The Donald Trump is administration is 116 days old and it is in deep trouble of ending just as it is beginning. Today, according to the RealClearPolitics average, his disapproval rating is the highest it has been since he took office and his net disapproval rating in only one point higher than his lowest since taking office, within the margin of error. FiveThirtyEight shows a similarly bleak, although a slightly better picture, when looking at just registered or likely voters. A President’s early days are supposed to be his best days in terms of political capital. President George W Bush did not see his approvals go negative until May 2004, and President Barack Obama did not see his approvals go negative until July 2010. Trump began his administration underwater and he only dug his hole deeper and deeper.
As I am writing this article, I think of a quote I heard on a recent episode of the Rational Security podcast. Malevolence is tempered by incompetence. I honestly do not know if Trump is malevolent, a populist, an opportunist, or something else entirely, but whatever he is, his antics are consistently getting in the way of his agenda. 116 days into his administration and he has not faced one real scandal, but he has faced self-created gaffs time and time again. On inauguration day, he had his press secretary attack the media for pointing out that his crowd size was obviously smaller. His immigration ban was poorly rolled out. He had to fire his National Security Adviser because of corruption issues—something everyone across the political spectrum warned him about. He claimed, in a tweet, that Obama wiretapped him, without the slightest bit of evidence. Just last week, Trump fired his FBI Director without warning and under the context of an FBI investigation into him. He then proceeded to admit he fired him over the investigation on a national interview contradicting his own White House statements. This is not even getting into any micro-flubs which are usually crowded out by bigger flubs, but take up the remaining media space.
But what about 136D underwater badminton with pink footballs? Let us be real here, there are no tactics behind these flubs. No grand strategy. There is no reason for Trump to constantly and consistently puts himself behind the markers. There is no plan, only incompetent malevolence or incompetent benevolence. Now, I know what Trump supporters are saying. Why should we care? He won his campaign this way. To them, I say this; yes he did. He was also competing against the second least candidate in modern presidential history and still only won because the American system allows the loser of the popular vote to win the election. Today, Trump is running against himself in a race to the bottom. Winning this race will put a stop to any promises made by the Republican coalition. Instead of unifying around the party leader, Republicans whose seats are not locked, will scramble for cover and create as much distance as possible, but this will not be enough. Recent history shows that parties with the presidency have an uphill climb in midterm elections. They are bound to lose seats, and a President that is hopelessly unpopular will see his party majorities fade into minorities. If you think his agenda is having trouble now, wait till Speaker Pelosi moves impeachment proceedings.
No matter if you support Trump or despise him and just want a conservative agenda, his administrations should trouble you. No matter if you want a border wall built or tax cuts passed, you should want his administration to get disciplined and back on message. Yes, he can spend his time, intentionally or not, sticking it to the media or he can work an agenda. He cannot do both. A successful presidency in our modern political system requires leadership and discipline—not trolling Rosie O’Donnell on Twitter.