As Donald Trump finished his first one hundred days, we face questions of legacy; even this early into a Presidency, what you do will define you. Take the last President, President Obama. The three domestic accomplishments he is best known for, are his stimulus program, Obamacare, and his immigration executive order. The biggest two of these came early in his Presidency, and both got through Congress in his first year.
Furthermore, the urgency of a strong start is amplified by being a historically unpopular president. Donald Trump is between and rock and a hard place. Being a historically unpopular President early in your term, suggests a massive cliff to scale, and the only way to scale the popularity cliff is a policy which works, grows the economy, and raises income. But this is the paradox, it is multiple times harder to pass an agenda when you lack the political capital to whip votes. The first hundred days can make or break your legacy. Here is what Donald Trump has going for his legacy so far, and what he has going against it.
-Neil Gorsuch is the only permanent fixture that Donald Trump has going for him. Everything else on this list can be easily undone. By nominating Neil Gorsuch to the third branch of government, Donald Trump’s legacy can stretch for decades with a Justice who fights for the law.
-Lieutenant General M.R. McMaster was a fantastic pick to replace Mike Flynn as National Security Adviser. A fantastic military and strategic mind, who has written the defining book on civilian-military relations. His presence can be already felt by clearing out the highly incompetent national security staff assembled by Mike Flynn.
-Donald Trump’s cabinet is a fantastic cabinet. Retired General Jim Mattis, Betsy Devos, and Tom Price were great picks to lead defense, education, and health and human services. Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Elaine Chao, and Steven Mnuchin were also solid picks, although I have, and even continue to have, reservations about them.
-Donald Trump’s meeting with Theresa May went fantastic. This deserves this column simply because he avoided destroying our most important relationship.
-Backtracking on NATO being obsolete, and China being a currency manipulator. Turning our foreign policy back into something rational and one that does not destroy our relationships is amazing.
-Undue 2 regulations for every 1 new regulation. What can I say, cut the red tape!
-Not destroying NAFTA, for now. Let me stress the “for now” part, the day before I wrote this, Donald Trump came within a hair of putting this into the Bad Trump column. I know supporting NAFTA is not that popular, but it is the right thing. Yes, some people are hurt by international trade, but we cannot hurt the majority to benefit a small minority. Whatever Donald Trump does to maintain or expand trade is a good thing.
-Early in the administration, it was reported that Donald Trump was going to move the Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While I originally supported it, I became convinced that this policy would only inflame middle eastern instability. Thankfully, Donald Trump did not.
-Firing Sally Yates was a controversial but good move. I do not think government officials should be paid not to do their jobs.
-SPICY on Saturday Night Live. This is too funny not to have on this list.
-Days before I wrote this, Donald Trump tax reform outline was released. Although it was just a general outline, it looks to be a solid plan.
-Trump has no major legislative accomplishment, every policy change has been through executive order. Everything good can be undone. The good policies that Donald Trump enacts can only be so powerful through this route and without good policy, the Trump administration will fail.
-The failure of Trumpcare to pass was a terrible failure and it is looking like it will fail again. If it does, the administration’s agenda will not only face one failure but two before they even start a second issue. Talk about a momentum killer.
-The appointment of former Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was universally blasted by national security experts. He was fired by the Obama administration for incompetence, and his tied to Russia continue to be a problem. The only good thing to come from this was his firing and that was after this problem was created.
-I supported bombing the Assad regime and was originally going to put this under “Good Trump”, but the limited scope, abrupt change in policy, poor press coordination, lack of a clear policy, and lack of follow-up made me put it under “Bad Trump”
-Saying a US carrier was going to North Korea when it was not. This may not seem that bad in the beginning, but signaling support for South Korea that was not really coming pushed a wedge between us and one of our greatest allies. If they cannot trust the President then they can not trust America, and that hurts our relationship beyond this administration.
-Trumps meeting with Angela Merkel was beyond awkward. Even if you do not like her, she still leads one of our most important allies, and giving her the cold shoulder is irresponsible.
-Trump is doing more than anyone else in decades to stir up anti-American left-wing populism in Mexico. This combined with the Mexican President’s canceled visit to America over Trump insisting he would pay for the wall is straining our relationship with our southern ally.
-The so-called “Muslim Ban”, which was not really a Muslim Ban, was indeed a bad policy. It does little to protect America, and would only strain relations with key Muslim allies.
-One hundred days in and 428 cabinet nominees are awaiting nomination, and over sixty are waiting to be confirmed by the Senate. These positions include, at a time when tensions with North Korea are high, the Ambassador to South Korea, Secretary of State for South East Asia, and Secretary of Defense for South East Asia.
-Attacking freedom caucus. Trump attacking conservatives for being conservative is bad for obvious reasons.
-MOAB drop. While it shows an inflated sense of American patriotism, it served little strategic purpose.
-The inauguration fiasco over crowd size was extremely embarrassing for the administration, and destroyed their credibility early on.
-Calling CNN fake news. I am against any attempt to delegitimize any news outlet by any politician.
-Twitter. Nothing has hurt the administration and its agenda more than Twitter. Please. Stop.
-Obama wiretapped tweet. This was so bad, it deserved its own spot. This took weeks of media coverage for a completely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory.
-Withdrawal for TPP
-Hillary has not been locked up
-Stepping up the bombing of Yemen
-Praising President Erdogan of Turkey for taking steps to becoming an Islamic dictator
-Steve Bannon as a chief strategist
A lot of good happened, but clearly a lot more bad happened. That is why, I will give Donald Trump a six out of ten. He hasn’t really accomplished anything great besides appointing Neil Gorsuch, but he also has not done anything too terrible. This makes him better than most Presidents.