The Week on Planet Trump: Not Winning as He Approaches 100 Chaotic Days
Monday: Not a Dealmaker
The one thing Donald Trump was always great at was personal branding; the success that he had in business was in large part a product of people who had seen him on TV and associated him with wealth and success wanting to taste some of it themselves. If the image always outpaced the reality, so what? Doesn't every salesman exaggerate?
Perhaps, but when you're president, there's a point at which you have to deliver. It's becoming clear that Trump's supposed skill as a negotiator was all part of the act, just bluster and bombast, as thin as his gold leaf wallpaper. And everyone's beginning to figure it out.
Paul Waldman, The Week
Tuesday: On the Brink of War with North Korea
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said last week that the situation is on a “knife edge” and that a “storm [was] about to break.”
So are we on the brink of the Second Korean War, if not World War III? I doubt it. Saturday was the Day of the Sun, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s largest national holiday. In recent weeks, there was a great deal of speculation that the Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, would use the opportunity to test or at least display some new piece of nuclear hardware. What we got were six KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and what looked like a new intercontinental ballistic missile, accompanied with the usual bellicose rhetoric (“If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with [an] annihilating strike.”) Sunday’s missile test was a fail.
North Korea has certainly made progress with its nuclear program. However, to pose a meaningful threat, it would have to develop a warhead small enough to fit on an ICBM. From what I can gather from the experts, it is not there yet.
Niall Fergusan, The Boston Globe
Wednesday: Drifting From Populism
As he nears 100 days in the White House, Mr. Trump has demonstrated that while he won office on a populist message, he has not consistently governed that way. He rails against elites and on Tuesday signed an order favoring American companies for federal contracts. But he has stocked his administration with billionaires and lobbyists while turning over his economic program to a Wall Street banker. He may be at war with the Washington establishment, but he has drifted away from some of the anti-establishment ideas that animated his campaign.
The shift comes as the president has moved to marginalize their most outspoken proponent, Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist who made it his mission to deconstruct “the administrative state.” On the rise are Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, and Gary D. Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs president serving as the president’s national economics adviser.
Peter Baker, The New York Times
Thursday: Progressive Revival in Georgia
It’s important to point out that nothing about Tuesday night was a victory for Trump, even if Press Secretary Sean Spicer was spinning it on Wednesday as a loss for Democrats. Before Trump’s presidency, the seat had long been safely Republican; now–Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price won it by 23 points just this past November. Ossoff has been able to mount a credible run because of widespread revulsion towards Trump.
On the Republican side, Handel was one of the candidates least associated with the president. One of the aggressively pro-Trump candidates in the race, Bob Gray, attacked her disloyalty to Trump in hopes of beating her for second place. He ended up 9 points behind her, with 10.8 percent of the vote. Other candidates who tied themselves to the president did even worse. “[D]on’t believe the White House spin that this was not a rebuke of the President,” wrote the anti-Trump conservative Erick Erickson. “The more closely aligned a candidate was with President Trump, the worse that candidate did.”
Michelle Goldberg, Slate
Friday: Quietly Killing Obama’s Legacy
It must be shocking for a president elected on his promise to rack up so many wins thatwe’d tire of winning to approach the 100-day mark with no real legislative achievement. White House aides desperate to load up the president’s scorecard are claiming a bevy of rollbacks of Obama-era regulations as the most impactful measures that have passed Congress since the new administration took office.
That’s true—but it’s also true that these measures, taken together, are deeply unpopular with the broader public. A week after White House legislative affairs director Marc Short urged reporters to pay more attention to President Donald Trump’s prolific use of an obscure twenty-year-old law, the Congressional Review Act, to overturn protections put in place by his predecessor, Trump kept the media away from two of his most controversial signings.
With no cameras to record the moment, he repealed online privacy protections for consumers, and he signed a measure removing a rule from the final days of the Obama administration to prevent governors from withholding federal funding from health care providers if they provide contraception and abortion services.
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Saturday: The “Madman theory”
For Nixon, being a madman meant having a singleminded focus and no restraint on tactics. Trump’s version of the madman theory is quite the opposite: being unpredictable because he can’t control the various factions in your government and has a flighty temperament.
Nixon was a flawed figure, while Trump is a farcical one. Trump is less a twenty-first century Nixon than his absurd doppelgänger. Despite his warped personality, Nixon made some substantial, positive, and lasting changes in American foreign policy. So far, Trump is only sowing confusion and disorder. But there is one area where Nixon and Trump really are similar: As American presidents, both held the power of life and death over the world.
Jeet Heer, New Republic
Sunday: Approaching 100 Days of Trump
This Presidency is so dispiriting that, at the first glimmer of relative ordinariness, Trump is graded on a curve. When he restrains himself from trolling Kim Jong-un about the failure of a North Korean missile test, he is credited with the strategic self-possession of a Dean Acheson. The urge to normalize Trump’s adolescent outbursts, his flagrant incompetence and dishonesty—to wish it all away, if only for a news cycle or two—is connected to the fear of what fresh hell might come next. Every day brings another outrage or embarrassment: the dressing down of the Australian Prime Minister or a shoutout for the “amazing job” that Frederick Douglass is doing. One day nato is “obsolete”; the next it is “no longer obsolete.” The Chinese are “grand champions” of currency manipulation; then they are not. When Julian Assange is benefitting Trump’s campaign, it’s “I love WikiLeaks!”; now, with the Presidency won, the Justice Department is preparing criminal charges against him. News of Trump’s casual reversals of policy comes with such alarming regularity that the impulse to locate a patch of firm ground is understandable. It’s soothing. But it’s untenable.
David Remnick, The New Yorker
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