President Donald Trump is coming to the end of his first 100 days in office, and everyone has an opinion about his performance. We asked CNN contributors and analysts to weigh on the good, the bad and the what comes next of Trump’s first 100 days. The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of the authors.
Jennifer Granholm: With a ‘honeymoon’ like this, divorce can’t come soon enough
Donald Trump promised to complete 103 agenda items during his first 100 days in office. Of those, he has completed six — all aided by his executive-decree powers. That’s an F grade by any measure.
The first 100 days are supposed to be a honeymoon for the new president to start accomplishing his or her priorities. A honeymoon as bad as Trump’s is a big red flag that the marriage isn’t going to be any good, either.
Despite his self-aggrandized deal making “abilities,” Trump has failed to convince his own Republican-controlled Congress to pass a single piece of legislation that he promised in his “Contract with the American Voter” for the first 100 days - not one. His major executive orders are being blocked by courts. The Republican replacement plan for Obamacare would rip away health care from 26 million Americans and cause premiums for those with preexisting conditions to explode. Trump is saber-rattling us into another war. His budget slashes funding for everything from arts and research funding to after school programs to Meals on Wheels to food for poor women, infants, and children. His tax plan is a massive gift to millionaires and billionaires, paid for with trillions in debt to China.
In contrast, President Obama fulfilled substantial achievements in his ambitious first 100 days. With the backing of Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, Democrats laid the groundwork for the economic recovery that led to more than 15 million new jobs, saved the auto industry, took steps to protect equal pay for equal work in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, provided 4 million children with health insurance, and passed a federal budget reflecting our ideals – all major pieces of legislation that had significant, positive impact on the lives of Americans.
Presidents Obama and Trump both realize that the first 100 days of a new president’s administration are critical because the first three months, in theory and in practice, are when she or he is at their most popular and able to use that political clout to accomplish things. Ronald Reagan’s first 100 days gave him a 68 percent approval rating, George W. Bush’s approval was 62 percent, and Barack Obama’s approval was at 65 percent. Donald Trump is at a meager 40 percent approval – the most unpopular 100-day president in history.
In other words, Trump’s honeymoon is the worst we’ve seen in modern times.
As we take stock of President Trump’s honeymoon, his first 100 days are a window into the damage he could do in the next 100 days, and the next 100 after that. The marriage looks rocky. Divorce, in this case, can’t come soon enough.
Jennifer Granholm is the former governor and former attorney general of Michigan and a CNN contributor.
Rick Santorum: I hope the president has learned that knowledge is king
Let me begin by throwing cold water on the next 200 words: The first hundred days paradigm is a concoction of the Washington chattering class. That said, I’ll play the parlor game and give you my report card of President Trump’s first hundred days.
The greatest victory of President Trump’s first hundred days is without a doubt the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. The promise of a strict constructionist justice to replace Antonin Scalia is why many hesitant conservatives voted for a candidate they did not fully embrace. On this count, Donald Trump reassured the skeptical and helped shaped not the next 100 days, but the next generation of American jurisprudence.
As for losses, everyone points to health reform. Indeed, Trump did lose the first battle principally because he delegated the bill drafting to the Congress, then tried to pass Speaker Ryan’s failed bill. The President was a quick study and learned the policy as the bill was being renegotiated, but it was too late. I hope the president has learned knowledge is king in Washington. The President needs to understand the complexities of this and other issues so he can shape the battlefield and lead the charge instead of trying to rally soldiers in full retreat.
Grade: solid B
Rick Santorum is a former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania and a contributor to CNN.
Errol Louis: Trump missed the honeymoon because there was never a marriage
President Trump’s low public approval numbers suggest that the early-term honeymoon is already over. Only 44% of adult Americans approve of his performance so far, with 54% disapproving – by far the worst numbers of any president at this point in his term since modern polling began.
Trump missed the honeymoon because there was never a marriage. Instead of reaching out to Democratic leaders in Congress or trying to woo supporters of Hillary Clinton, Trump spent much of his first three months antagonizing Democrats on social media, scrambling to organize his staff and squelch nagging questions about Russian interference in the 2016 elections. That didn’t leave much time or energy to focus on his main agenda items.
It’s telling that the Trump’s top aides who appear to be getting the most done are the men with substantial Washington experience, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who spent a dozen years in the Justice Department and a decade as a senator on Capitol Hill.
While Beltway newcomers like Treasury chief Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of State Tillerson have stumbled out of the gate, Sessions has made aggressive moves to curb funding for sanctuary cities and review Obama-era consent decrees and other reforms.
Trump’s single best move for the future will be to tone down the anti-Democratic antagonism by staging meaningful blue-state visits and policy speeches aimed at core Democratic constituencies, including women, blacks, Latinos, and young people. It’s never too late to hope for a honeymoon.
Errol Louis is a CNN political commentator and the host of “Inside City Hall,” a nightly political show on NY1, a New York all-news channel.
SE Cupp: Until his supporters care, what we say about Trump matters very little
It’s clear by most any metric, President Trump’s first 100 days in office have amounted to a fairly anemic success record. But as a limited government conservative, I’m hardly disappointed. That the era of big government programs, sweeping reform and overreach has seemingly come to an abrupt halt – whether by design or default – is nothing to mourn.
For those of us who never thought Trump could make good on many of his promises – to rip up various “bad deals” on day 1, to replace Obamacare quickly, to build a wall that Mexico pays for, to stamp out ISIS easily – our measure of his first few months is irrelevant. Nor does it really matter what his critics on the left and in the media think of how he’s doing. All that matters is whether or not his supporters approve.
And by that measurement, he’s doing just fine. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, Trump’s approval is at record lows. But among his supporters? Ninety-six percent say they would vote for him again. That is a staggering figure, considering how few promises he’s managed to keep. Further, the poll indicates that if the election were held today, he could beat Hillary Clinton again and win the popular vote.
The pundit class can hem and haw all it wants about how earth-shattering it is that Trump’s accomplished so little in his first 100 days. And it’s inarguable that he has. But until his supporters care, our assessments matter little.
S.E. Cupp is an HLN host of a prime-time program covering contemporary issues and a CNN political commentator.
Van Jones: This sin will prove hardest to forgive
100 years from now, Americans will have harsh words about Trump’s first 100 days. But no day will more represent the lasting damage than day 89.
That is really saying something. After all, this president is embroiled in scandal, from Russia’s undue influence to business conflicts of interest. He has tried and failed three times to ban Muslims from America. Turnout at protests dwarfed his meager inaugural crowd. His hand-picked attorney general perjured himself and has pushed outdated criminal justice policies opposed by many in both parties. Nominees have withdrawn, his close ally Michael Flynn resigned in disgrace, and health care went down in flames in the face of town hall outrage.
In fact, Sen. Mitch McConnell can claim more credit for the sole bright spot for Republicans – now Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch – than can Trump.
But on Tuesday, April 18 – day 89 – scientists recorded the first carbon dioxide reading above 410 parts per million. On that day, one thing became clear: the potentially catastrophic impact of Trump’s decision to single out the Environmental Protection Agency for the greatest budget cuts of any agency. Now is the worst time for a US president to deny the reality of climate science. Of all his sins, this one will prove the hardest to forgive.
Grade: F minus (the minus is because he let down his own followers, too)
Van Jones is a CNN political commentator.
Kayleigh McEnany: A truly post-partisan president
Buried beneath the salacious headlines is the portrait of a president who has defied his party, not only in word but in action. Tax credits for health care, preservation of preexisting conditions provisions and withdrawing from free trade deals combine to tell the story of a president who puts people before party.
Despite initial blips with the temporary travel halt and health care, President Trump is well on his way to changing his party and country. Trump is truly a post-partisan president.
Kayleigh McEnany is a CNN commentator and a contributor to The Hill.
Aaron David Miller: What Trump has learned – and not learned – so far
There’s a lot you can do in 100 days: begin taking guitar lessons, lose weight or start an exercise program.
But the 100-day metric really can’t tell you much about what kind of foreign policy president Donald Trump might become.
It is a useful indicator of whether he’s learning anything on the job. Here are my takeaways of the learned and unlearned – so far:
Campaigning was fun. But I can’t run foreign policy that way. I’ve changed my views on almost every issue – from scuttling the Iran nuclear accord to declaring NATO obsolete to questioning the value of the One China policy – and tacked back to more traditional positions in line with Obama and the Republican party establishment, too. The question now is can my administration develop not positions but policies to navigate a complex world.
Foreign policy isn’t the real estate business; I need help. This foreign policy stuff is harder than I thought. I really needed adult supervision; and, I’m getting it from Mattis; McMaster; Tillerson. I actually listen to them – most of the time.
America first doesn’t mean America only. I can’t just beat up or bully other nations. I may actually need their help, like China on North Korea; who knows maybe even NATO. And I ‘m still looking to do a deal with that guy Putin.
I’m still Donald Trump. And I intend to continue tweeting and saying all kinds of inappropriate things that will confuse and worry our allies and hurt US credibility. Just today I retweeted Nigel Farage’s criticism of Emmanuel Macron. I sure hope that Le Pen lady wins.
Grade: “Incomplete minus”
Aaron David Miller is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He was also a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations.
Jen Psaki: Trump’s biggest failure is not reaching out
Washington, D.C. is the only place in the country that marks the lead up to the first 100 days of a presidency with such fanfare. But this short period of time does give a hint as to how any president will approach his time in office. How he will govern and lead the country.
Despite the fact that Trump has not passed a single piece of significant legislation, has proposed a health-care bill that would leave tens of millions without access, his supporters are loyal and they appear to be sticking with him.
But governing is not about just speaking to your hardcore supporters, it is about reaching out to the entire country. And of all of the ups and downs of the first 100 downs, that is his biggest failure.
Jen Psaki, a CNN political commentator and spring fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service, served as the White House communications director and State Department spokeswoman during the Obama administration.
Alice Stewart: It’s a work in progress
If you lay down a marker in Gettysburg, you need to mean it. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln made meaningful history addressing freedom, equality and unity in Gettysburg; in 2016, President Trump outlined his 100-day action plan to “Make America Great Again” – it’s safe to say that’s a work in progress.
To date, President Trump has followed through on policy initiatives by signing executive orders, but has yet to achieve meaningful legislative success.
President Trump’s five biggest accomplishments include:
1. Following through on his commitment to confirm a Scalia-like justice with Justice Neil Gorsuch;
2. Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership;
3. Moving forward with construction of the Keystone Pipeline;
4. Reducing federal regulations;
5. Curtailing funding to Planned Parenthood.
Five most significant unfulfilled promises:
1. Repealing and replacing Obamacare;
2. Providing “the biggest tax cut since Ronald Reagan” (he’s provided some ideas in this direction, but it’s unclear how he intends to organize and get a plan passed by Congress);
3. Labeling China a currency manipulator;
4. Building a wall that Mexico will pay for;
5. Suspending visas from “terror prone regions.”
While President Trump’s road to the White House was paved with good intentions; it’s time to make inroads on legislative accomplishments. I expect the second 100 days to include progress in health care and tax reform. It’s clear; President Trump has learned that governing is more difficult than campaigning.
Alice Stewart is a CNN political commentator and former communications director for Ted Cruz for President.
Michael D’Antonio: Willing to be presidential, but sometimes beneath his office
We saw the best of the Donald Trump presidency when he met with China’s President Xi Jinping and then announced that suddenly China was not a currency manipulator. This announcement, amid worsening tensions with North Korea, showed Trump was willing to be presidential and pursue the interest of the nation and the world by abandoning a campaign slogan.
Likewise, Trump’s recognition that NATO is not obsolete demonstrated he could play well with others. His worst moment came with his unsubstantiated tweet alleging that President Obama tapped the phones at Trump Tower.
This was a destructive and self-defeating use of his old rope-a-dope tactic, intended to confuse and distract the press and public. It was beneath his office.
Grade: A gentleman’s C-, below average but above failing
Michael D’Antonio is the author of the book “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success” (St. Martin’s Press).
Yascha Mounk: The gap between Trump’s words and actions matters most
If you look at Donald Trump’s words over the last 100 days, all of the worst fears have come true. After an unorthodox inaugural address, Trump continued to break every basic democratic norm: He has spread “alternative facts,” railed against “so-called” judges, and called major news outlets “enemies of the American people.”
The presidency has not made Donald Trump more presidential.
If you look at Donald Trump’s actions over the last 100 days, by contrast, the record is much more mixed. I strongly disagree with Trump on many of his policies, from immigration to health care. But he has also seemed to moderate on key issues, including NATO and his relationship with key allies.
More importantly, he has so far respected the independence of institutions even as he has loudly criticized them. Instead of vowing to disobey the Ninth Circuit’s rulings against his executive orders, for example, he merely tweeted: “See you in the Supreme Court!”
Looking forward, a lot will depend on whether or not Trump starts to act on his rhetoric. If his extreme statements will continue to be but so much hot air, important democratic norms will continue to take a beating, but the worst damage will be avoided. But if Trump starts to walk his scary talk, the next four years could get a lot worse than the first 100 days have been.
Yascha Mounk is the author of the new book, “The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State.”
Steve Israel: On Day 101, Trump needs to reach across the aisle
The best decisions Trump made in his first 100 days were nominating Gen. Mattis as defense secretary and replacing Michael Flynn with Gen. McMaster as National Security Adviser. In a volatile and complex security environment, having strategic and experienced leaders like McMaster and Mattis within the administration is reassuring.
They are, unfortunately, the exception to the rule. President Trump has reneged on one of his most basic and important campaign promises, which was to “drain the swamp.” Between the investigations into Russia’s involvement in the election; surrounding himself with people like Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos; refusing to release his taxes and restricting access to the White House visitors’ logs, the swamp has become a sewer.
As Day 101 approaches, President Trump must begin to reach across the aisle, not only to Democrats in Congress, who he will need in order to pass legislation to keep the government functioning – but to regular Americans who did not vote for him.
There is still a large portion of the American public that feel alienated by him and the rhetoric and policies he has advanced. If he wants to be a successful leader, he doesn’t need everyone’s support, but he needs more people in his corner than the members of the Freedom Caucus.
Finally, remember this: No Member of Congress cares about a president’s first 100 days. They’re focused on the last 100 days before their midterm elections. And right now, for many Republicans, those days are getting dark.
Former US Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York, is chairman of the Global Institute at Long Island University and a CNN contributor.
Jeffrey Lord: Napoleon would be jealous
Somewhere Napoleon is wistful.
Exiled to Elba, he escaped his island prison in 1815, marching on Paris. The Congress of Vienna declared him an outlaw, armies massed, and Napoleon soon met his Waterloo.
This period of turbulent French history immediately acquired a name: “les Cent Jours” - the Hundred Days. Over a century later, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in the middle of the Great Depression, the press of the day resurrected the term to describe the whirlwind of activity that was the opening act of FDR’s New Deal. Fairly or unfairly, the term has been applied to every president since.
Now, it’s President Trump’s turn. While the President calls the measurement “ridiculous,” the White House has still put out volumes listing accomplishments. A Supreme Court appointment has been his best achievement. The new Justice Gorsuch will presumably be there for decades as a conservative.
There are 24 executive orders on the Trump list, with seriously important ones such as green-lighting the Keystone Pipeline. Military action in Syria is certainly on the list. Health care will come, but not by the 100-day deadline. But there will still be 1,341 days to go in Trump’s term. Napoleon could only wish for that much time.
Grade: Thanks to the health care delay, an A-
Jeffrey Lord is a CNN political commentator. Previously, he served in the Reagan administration as a White House political adviser.
Sally Kohn: Still sad
CNN asked me to write 100 words that describe Donald Trump’s first 100 days. Here they are:
Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Diddly. Squat. Nought. Zippo. Zot. Negatory. Nada. Nil. Nix. Nyet. Hot air. Nothingburger. Goose egg. Broken promises. Empty promises. Also: Calamitous. Irresponsible. Inexperienced. Unprepared. Undisciplined. Uninformed. Unimproved. Unpopular. Bumbling. Embarrassing. Flimsy. Flailing. Failing. Harmful. Hurtful. Hateful. Shortsighted. Half-baked. Irrelevant. Puny. Piddling. Paltry. Petty. Immature. Infantile. Impulsive. Trite. Tiresome. Stale. Superficial. Small. Meager. Impotent. Limp. Obstructive. Destructive. Damaging. Distracted. Despised. Backwards. Reckless. Bumbling. Bungling. Blind. Arrogant. Rude. Mean. Tacky. Trigger happy. Evasive. LYING. Vacuous. Vapid. Vacant. Vacationing. Meaningless. Frivolous. Oblivious. Sloppy. Silly. Empty. Outvoted. Overruled. Overturned. Null. Void. Inane. Inept. Negligent. Negligible. Naïve. Juvenile. Trivial. Disappointing. Underwhelming. And sad.
And PS – the next 100 days, and even 1,000 days, don’t look much better. Trump has so far shown he doesn’t have the patience to translate any of his bluster into action and, meanwhile, keeps hurting America’s standing in the world with his petty short tempered arrogance. Still sad.
Sally Kohn is an activist, columnist and CNN political commentator.
Salena Zito: Accomplishments are in the eyes of the beholder
Donald J. Trump’s presidency is under the microscope by the press for his accomplishments in his first 100 days in office; for my profession, his measurement is taken by the campaign promises that he pledged during the 2016 campaign.
But for voters who supported him, that measurement was always going to be different. As Brad Todd once noted and I reported, voters took his rhetoric seriously, but not literally.
The press took every word literally and his candidacy not very seriously.
If you are judging his presidency by his literal use of words – something he does casually and without the same meaning as journalists or traditional politicians – he has fallen behind on his pledge on a number of things; reforming Obamacare, the travel restrictions from countries with known terrorist activities and building a wall between the US and Mexico.
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But if you voted for him you view his actions differently. Voters have told me in hundreds of interviews across the country that they understand that negotiations take time on Capitol Hill (health care, the wall, the budget), that activist judges have always been a thorn in every president’s side (travel restriction executive order and sanctuary cities).
Their view of his accomplishments is optimistic; they are thrilled that he is constantly meeting with company executives, union and trade groups and car manufacturers. They like his executive orders on regulations, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and his willingness to hold open discussion with the leaders of China and Egypt.
Accomplishments are in the eyes of the beholder and voters are willing to give the president time to accomplish his goals as long as he is viewed as rolling up his sleeves and fighting for them and their community’s needs.
Washington will always measure him differently – essentially because he is so disruptive to the status quo, does not view the political class with the same chumminess that other presidents have and he does not value words with the same reverence that they do.
Grade: Voters who supported him give him an A
Salena Zito is a CNN contributor and national political reporter for the Washington Examiner.