Friday, April 28, 2017

100 Days: Trump Fails Even Low Expectations

100 days into the misrule of Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenführer, thankfully little has been accomplished.  I say thankfully, because so much of the Trump/Pence and GOP agenda is bad and threatens to harm average Americans, including those who were stupid enough to fall for Trump's racist and xenophobic campaign rhetoric.  Thankfully, the renewed GOP to destroy health care for millions is as of this morning once again on the back burner.  As for the Trump "tax plan" a New York Times headline describes the one page exercise in irresponsible behavior this way:  "Plan Redistributes America’s Wealth to Its Richest Families." Among those families, of course is Trump's own.  The atmosphere that is net result of this incompetent and deranged presidency is aptly described in a New York Times op-ed this way:  

"Fans of old TV series may remember a classic “Twilight Zone” episode titled “It’s a Good Life.” It featured a small town terrorized by a 6-year-old who for some reason had monstrous superpowers, coupled with complete emotional immaturity. Everyone lived in constant fear, made worse by the need to pretend that everything was fine. After all, any hint of discontent could bring terrible retribution. . . . . Actually, it feels a bit like that just living in Trump’s America."

What is most baffling - until one looks at and understands to white rage that powered Trump to office and his legitimizing of the same - is that surveys show that 96% of voters are happy with Trump's performance even though he has delivered little or nothing to date.  A column in the Washington Post by a conservative columnist looks at Trump's inability to meet even exceedingly low expectations.  Here are highlights:
As we cross the finish line of President Trump’s first 100 days, no leader in recent memory has benefited more from low expectations. A more typical president who tumbled from an approval rating in the high 60s to one in the low 40s would be in a political crisis. Trump’s current performance is only a slight dip from his divisive norm.
A president with pretensions of rhetorical coherence would be embarrassed by gaffes and mediocre speeches. For Trump, gaffes and inarticulateness are part of the package. A president with high standards of integrity would be mortified by a brewing scandal that seems to involve smarmy aides and a foreign government. For Trump, well, what would you expect?
The president is particularly proud of the consequential elevation of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. But this action invites a comparison. Trump’s one unquestioned achievement consists of appointing another man who actually has thoughtful convictions.
Much of Trump’s 100-days defense could have been employed by the pharaoh who ruled after the one in the book of Exodus. The cattle haven’t all died. We’ve seen less fiery hail. And pestilence has been kept to an acceptable minimum.
[A]t least, in polling language, he is a “strong and decisive leader.” This is a conceit that becomes harder and harder to maintain. . . .  Consider Trump’s interaction with China. On the campaign trail, the Chinese were currency manipulators who were too weak on North Korean nukes. In his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the American president got his first glimpse of the Chinese perspective and was transformed.
It seems the case that one of America’s main strategic rivals was, quite literally, schooling the American president on economics and foreign policy.
A similar picture has emerged in Trump’s dealings with Congress. When the Freedom Caucus defied him on health care, the administration’s blustery threats against the dissenters came to nothing. House Republicans ignored his tantrum and continued their work. 
Ultimately, Trump is failing because he has little knowledge of the world and no guiding star of moral principle. The best of our leaders — think Abraham Lincoln — have been sure about the truth and uncertain about themselves. Trump is the opposite. His mind is uncluttered by creeds. He knows what he wants at any given moment, but it can bear little relation to the moment following. Who really believes that he would be sleepless if the wall were not built or if NAFTA ultimately survived? Who believes he would not be sleepless because of a nasty joke at his expense during a dinner party?
Trump clearly wants to be judged by a frenetic level of activity. But the issue at hand is direction, not momentum. It is useful to undo some past liberal excesses, as Trump has done. But negation can’t be confused with inspiration. There can be no measure of political progress without a measuring stick of political conviction. Instead, we are treated to hysterical self-praise. Appalling — but, hey, what did we expect?

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