The First 100 Days: Some Thoughts (Part 1 of 2)

April 29, 2017

The first 100 days of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States came and went today.* For smart, take-no-prisoners analysis from the absolutely terrific Editor-in-Chief of the New Yorker, David Remnick, read A Hundred Days of Trump. And for an “outside the box,” kinda-sorta view, read Andrew Sullivan’s piece for New York magazine, Maybe America Wasn’t Crazy to Elect Donald Trump.

I have a somewhat different take. Mr. Trump correctly notes the fact that 100 days mean nothing, really. And the fact that he made the 100 days a big deal several times (before he realized he has accomplished zippo), and can’t decide which side of the line he wants to be on—both, as usual, seems to be his choice—represents much ado about very little.

The 100 days aside, the comment that mattered most to me came from Mr. Trump’s Reuters interview, in which he said:

I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.

From the quote the meaning of “easier” is less than clear. Easier than the job is? Easier than his prior positions? Something else, maybe. Regardless, the use of the word “easy” in conjunction with being POTUS fries my ass, if you’ll pardon the vernacular.

For my entire life I have heard comments—mostly at the end of a president’s term(s), but sometimes along the way—which always include the words tired, wrinkled, and gray. Comments borne out by photographs. And this guy uses easy in connection with his expectations about being POTUS.

Mr. Trump’s perspective follows a straight line from Ronald Reagan’s first Inaugural Address, in which he said:  “… government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” More recently, Republicans in Congress got yucks when they talked about why legislation consumes too many pieces of paper. Minor, technical drafting errors in the Affordable Care Act, of the sort which back in the day got fixed with a technical amendments bill, turned into two lawsuits which ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court. And tax reform—which Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin calls the largest tax reform in U.S History—comes on a single sheet of paper, with three proposed tax rates and no link between rates and income levels. (Everything is or should be easy, and able to be stated on a piece of paper … or three … but not more than three.)

Governance takes time and effort. More than three hundred and thirty million Americans depend on our government. (Frankly, as the world’s A-No. 1 Country—even now—every sentient being on the planet depends on those we have selected to lead us.)

Right now, we’ve got a “phone it in” crowd in charge. Mr. Trump matters bigly, for sure, but the R majority in the Senate and House have shown themselves not ready for prime time for a long time. An example? For years, we have heard about a new health care plan “coming soon.” Nothing but bullet points, ever, until we got the American Health Care Act of 2017. (I think you are seeing the latest iteration.) Mr. Trump’s “improvement” claims to the contrary notwithstanding, each version of the replacement legislation seems to make life harder and more expensive for more people. Nothing—other than math and basic insurance principles—prevented the Rs in Congress from developing a true alternative to Obamacare between 2010 and a few months ago. Instead, we got “working on it,” “soon,” very soon,” and the occasional, afore-mentioned bullet points. (Easy! But not!!!)

For now, I am done. The first 100 days have shown us a president no more interested in governance than the other elected officials from the party which elected him. In the next few days, though, I will explain—I guess if you see things my way it’ll be an explanation, and if you don’t it’ll be blather—what underlies this disturbing aversion to governance. I do have a theory, and if I’m right, we can put a fork in the United States of America. Done! Over! Finis!

*I do feel some need to acknowledge my high level of confidence about the sun rising in the morning, setting later, etc. I am even leaving the country next week, with the expectation that returning will present no out-of-the-ordinary challenges.

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