A Look at Trump's Progress in 'Rocking Horse' First Month

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 17, 2017 | Go to article overview

A Look at Trump's Progress in 'Rocking Horse' First Month


Byline: Fareed Zakaria

Let's say you are a Trump voter, the kind we often hear about -- an honest, hardworking American who put up with Donald Trump's unusual behavior because you wanted a president who would stop playing Washington's political games, bring a businessman's obsession with action and results, and focus on the economy. How is that working out for you?

The first few weeks of the Trump administration have been an illustration of the writer Alfred Montapert's line, "Do not confuse motion with progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress." We are witnessing a rocking-horse presidency in which everyone is jerking back and forth furiously and yet there is no forward movement.

Since winning the election, Donald Trump has dominated the news nearly every day. He has picked fights with the media, making a series of bizarre, mostly false claims -- about the magnitude of his victory, the size of his inauguration crowd, the weather that day, the numbers of illegally cast ballots, among many others. He has had photo ops with everyone from Kanye West and Jack Ma to Shinzo Abe and Justin Trudeau. Now he is embroiled in a controversy about ties to Russia. But in the midst of it all, what has he actually done? Hardly anything.

On Thursday, Trump said at a news conference, "There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." Matthew Yglesias of Vox observes that at this point in his presidency, President Obama had signed into law an almost-trillion-dollar stimulus bill to revive the economy, extended health insurance to 4 million children and made it easier to challenge unfair labor practices. In their respective first 100 days in office, Bill Clinton had passed 24 bills; John Kennedy, 26; Harry Truman, 55; and FDR, 76. (Despite having a Republican House and Senate, Trump does not seem likely to crack 10.) Yglesias notes that the Trump White House has not even begun serious discussions with Congress on major legislation. The Washington Post notes that of 696 key positions that require Senate confirmation, the president has yet to nominate 661 of them.

Trump has issued a series of executive orders with great fanfare (though fewer than Obama at this point). But they are mostly hot air -- lofty proclamations that direct some agency to "review" a law, "report" back to him, "consider" some action or reaffirm some long-standing practice. His one order that did something, the temporary travel ban, was so poorly conceived and phrased that it got stuck in the court system and will have to be redone or abandoned. …

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