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Rough and tough: President Trump’s first hundred days
By Daniel M. Ryan
When looking back at President Trump’s first hundred days as President, it’s hard not to think of his description of New York contractors in Art of the Deal. Receiving only a glimmer of the customary honeymoon accorded to new Presidents, President Trump has learned how rough and tough the swamp creatures can be. He found out the hard way that Presidents have a lot more leeway in foreign policy than in domestic policy. Most of what he’s accomplished, and there has been a lot, has been through Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda. As for instruments from Congress, most of them he signed have been House Joint Resolutions nullifying egregious regulations. The person who discovered that the Congressional Review Act could be used to shoot down those economy-hobbling regs deserves a real pat on the back.
One of his main promises, repeal and replace of Obamacare, has been stymied by the Republican Congress not being able to get its act together. The first attempt, tilted towards the moderates, failed because the Congressional Freedom Caucus refused to get behind it. The second, which did get the support of the Caucus, was shelved because the moderate Tuesday Caucus balked. This two-strike trouble, for which Speaker Ryan is receiving the bulk of the blame, does point to a problem in the Pubbie ranks. It shows that the Republican Party has become something like a holding company overseeing two different parties. This division shouldn’t be exaggerated; the Pubbies are not on the verge of sundering into two. But it is there, and Obamacare-repeal does show that it’s put some sand in the gears.
That’s only one of two obstructionisms President Trump has had to grapple with; arguably, it’s the minor one. The arguably major one has been an alliance of the Democrats, certain judges and the so-called Deep State to thwart President Trump’s agenda. The first group has shot down President Trump’s budget, necessitating a stopgap spending bill to avoid a shutdown. Most of President Trump’s Cabinet appointments have been confirmed with an essentially party-line vote. Betsy deVos only became Secretary of Education because Vice-President Pence broke a tie vote in the Senate. Despite receiving unanimous confirmation for his spot in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006, Neil Gorsuch got confirmed by a party-line vote in which the nuclear option was invoked. The trouble the Dems have given President Trump only serves to reinforce the Conservative cynicism about “compromise:” compromising with a prog is like Charlie Brown once again kicking at the football Lucy’s holding.
“So does stupidity.” The Dems can argue that they’re just dishing out to President Trump what Obama got served by Senator Cruz et. al., but this “stupidity” - being taken advantage of – goes back far longer. At a minimum, the Pubbies have been manoeuvred to knuckle under to the Dems ever since the New Left squeezed the Republicans, through love of country, into supporting the foreign policy of the Lyndon Johnson administration. Whether it be supporting Dem foreign policy or refusing out of high principle to give the Dems a taste of their own cooking, we’re left with a picture of a Republican Party that punches well below its weight. It’s actually hard to believe that the Pubbies have the House, the Senate, 33 governorships, 35 State Senates, 31 State Houses out of fifty: a thin majority in the U.S. Senate and solid majorities everywhere else.
Incredibly: despite that solid-red dominance, the Pubbies can credibly claim to be the underdog party!
Adding to the credibility is the resistance of the second group, liberal judges. No less than three of President Trump’s Executive Orders have been blocked by provably liberal judges, on legal grounds that appear suspiciously abstruse. Two of the orders, to block entry into the United States from seven countries fingered by the Obama Administration as trouble spots, clearly fall under the purview of the President as authorized by Congress. They were shot down on the grounds of inferred “anti-Muslim” sentiment, even though the most populous Islamic country – Indonesia – was glaringly absent from the list. Saudi Arabia, the country in which Mecca is located, wasn’t included either. (That’s like a purported anti-Papist restriction that lets the Vatican skate.) As for the third shoot-down, of an Executive Order to halt federal funding to sanctuary cities, you’d think that the Supremacy Clause was sufficiently relevant to let the Order go through. It certainly was when the Obama Administration invoked it against Arizona’s SB-1070!
Whether out of abstrusity or covert scale-tipping partisanship, or of using the former to conceal the latter, those judges have only added to the political paradox of our time: a clearly dominant party electorally whose President’s reforms have been shot down as if the other party held the reins.
The third group, the so-called Deep State, has also caused its share of trouble. The prolongation of the ridiculous “Putin swayed the election” excuse for Hillary’s defeat is only one example of the “opposition in residence.” The glaringly disparate treatment of the illegal leaking of Gen Flynn’s private conversation with the Russian ambassador is another example.
With all of this obstructionism, not to mention the almost unrelenting negative slanting of coverage by every mainstream media outlet aside from Fox News plus the hysterical anti-Trumpism in the academy, it is encouraging that President Trump has managed to: loosen up on Obamacare’s coerciveness; approve the Keystone XL and Dakota pipelines; institute a five-year ban on former Administration officials that prevents them from lobbying and a lifetime ban on them lobbying for a foreign government; take a real bite out of the overregulatory State; take steps to rein in HB-1 visa abuse; implement pro-life policies like reinstating the Mexico City policy and reversing an Obama order that forced the states to fund Planned Parenthood; jolting Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA by threatening to pull out; cancelling the Trans-Pacific Partnership; loosening restrictions on drilling for new oil; push The Wall to the point where firms are submitting bids to build test walls that Homeland Security will inspect; and other achievements. Most notably right now, co-operating with China to rein in an increasingly dangerous North Korea plus imposing harsher sanctions on both Kim Jong-Il’s nuthouse and Iran.
It should also be remembered that illegal-immigrant border crossing have plummeted to the lowest level in seventeen years.
You Gotta Have Heart
Admittedly, the above sketch of #TheResistance does look like a holler-list of complaints. In one sense, it is. But in another more important sense, it provides good reason to take heart.
I noted above that the Dems’ resist-at-all-costs has made it plausible to argue that the clearly dominant party is in fact the underdog. Not because reasons, but because President Trump has been routinely stymied even at times when he indicates that he’ll compromise. There was a point when he said that he’d go easy on Obamacare subsidies if enough Dems agreed to fund the Wall. Interestingly, the Dems remained adamant.
Adamant to the point where they’ve become plain stubborn.
The main reason why Pubbie complaints haven’t been widely pooh-poohed as whining is because the Democrats are acting like they’re still the dominant party. Their stubbornness is clearly rooted in outraged superiority: in a kind of entitlement mentality. Despite libs like Thomas Frank continually pounding the table to get them back to the bread-and-butter politics of old, they insist on their identity-politics luxury causes. They still act like they believe in their hearts that Republican dominance is a temporary aberration that will be whisked away once Joe Lunchbucket “comes to his senses.” They really are that arrogant. When they think about their woes at all, they resort to the same list of self-excusing rationales ranging from gerrymandering to Mr. Lunchbucket not knowing what’s good for him.
In a very real way, the antifa goons are a revealing parody of the Democrats. As has been made very clear last week, the antifa crazies are bullies who pull back when they sense that the authorities won’t coddle them and when they’re stood up to. I can’t find any better example of their echo-chambery self-delusion than this site. The sight of a site claiming to speak for rednecks but peddling the same antifa garbage is so unhinged, I seriously wondered if it were a donation scam. From what I’ve been able to discover, it isn’t.
In a similar vein, Dems – particularly the prog wing – really does believe that Joe Hillbilly’s “real interests” consist of allying with the coastal elites and playing the intersectionality game.
It’s this out-of-it aspect of the prog wing that gives reason to tough through the frustrations of President Trump’s first hundred days. True: President Trump has shown some recent signs of “growing in office” by letting China off the hook, bombing Syria and saying sympathetic things about DACA. It’s also true that the Pubbies in Congress are having trouble getting their act together. But the unhingedness of the Dems shows that in a real way they’re flying blind. As with antifa, it’s only a matter of time before they crack.
We knew going in that President Trump was not going to be perfect. If he is “growing in office,” he’s done so a lot later than any professional politician. The hundred days has included some disappointments, some frustrations, but overall President Trump has done well. As Breitbart explains, he’s done better than Obama did in his own first hundred days. This, despite the fact that President Trump is the first President with zero political or military experience.
Draining the swamp is hard, and conservatives definitely have gotten something from the Flight 93 Election. More hearteningly, the Dems have descended from arrogance to stubbornness. Both give hope that President Trump’s first hundred days will not be the high point but the prelude. Strange as it may sound, there’s real reason for long-term optimism.
At the very least, we can get a smile from President Trump proclaiming May Day to be Loyalty Day!
Daniel M. Ryan, as Nxtblg, is shepherding the independently-run Open Audi Initiative Prediction Market Shadowing Project. He has stubbornly assumed all the responsibility and blame for the workings and outcome of the project.