. It can be difficult to see through the tangle of stump speech rhetoric, political about-faces, Twitter sprees, and legitimate accomplishments.
Some of the greatest hits of Trump’s presidency are expressed at around 3 a.m. in under 140 characters. One of the best examples of this Tweeting occurred on February 17, when Trump tweeted the news media are “the enemy of the American people.” While this was no new sentiment within Trump’s White House (which often refers to the media as “fake news”), the clarity of the tweet sparked a firestorm of commentary. A similar tweeting crisis occurred after Trump accused former president Obama of having his “wires tapped.” The former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and FBI Director James Comey subsequently debunked this claim under congressional testimony. Trump also tweeted that the US “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” This indicates a major policy shift away from the disarmament-focused nuclear policies of the past several decades. While these are arguably the splashiest Twitter controversies of Trump’s first 100 days, it is by no means an exhaustive list.
Unfulfilled Campaign Promises
Trump has yet to deliver on some of his signature campaign promises, such as building a wall on the US-Mexico border, increasing infrastructure spending, or enforcing a working travel ban. Both of his executive orders concerning Middle East travel are hung up in court, only cursory gestures have been made towards infrastructure investment, and his plan to appropriate money to “build the wall” is facing serious, bipartisan opposition in Congress. In all fairness, it is rare for a president to accomplish signature legislation in the first 100 days.
On April 7, Trump approved the destruction of a key Syrian air base, enforcing an international red line concerning the use of chemical weapons against civilians. On April 3, the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch as Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. On April 13, Trump approved the bombing of an ISIS cave system with the largest non-nuclear bomb in the Pentagon’s arsenal. Trump also fired his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, after the revelation that he lied about the extent of his contact with Russian officials, and removed Steven K. Bannon, his chief political strategist, from the principal’s committee of the National Security Council.
Trump’s first 100 days have been racked with controversy and inaction, and his accomplishments have consisted in a couple of one-off military actions and the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. While this is not the most inspiring 100 days in American history, one thing gives me hope. Despite Trump’s militaristic, authoritarian rhetoric, his approval numbers have steadily dropped, and now rest at an all-time low. Missile strikes and dropping the Mother of All Bombs on ISIS have not been enough to make Americans like their president again. This gives me hope, because it indicates that Americans will not be satisfied with simple military force and Twitter controversies. We all want more.