Friday, April 21, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He reversed his position on the entire concept of a "first hundred days."

In an early morning tweet, Trump called the 100-day benchmark a "ridiculous standard" and claimed that the media would find fault with his performance "no matter how much I accomplish." 

However they may feel about its validity, Trump and his staff are reportedly obsessed with how they will measure up to that benchmark. Even conservative commentators have noticed that Trump's senior staff are leaking stories about their frustration with the internal "rebranding" effort in advance of April 29 that consumes much of their time. (Part of this effort is the hastily-announced unveiling next week, right on the eve of the hundredth day, of Trump's latest tax plan.)

Unfortunately for Trump--who could certainly make the case that a standard set by President Roosevelt in 1933 is less relevant today--he repeatedly and enthusiastically made 100-day promises of his own on both sides of the election. His entire legislative agenda for that period (page 2) has either failed or never been introduced. Even those promised 100-day actions Trump could take unilaterally as president have largely been ignored (formally calling for a constitutional amendment on Congressional term limits), totally reversed (labeling China a currency manipulator), legally thwarted (blanket immigration bans), or "accomplished" via press release with no additional work (announcing his intention to renegotiate NAFTA). 

Why is this a problem?

  • It's bad if a president doesn't really try to live up to the promises he makes.
  • Presidents may not like the media, but they don't get to simply blame all their problems on it.
  • If the benchmark is so unimportant, Trump should probably devote fewer White House resources to making the case that he's met it.