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Looking at the Good and Bad Changes from Trump After 69 Days

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt…

Looking at the Trump Record After 69 Days

The good things to come out of the Trump administration so far:

  • The nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • Most of the cabinet picks, particularly Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of Education DeVos and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. Ryan Zinke, riding his horse to work and allowing his employees to bring their dogs to their offices, appears on track to be the most lovable Secretary of the Interior ever.
  • Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley already forced the resignation of a UN official who called Israel an “apartheid state” and issued a report citing a scholar who defended the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • The approval of the Keystone Pipeline and continuing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • The border wall construction process is beginning, albeit very slowly. Customs and Border Protection issued requests for proposals and prototypes of wall construction.
  • The stock market boom, perhaps best reflected in the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumping from 18,807 to 20,701 (although it was as high as 21,115 a few weeks ago).
  • Many of the corporate announcements of hiring sprees are repackaging of previously-announced hiring plans, but it’s still nice to see daily headlines of companies hiring in big numbers.
  • In February, NATO’s secretary general announced that the 2016 defense expenditure of the Canadian and European member countries was 3.8 percent higher than expected.
  • Bombing of ISIS has ramped up considerably, up to 500 to 600 airstrikes per week. Yes, this means increased civilian casualties, as ISIS hides behind civilians. Secretary Mattis put it directly: “There is no military force in the world that has proven more sensitive to civilian casualties. We go out of our way to always do everything humanly possible to reduce the loss of life or injury among innocent people. The same cannot be said for our adversaries.”

The bad things to come out of the Trump administration so far:

  • Tweeting that President Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower, an accusation that no one could find any evidence to support.
  • Not merely the inability to pass health care reform on the first try, but the clumsy way it was handled, with Trump clearly not caring about the details and Bannon trying to bully the House Freedom Caucus, telling them they had “no choice” but to vote for it.
  • Trump continues to make big promises with few details on how he’s going to make it work. Last night he said, “I know that we are all going to make a deal on health care. That’s such an easy one.” Is it? Is it really?
  • The administration had a series of defeats in court; the initial travel ban appeared to be hastily-written, ignored career lawyers of DHS, and created chaos at the nation’s airports.
  • The FBI is investigating whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia on illegal hacking of places like John Podesta’s computer and the DNC and other efforts to influence the election.
  • The outlook for tax reform is complicated by the failure to get health care reforms done first, as the reforms were supposed to create the savings to pay for the tax cuts. Ditto for the dreams of a big infrastructure bill.
  • It’s very early, but there are signs that the “energized Democratic grassroots” storyline isn’t just media wish-fulfillment. Just as Republicans woke up and got active as the Obama era began in 2009, Democrats may be the same…
  • We’re cool with a president frequently golfing now, huh, conservatives?
  • We don’t care if White House visitor logs are no longer accessible to the public, huh? We’re fine with the Trump administration being less open and transparent than the Obama administration?

Yesterday I wrote about one of the more bewildering and unnerving early stumbles of the administration, a persistent complaint about the “deep state” while failing to nominate anyone for hundreds upon hundreds of important positions. Yes, the Senate could confirm the 40 or so nominees faster, but the Trump administration just looks flatly unprepared for one of the key tasks of governing.

I’m sure everyone will have their own additions to these lists…


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