Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday Week in Review

What else did Donald Trump do this week?

Approval rating. He sank to 35% approval in the Gallup daily tracking poll, his lowest number yet and the lowest ever recorded for a first-year president since daily tracking began in the Truman administration. The percentage of Americans who approve of Trump's job performance is now six points lower than the lowest ever recorded for his predecessor, and about 30 points lower than President Obama's at a comparable point in his first term.

Politics. Trump appears to have settled on the so-called "Freedom Caucus" as the best scapegoat for the failure of his healthcare bill. Trump called out specific members in two tweets on Thursday, had a surrogate call for a primary challenge to conservative Rep. Justin Amash, and then declared that "the Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018." As conservatives noted, Trump's strongest support comes from the far right of the Republican party, so attacking them for supposed disloyalty to the Trump movement, or equating them with Democrats, may have consequences.

Women's history. At a White House "Women's Empowerment Event" on Wednesday, Trump made remarks about the history of women in America that were reminiscent of his Black History Month ramble about Frederick Douglass, whom he seemed to believe was both an obscure figure and still alive. Trump asked attendees at the meeting if they had heard of Susan B. Anthony, and when they indicated that they had indeed heard of a woman who appears on U.S. currency, responded, "I’m shocked that you’ve heard of her." Trump's other thoughts on women's empowerment centered on his endorsement by (male) industry CEOs, his wife Melania's (relatively) good poll numbers, and his "cabinet full of really incredible women leaders." Two of Trump's fifteen cabinet secretaries or nominees are women, the lowest number since the George H.W. Bush administration.
Legal issues. A federal judge permitted a lawsuit against Trump for incitement to go forward. Trump is accused of inciting his supporters to attack three protestors at a March 2016 campaign rally. The judge found that Trump's comments "at least 'implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.'" Trump claims that he was not instructing his supporters to commit violence; the defendants who actually committed the violent acts argue the opposite. The three protesters, including a minor, were beaten on the floor of the arena by several members of the crowd after Trump's comments.

In a motion filed Monday in a case brought by a former Apprentice contestant who says Trump sexually assaulted and then defamed her, Trump claimed that he is immune to lawsuits in state courts during his term, even for actions committed before he became president. The Supreme Court held in Clinton v. Jones that the president is not immune to federal suits. This would shield him from many (but not all) of the dozens of personal lawsuits in which he is currently a defendant. However, at least one of those was finally resolved this week as a judge approved a $25,000,000 settlement with plaintiffs in their case against the fraudulent Trump University.


  • A president's low popularity isn't a problem in and of itself, but a predictable response to it is.
  • Conservatives who voted for Trump may have believed he was willing to work with their representatives in Congress.
  • Talk about "women's empowerment" doesn't sound great from a president who has openly admitted to sexually targeting women who work for him or are otherwise professionally beholden to him.
  • A president who is constantly devoting energy to defending himself in court is a president who is easily manipulated and easily distracted from his real job.