On January 20th, 2017, to the horror and shock of people around the world, former reality star Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the President of the United States of America. Trump has proceeded to flail his way to the lowest approval ratings of any president in modern history, with only 40% of the country approving of his job. What follows is a brief overview of the failures and missteps, as well as the few successes, that have occurred in the first hundred days:
Trump, during his first full day in office following his inauguration, decides that continuing to lie about how large the crowd sizes at his inauguration were is a good idea, despite overwhelming evidence that more people attended former President Obama’s inauguration. He decides to do this when standing in front of the C.I.A.’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes, a monument which is dedicated to the memory of agents killed in service to our country. This act was, to quote Nick Shapiro, former Chief of Staff to the former C.I.A. director, a “despicable display of self-aggrandizement.”
Obama’s Inauguration (Left) and Trump’s (Right) (NPS via Washington Post) [There is a time difference between the photos, but as the Post says, “the 2009 and 2017 photos were taken one hour — and eight years — apart, with Obama’s crowds massing in the photo about one hour earlier than Trump’s audience.”]
Trump signs a meaningless executive order that he says will begin the creation of the “Wall.” It does not, and the “Wall” will most likely never happen. This act means nothing because, in order for these funds to be used to build the Wall, Congress must approve of them and put them in the budget. Congress has not and will not do this (more on that later). Even if we assume they build the Wall, all it would do is damage the environment through the vast amounts of CO2 it would produce as well as having a “have a negative impact on “111 endangered species, 108 species of migratory birds, four wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, and an unknown number of protected wetlands.” It would also cost as much as $40 billion (and no, Mexico is not going to pay for it. To quote the former Mexican President, the Mexican people won’t pay “any single cent for such a stupid wall!” The current Mexican president has also weighed in, explicitly saying that “Mexico will not pay for any wall“). Even if you don’t care about that and only want the Wall because you don’t want illegal immigrants entering the United States, Gil Kerlikowske, the former Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said back in January that the current system is not only preferable to the Wall, but the Wall would be ineffective given the fact that the “vast majority of people trying to enter the US are actually showing up at border entry points and seeking asylum or turning themselves in. Most are not trying to scale the fence in the dark of night…”
Trump signs an executive order that is functionally a “Muslim Ban,” which he initially proposed on December 7, 2015, when he stated that he wanted a “complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States.” The goal of this ban was to in theory prevent terrorist attacks. However, an internal report from the DHS found that people from the seven nations from which travel was restricted posed no additional risk, making this order suffering for suffering’s sake (and if you are thinking this is the same thing Obama did, I encourage you to keep reading because I answer that under March 7th). In fact, Daniel Benjamin of Dartmouth College, formerly the State Department’s top counterterrorism official, stated that not only will the ban be ineffective, but that “many experts believe the order’s unintended consequences will make the threat worse.” This order drew condemnation from many commentators in the US, from leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and from religious leaders such as Bishop Vasquez, chairman of the USCCB’s committee on migration. Support did, however, come from despicable human beings such as white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor, former grand wizard of the KKK David Duke and actual crazy person/conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. ISIS was also super pumped about the ban, using it as an example of how the West is at war with Islam, a narrative they push in order to increase recruitment.
Trump fires then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates following her refusal to support this unconstitutional mess of an executive order. Yates’ refusal to support the ban due to her belief that it is unconstitutional due to its attack on the establishment clause of the Constitution has proven correct multiple times over since multiple judges from around the country have put a freeze on the ban’s enforcement, with the most recent ruling from Chief Justice Roger Gregory of the 4th Circuit Appeals Court saying, in the majority decision, that: “Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles — that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another,” … “Congress granted the president broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”
National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigns following the expose of his lies to Vice President Mike Pence about contact with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. These lies are particularly damning due to the topic of their conversation, which was the removal of Obama-era sanctions on Russia. Sally Yates would later reveal that the Justice Department repeatedly warned the Trump Administration of the potential for Michael Flynn to be susceptible to Russian blackmail, a warning that they outright ignored. The Pentagon inspector general has also announced, on April 17th, that Flynn is under investigation for accepting money from foreign entities without the required approval, with the foreign entities, in this case, being Russia and Turkey.
Flynn, speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention (NBC News)
Trump signs another executive order with the goal of making the “Muslim ban” (discussed above) a reality. This order is also struck down in the courts for its blatant violation of the Establishments clause (you may be starting to see the pattern, one that was recently backed up even further just this month). You may be saying to yourself, “This isn’t a Muslim ban because it only bans travel from six countries.” Well, the courts disagree with that view, with Judge Derrick Watson, one of judges who struck down the ban, stating that “equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries.” The Trump administration will attempt to use the same excuse it did in January that this is simply following through on Obama era orders in 2011. This is a boldface lie. They have referred to two different Obama era actions in this excuse, neither of which is Trump’s ban. The first order they are possibly referencing was increased screening of Iraqi refugees following reports of a credible threat. This was not the freeze on immigration that Trump attempted to pull off, it was not a ban on visa applications, and it does not prevent all citizens of that country, including green-card holders, from coming to the US, all of which are things Trump was trying to do. This issue of a credible threat is pretty damning to the Trump administration’s argument that the ban is needed for national security since, to date, they have failed to produce evidence of any terrorist attack coming that this order would stop. The second order they could be talking about was one that, to quote the Washington Post, was simply one that “wanted to require greater visa scrutiny of people who had traveled to those countries. When given a chance, the Obama administration specifically rejected the citizenship-based restrictions that Trump has now ordered.”
US Military Spending Compared to Next 8 Top Spenders (Peter G. Peterson Foundation)
Trump submits his budget blueprint, titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” This plan involves a $54 billion increase to military spending, also known as $54 billion dollars wasted due to the fact that America already spends more money on its military than the next 8 countries combined, a majority of whom are allies. They are attempting to get away with this by cutting funding to the EPA, cutting the National Institute of Health’s budget by close to 20%, and cutting combined spending for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by 29% , just to name a few. This budget, however, is meaningless given the fact that, to quote Marco Rubio, Congress does “the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.” (Congress, to elaborate on a point from above about the Wall, is not keen on funding the Wall at all. In fact, earlier in May when a bipartisan consensus was reached for a funding plan to keep the government running until the end of September, Congress made sure not to include a single dollar for the Wall. They did, however, put some of that money to good use by continuing to fund the women’s health care provider Planned Parenthood and give additional Medicaid money to poor people in Puerto Rico in order to help them get healthcare.)
A Breakdown of Trump’s Budget (Al Jazeera)
Trump attempts to force a vote on the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This fails, forcing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Trump to remove the bill from consideration because they were “gonna need congressional approval and… didn’t have the votes.” This is just one of many examples of how Trump, instead of being the great negotiator he frames himself as, is actually just a president who can’t actually effectively convince others and who holds no leverage over Congress or the House. (a different version of AHCA has since passed the House, but is expected to not pass in the Senate).
Trump goes back on his campaign promise to label China a currency manipulator (mainly because China is not). This, while a prime example of his failing to follow through on key campaign promises regarding his foreign policy, was a good idea since declaring the country that is increasingly able and willing to challenge the US in the East Asian region as well as on the international stage a “currency manipulator” would probably be a bad idea, since it would anger them in the process.
Trump tells Reuters that he “thought [being president] would be easier” than his former life. It is ridiculous that he even had this notion, given that his old life involved sticking his name on buildings other people built and getting paid for them using his name and his current one is the leader of the free world.
Trump, afraid of comedians at the White House’s Correspondents Dinner making fun of him, decides to instead host a campaign-like rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for his 100th day. Here, he rails against Obama and the media for impeding his progress (even though neither of those two currently have any power over what legislation is passed). His supporters also chant “lock her up”, a chant directed at Hillary Clinton (a person who also no longer holds any real relevance or political power. Because of this, this sentiment seems much more like something that belonged in the campaign when Clinton mattered than today.) because they have bought into theories that Hillary Clinton has committed a crime worthy of jail time.
Bill Nye the Science Guy at the March for Science (The New Yorker)
Following these disastrous first hundred days, I feel no more confident about the rest of Trump’s term than I did when Trump got inaugurated (and I am a left-leaning, liberal feminist who enjoys reading news sources that do not traffic in conspiracy theories [i.e. Seth Rich and Pizzagate] and have authors with qualifications, which according to people on the far right makes me the most gullible type of person in the world, so convincing me should have been easy). I honestly have no idea how people are still supporting Trump following this initial rollout. This isn’t even a right/left thing, with Republicans like John McCain and Evan McMullin as well as conservative intellectuals like David French opposing Trump. This isn’t even all of it. I did not have a chance to talk about the horrifying attacks Trump has engaged in against the Press in the form of his supporters and his labeling anything they disagree with as “Fake News”, his enabling of environmental destruction (especially climate change, which is the biggest threat humanity currently faces), the way that this administration lies (i.e. The Bowling Green Massacre, crowd sizes, Obama wiretapping Trump tower), their choosing to double-down on lies instead of capitulating to the overwhelming evidence that they lied, and the way that he has created a kakistocracy by managing to find just the absolute worst people to fill positions in his government (i.e. Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos), just to name a few things.
To leave on a positive note though, at a time when accountability is key, Trump’s administration has renewed political engagement that has emerged in frankly awesome displays of protest like the Women’s March and the March for Science, as well as people going to town halls and making representatives answer for their actions.
The Women’s March (Her Campus/Drexel)