Trump The Un-Doer
The New Deal. The Monroe Doctrine. Reaganomics.
Strong presidents throughout our history have legacies carved indelibly based on their accomplishments. Who can think of emancipation without Lincoln? How about the Cold War without Kennedy? Presidents with a strong point of view, for better or worse, wind up with signatures on history.
Which brings us to President Trump. How do we define a presidency marked by a void of legislative accomplishments? How about one without defining principles? His presidency isn’t defined by its legislative agenda or a North Star; it’s a loose set of reactions based on “Make America Great Again.”
If the president and his team won’t define it, it’s left to the rest of us. There is only one leitmotif for this presidency: Un-Doing.
Thinking about his campaign and presidency, that’s the only consistency in a sea of other distractions. Donald Trump always wants to un-do. His main legislative goals during the campaign: Lock Her Up (Un-Do Hillary Clinton); Repeal Obamacare (Un-Do President Obama); Drain The Swamp (Un-Do Washington); Build a Wall (Un-Do Immigration).
We can all disagree about a lot of things, but even the president agrees with this one. Witness his recent town hall with the friendliest of friendly journalists: Sean Hannity. Hannity asked the president a softball political question, the one that should have a rock-solid, simple, memorized sound-bite-laden answer: What are the “top priority items for your second term?”
The President’s response? It’s long and rambling, but here’s a summary: Experience is still important. He didn’t travel a lot to Washington, D.C. before he became president. Now he knows a lot of people that he didn’t before. John Bolton was a mistake and he wanted to drop bombs on people.
Seriously. That was his answer. (https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/transcript-hannity-trump/)
This president will never be confused with a great orator and we all know that. But being unable to answer the simplest question, in the friendliest confines, with your greatest cheerleader? That’s inexcusable. Unless there simply isn’t an answer.
That is what we’ve learned over the last four years. This isn’t chess or checkers; either would take too much planning. It’s simply a series of the in-the-moment calculations about what to be “against” to rile up a crowd of people all-too-willing to be sheep. There is no answer because there are no priorities.
Don’t believe me? Go back to the start of this presidency. Donald Trump and his allies controlled the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. They could have done ANYTHING at that point and had an unchecked opportunity to enact their agenda. What did they do? Build the wall? Change healthcare for the better? Negotiate trade deals? Buttress the middle class? Nope.
They passed a huge tax cut that benefitted the wealthy and drove up the national debt. That’s the only legislative accomplishment after being completely in control for two years. It’s a laughably paltry scorecard for a perfect legislative scenario.
Oh, and they managed to move that hurricane to Alabama, I guess.
This would be like having the 97–98 Bulls playing your high school team and winning by 4 after sinking some last-minute free throws to ice it. Or having James Bond only narrowly escaping the rookie bad guy fresh out of Henchman School.
The only solace that most of us can take from this presidency is that incompetence has often trumped advantage. The administration has been so bad at actually governing that many of the more deleterious plans never materialized. They couldn’t take healthcare away from tens of millions of people. They couldn’t legislate away a woman’s right to choose. They couldn’t manage to build more than three miles of wall. And yet, the damage to the office of the President seems lasting.
In four years, we have seen the Un-Doing in virtually every aspect of this president’s tenure. Societal norms? Un-Done. Respect for Allies? Un-Done. Debt Management? Un-Done. Civil Rights? Un-Done. Environmental Protection? Un-Done. Caring for Others? Un-Done.
If there is one thing that Donald Trump will be remembered for, it’s this: In his own delusional efforts to make America great again, he made America far worse.
However, the American public still has one more chance in November: The Un-Doing of Donald Trump.