The worst 100

So about those “hundred days”…

David Leonhardt gives Donnie low marks.

No doubt, you’ve seen a torrent of coverage in recent days of the milestone. And while it’s certainly an arbitrary milestone, it’s also a meaningful one. Presidents are at their most influential in their early months, which makes that period a particularly important one for a presidency.

In other words the hundred days is an arbitrary number, but the first few months of a presidency, is not. Trump’s hundred, Leonhardt says gently, is the worst ever.

Trump has made no significant progress on any major legislation. His health care bill is a zombie. His border wall is stalled. He’s only now releasing basic principles of a tax plan. Even his executive order on immigration is tied up in the courts. By contrast, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan had made substantial progress toward passing tax cuts, and Barack Obama had passed, among other things, a huge stimulus bill that also addressed education and climate policy.

Well cut him a little slack – he was very busy with other things. Rallies; trips to Taco del Mar; photo ops; watching Spicey on tv; watching cable news on tv; watching Fox on tv; tweeting; bragging; threatening; calling people names. There are only so many hours in the day, ya know.

Trump is far behind staffing his administration. Trump has made a mere 50 nominations to fill the top 553 positions of the executive branch, as of Friday. That’s right: He hasn’t even nominated anyone for 90 percent of its top jobs. The average president since 1989 had nominated twice as many, according to the Partnership for Public Service.

He’s saving money. That’s 503 people not drawing a government paycheck!

The Trump administration is more nagged by scandal than any previous administration. No new administration has dealt with a potential scandal anywhere near as large or as distracting as the Russia investigation. It could recede over time, true. But it also could come to dominate the Trump presidency.

Plus the countless ethics violations and conflicts of interest. That shit’s not going to recede over time.

His basement-level popularity is another problem.

Trump’s low approval isn’t only a reflection of his struggles. It also becomes a cause of further struggles. Members of Congress aren’t afraid to buck an unpopular president, which helps explain the collapse of Trumpcare.

Obviously, Trump can claim some successes on his own terms. Most consequentially, he has named a Supreme Court justice who could serve for decades. Trump has also put in place some meaningful executive orders, on climate policy above all, and he has allied the federal government with the cause of white nationalism, as Jonathan Chait wrote.

He got some stuff done, but it’s bad stuff.

It’s worth considering one final point, too. So far, I’ve been judging him on his own terms. History, of course, will not. And I expect that a couple of his biggest so-called accomplishments — aggravating climate change and treating nonwhite citizens as less than fully American — are likely to be judged very harshly one day.

Or right now. Lots of us are judging them that way right now.

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