The Corner

Politics & Policy

Promises, Promises

There is much in Carson Holloway’s case for reelecting Trump with which to agree. But he closes on a note that I find baffling whenever I hear it: Trump, he says, has kept his promises. “He has worked to advance his campaign agenda with a firmness unmatched by any recent president.” I think this is pretty much the opposite of the truth.

It is certainly true that he has made good on some important campaign promises — especially when it comes to judicial appointments. It’s true as well that all presidents fail to accomplish some of what they advertise on the campaign trail. But there are many, many examples of promises that he hasn’t taken seriously at all, and some of them were central to his campaign.

When he had a Republican Congress, he did very little to attain the big, beautiful wall he kept talking about. He’s done almost nothing to build the “new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation” he talked about in his Inaugural address (and in campaign stops). He talked a lot about creating a paid-family-leave program in 2016. His administration has hardly made it a priority. He’s done less than nothing to eliminate the federal debt.

I’m glad that Trump didn’t try to keep some of these promises, to say nothing of making good on his talk of a special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton, or opening up the libel laws, or removing all illegal immigrants from the country. For good or ill, though, he doesn’t stand out among modern presidents as a promise-keeper.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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