Ever since Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president, most of us have been jumping from one outrage to the next. A lot of that has focused on something ridiculous Trump said or tweeted. There is a way in which that very outrage elevates the president in terms of power to control our political discourse.
But when Trump failed to get more than 39 votes yesterday for the immigration plan he championed (one quarter of his own party voted against him), it struck me that he is actually in a significantly weakened position when it comes to how we have traditionally evaluated presidents. In light of that, the headline that grabbed my attention this morning came from Nancy Cook: “White House left feeling rudderless as Trump hangs back in crisis.”
Taking a step back from getting caught up in the latest outrage, a look at what has happened over the last 13 months paints a picture of an utterly failed presidency. Because Donald Trump is incompetent, ignorant and mentally unfit to be president, he is not likely to improve on his performance to date.
Let’s remember that the day Trump was inaugurated, the FBI had an ongoing investigation into his campaign. Only four months into his presidency, a special counsel was appointed by his own administration to determine whether they had colluded with a foreign power to influence the election. As Adam Schiff said recently, there is now enough evidence in the public domain to answer that question in the affirmative.
That is the milestone that hangs around the neck of Donald Trump. But it is hardly the only thing weighing him down when it comes to evidence of his failures. Even if we ignore all of the obnoxious things he has said or tweeted and focus on his personnel and policy failures, the list is long.
- Failed to repeal Obamacare
- Failed to pass his immigration plan
- Travel ban and recision of DACA have been overturned in the courts
- Voter fraud commission disbanded after it went “off the rails”
- More than one in three staffers left the White House in its first year
- More than 40 percent his first Cabinet-level picks have faced ethical or other controversies
- At least 100 White House officials served with ‘interim’ security clearances until November
- A record low job approval rating for his first year
Depending on your politics, the fact that Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and the Transpacific Partnership trade agreement would be viewed as major failures. He still hasn’t completed the re-negotiation of NAFTA.
In terms of dubious accomplishments, the Republicans were able to cut taxes (primarily for the wealthy) and there is relief in a lot of quarters that at least he hasn’t started a new war…yet.
The president’s judicial appointments and his overturning of regulations and dismantling of federal agencies are particularly harmful. Those latter tend to remain invisible to most of the American public, but it is very likely that a major crisis will eventually reveal the depth of the damage he has done.
The reason these last 13 months haven’t been seen as a major disaster is because there is now a network of right-wing media outlets that have managed to feed enough propaganda to the Trump-faithful to keep them in the dark. Responsibility also rests with the majority of congressional Republicans who have failed to hold this president accountable.
There is no doubt that Donald Trump has inflicted significant damage on this country and our institutions, much of which will take decades to repair. But it is already clear that history will not be kind to this president. He will rank as one of the worst failures to occupy that office.