Maybe Trump is Beginning to Understand the Job
April 14, 2017
By Arturo Castañares – Publisher and CEO
New presidential administrations are usually graded by their performance during the first 100 days in office, from staffing choices to policy initiatives. Within the first 100 days, most new presidents have settled into the job and started making progress toward their agendas.
Donald Trump made many bold promises during the campaign about what he would accomplish in office, not only in the first 100 days, but many on “Day One”.
Some promises were easy to fulfill. Announce the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Done. A lifetime ban of White House officials lobbying for foreign governments after they leave office. Done. Threaten American companies with heavy tariffs if they exported jobs. Done.
But many of Trump’s controversial (and popular with his right-wing base) promises may prove to be difficult, if not impossible to fulfill, and even Trump himself may now be coming to that realization.
Donald Trump, of course, was an outsider candidate with no prior government experience. That should have been a detriment, if not a disqualifier, for a candidate for President. Trump, however, embraced the anti-establishment candidacy and advocated politically-provocative positions, including calling NATO obsolete, labeling China as a currency manipulator, and threatening to take unilateral action against North Korea.
Trump criticized U.S. generals, said our military was outgunned by our adversaries, encouraged WikiLeaks to dump stolen emails, and even complimented Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump seemed to enjoy championing positions directly contrary to America’s interests. And his most common attacks were aimed at repealing Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
When Trump was elected, many feared what such a rogue person would do from the Oval Office in the White House. Trump’s early moves to hire Steve Bannon, a nationalist troublemaker, and his appointment of controversial politicians like Jeff Sessions only added to the concerns.
Within days of entering office, Trump and Republicans in Congress set out to fulfill their common goal of repealing Obamacare. Quick to draft a bill that no one had an opportunity to read, Trump assumed passing a bill through Congress would be easy. But the political novice soon found that a simple political promise is much more difficult to craft into legislation that can muster the necessary votes to pass, even when Republicans control both houses of Congress.
The Obamacare repeal bill was so unpopular that it was never even put up for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, an utter defeat for the new president. And a tough lesson, too.
Since taking office only 83 days ago, Trump has now either softened or completely reversed course on several positions he staked out during the campaign. Trump had often praised Putin, criticized Obama for considering intervention in the on-going Syria civil war, and pushed China to take care of North Korea.
Just last week, though, after meeting face-to-face with Chinese President Xi, Trump announced that he had learned now complicated the relationship between China and North Korea, saying he learned within 10 minutes of meeting Xi that China couldn’t simply push North Korea into submission.
Same goes for Trump’s criticism of NATO. During the campaign, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and said the U.S. shouldn’t support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization because member countries weren’t paying their fair share for their own protection. Now, after Secretary of State Tillerson met with Putin in Moscow this week, Trump declared that NATO is “no longer obsolete”.
And probably most famously, Trump seemed to have a long-distance bromance with Putin, praising the Russian leader for his strong leadership in dealing with neighboring countries, and ignoring the fact that Putin has annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine. Trump even said he would improve relations with Russia when he was elected.
This week, however, Trump announced that he thought U.S.-Russian relations were at “an all-time low” after Russia vetoed a United Nations resolution against Syria after that country used poison gas against innocent civilians.
In the past two weeks, Donald Trump seems to have begun to realize the gravity of being President. The leader of the free world isn’t a title to be taken lightly. For nearly two years, candidate Trump was able to say flippant things, make unsubstantiated claims, and be against just about everything the U.S. government was doing.
But, now, in the role of President, the former reality star has been confronted with the complicated realities of governing. His words have consequences, as he is learning, and he must now shoulder the responsibility of leading the U.S., and arguably, the world.
Maybe Donald Trump is beginning to grasp the enormity of his new role, and is starting to take the job seriously.
That would be good for the country, and good for the world.