President Donald Trump seems to have spent his first 97 days in near-constant motion.
If he’s not tweeting about something or hosting members of Congress at the White House, he’s huddled with a foreign leader at Mar-a-Lago or putting his John Hancock on some executive action or order.
Or boasting about how much he’s gotten done. “No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days,” Trump said earlier this month.
The truth is more nuanced and less favorable to Trump. Yes, Trump has been moving almost non-stop for his first 97 days as president. But, movement is not accomplishment. And, any analysis of Trump’s first 97 days makes clear there has been much more of the former and much less of the latter.
Consider this: The single, large-scale accomplishment of the Trump administration to date is the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Now, that is a biggie. Gorsuch will likely remain on the Court for decades to come.
But, aside from the Court nomination, there’s precious little that Trump has pro-actively accomplished on his agenda. He has signed two dozen executive orders and issued a series of presidential proclamations. By and large, those moves are aimed at rolling back initiatives begun under his predecessor President Barack Obama – with a particular focus on the environment – not on proactively pushing Trump’s broader agenda. (An argument can – and will – be made by Trump forces that in undoing a series of Obama-era regulations, Trump has accomplished a great deal.)
Then there is the fact that Trump’s broadest and most high profile executive order – the so-called “travel ban” – has been in legal limbo almost since its inception. While Trump took a second crack at re-writing it – dropping Iraq as a country from which all travelers would be banned – it remains tied up in legal wrangling and there appears to be no near-term timetable under which it will be implemented.
There also looks to be an extended legal fight brewing over Trump’s move to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities – following a federal district judge’s decision Tuesday night to block that effort.
On the legislative front, Trump has been almost entirely stymied. The White House’s push to pass legislation to reform and replace the Affordable Care Act never even made it to a House floor vote due to a revolt within the GOP ranks. Promises made by Trump – and his White House allies – that a new and improved health care bill is about to be re-introduced hasn’t come to fruition yet. And significant doubts seem to remain within the Republican conference that a solution exists on healthcare that could secure a majority of the majority in the House.
The crisis of a government shutdown – which would happen if Congress can’t pass a bill to fund the government by midnight Friday – appears to be less than likely. But that’s only because Trump backed off his demand that $1.4 billion in funding for the border wall be included in any spending bill. Funding for the wall, which Trump insists will be built, will have to wait.
Trump’s long-awaited tax plan, which he will debut on Wednesday, seems very light on specifics – most notably how his tax cuts will be paid for – and is sure to run into resistance among the deficit hawks within his own party.
Trump has been most active in foreign policy over his first 97 days. But again, action doesn’t necessarily equal accomplishment.
Trump reversed his view of Syria following President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical attack on his own people – targeting nearly five dozen Tomahawk missiles at the airbase believed to be the launching point for the attacks. But there has been very little follow-up to those missile strikes – either militarily or from a policy perspective.
In regard to North Korea, Trump has been aggressive in his rhetoric. But,the mistake over the location of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, which the President seemed to imply was steaming toward the Korean peninsula in response to North Korea’s aggression but wound up 3,500 miles away on a training mission, seemed to undercut the attempt at forceful message-sending. Trump has asserted that China will be far more willing to help contain North Korea than they have been in the past but that seems based largely on his surprisingly friendly relationship developed with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a two-day visit to Mar-a-Lago.
Viewed broadly and without spin, Trump’s first 97 days have largely been defined by often-frenetic movement with relatively few actual results or deliverables to show for it. Movement is a hallmark of Trump’s presidential personality. To date, results aren’t.