Donald Trump is tweeting about “the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days,” so let’s apply it. Our standard, of course, should be Donald Trump’s. Before the election, he was super-interested in being held to account for his accomplishments in his first 100 days! He called his list of promises “my contract with the American voter.”
Perhaps the American voter would have done well to remember that Trump likes to brag about stiffing contractors (I found that article by googling the phrase “Trump stiffs contractors,” and the search came up with a broad selection of choices). But any honest accounting (Trump used to be in favour of those: he promised his first 100 days would be about “restoring honesty and accountability”), he has not accomplished a lot. From his own list:
• “Middle Class Tax Relief and Tax Simplification Act”: No such proposal has been sent to Congress.
• “End the Offshoring Act”: Nope.
• “American Energy and Infrastructure Act”: This one would be really interesting to see! It’s Trump’s equivalent of the Trudeau government’s semi-legendary “infrastructure bank,” and it’s supposed to operate on a different model. The feds would use tax credits to attract big institutional investors to pay for a revolutionary boost in roads, airports, dams, sewers and what have you. More than a boon for American citizens, it would be an opportunity for Canadian investors, but it hasn’t happened so I’m mostly making all of this up.
• “School Choice and Education Opportunity Act”: Trump called for such a thing during his speech to a joint session of Congress in February, which was getting great reviews until Trump woke up on a weekend and tweeted unfounded allegations that his predecessor had wiretapped his residence. Anyway, calling for a bill isn’t the same as writing one, and there is no school voucher proposal before Congress.
• “Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act”: Whoopsie.
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I could go on. “This is my pledge to you,” Trump wrote. He’s actually done much better on the parts of his plan that didn’t require getting anyone else to cooperate—the parts that require only executive orders. He’s unwound Obama-era restrictions on coal plants; imposed a hiring freeze on federal employees (which was full of holes and didn’t last); approved the Keystone XL pipeline; set lobbying bans for White House officials; and has restricted travel from several foreign countries after a humiliating battle with assorted courts, setting himself up for further battles with employers.
In his Friday-morning tweet complaining that evaluations like this one were on the way, Trump helpfully reminded everyone that he’s notched a major victory, getting Neil Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court. That’s true, and it’s important that everyone realize that for a broad cross-section of the Republican base, including among many voters who are not otherwise impressed with Trump, the prospect of forestalling Democratic Court nominations is entirely sufficient reason to support any GOP presidential candidate, every time.
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So Trump has had some success getting things done when they reside entirely within his executive powers. That’s not a lot compared to what he needs to get past Congress, where Republicans control majorities in both houses. Apparently this low bar is too high for him. That might change if he changes his work habits and personality entirely, while attracting anyone at all to his inner circle who has any experience or interest in the legislative branch of the United States government, but the odds of all that happening before next weekend seem long.
In foreign affairs, Trump has proven listless and not particularly worth worrying about. He dropped a great big bomb on Afghanistan and several smaller ones on Syria. The latter strike attracted applause from analysts who wish Barack Obama had taken military steps against the Assad regime after earlier chemical-weapon attacks. It’s still not clear whether, or how, the cruise-missile strike fit into a broader strategy of containing or replacing Bashar al-Assad.
In Iran and North Korea, Trump has not yet started new wars.
In relations with Canada, Trump is sometimes fond of Justin Trudeau (is it a bromance? Or isn’t it?). Sometimes he is angry about Canadian agriculture subsidies. He’s got a point about Canadian agriculture subsidies! They cost Canadian consumers and restrict American farmers’ access to our market, although plenty of farmers still manage to sell their product here. What’s less clear is whether Trump’s lousy mood will last any longer than his earlier sugar high did, or whether he’ll be able to spearhead any effective challenge to Canadian policies or practices, given his own mixed-at-best record in changing most American policies and practices.
It’s fashionable in some circles to view Trump as a disciplined, highly effective threat to Canadian interests. There’s simply no evidence to back this view. Until he learns how to be an effective president, he’s mostly just a novelty-shop curiosity with nuclear weapons. And he probably won’t use those on us.