It’s no secret that Trump wasn’t my favorite presidential candidate. I started back in December of 2015, when I wrote about playing the Trump card. I covered the Colorado primary debacle, and in the election eventually didn’t vote for either Hillary or Trump because I don’t vote for Democrats. I tweeted just before the election that my worst fears were being realized: One of them was going to win.
Sure enough, on Election Day, one of them did win. And, I have to admit, I was a bit relieved at the one who won. It wasn’t Hillary, and although I’m sure His Holiness the Dalai Lama would suggest I need to work more on compassion and loving kindness, I did take a certain amount of schadenfreude in Hillary apparently being unable to appear the night of the election. I’m not proud of it, but I felt like it was a worthy comeuppance.
Besides everything else, Trump’s win has made things interesting to everyone who writes in any way about politics — even me, after I got over being depressed at the amount of crazy on both sides by realizing, “Hey! I get paid to write about crazy!”
So now, on Saturday, we reach the end of Trump’s first 100 days. Why do we care? NPR has a little essay on it, and if you ignore the deification of FDR and JFK, it explains basically that it’s a nice round number that a couple of Democrats, a bunch of the press, and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte have really liked to emphasize.
At this point, it’s tradition, and who am I go against tradition?
So, as someone who was not
#NeverTrump, but certainly
#NotFondOfTrump, what do I think now?
I have to say, on the whole, I’m pleasantly surprised. The master media manipulator continues to manipulate the media, and the media can’t seem to resist. At this point, I’m convinced that Trump is crazy — like a fox — and that crazy is on average doing him a lot of good.
This is partly, or course, because his purposeful crazy is driving his opponents real-life incoherently, incontinently crazy. From Maxine Waters’ on-again-off-again calls for impeachment, to Louise Mensch and the tinfoil hat “it’s all Russian spies all the way down” conspiracists, to real anarchists actually on TV actually beating up Republicans, conservatives, and people wearing red hats, the utter loss of all sense of proportion has gone a long way toward discrediting the remaining Democrats with a national platform.
In the meantime, I see what Trump has actually done as president in three categories.
First, he’s actually done quite a lot that I liked. Nominating Neil Gorsuch, for example. I only live a couple miles from him, and while I don’t know him personally, I’ve never heard a bad word about him. When he was nominated, I read a fair number of his opinions, and the sucker can write. What’s more, when he has something simple to say, he says it simply, a skill I’d love to see more politicians learn. Mattis at Defense, excellent, and the accompanying relaxation of the Rules of Engagement allowing the soldiers to just go out and soldier, seem already to be paying off. Trump’s done a lot to either repeal unreasonable regulations, or to start a process to repeal a lot of unreasonable regulations.
On the other hand, he still seems to be looking to FDR for his trade policy. Look, here’s the thing about applying tariffs and border taxes: Try as you might, they will always mean prices will go up for we poor schlubs who just buy stuff. Yeah, if we replace $1 an hour Chinese labor with $15 an hour American labor, those Americans now have jobs — but all of us are paying the higher prices. And then, odds are, it will be worth the money to develop more automation, at which point we’ll have unemployed $15 an hour technicians buying the expensive stuff that used to be cheap.
Or, more to the point, not buying it.
But then, what really happened? Trump got a lot of press about NAFTA and applied a little pressure on Canada on the softwood tariff within the structure of NAFTA, and then it leaked that he was prepared to announce the U.S. was leaving NAFTA — at which point the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Canada made personal calls saying “let’s negotiate.” So, now, instead of withdrawing from NAFTA, there’ll be a negotiation.
And, eventually, a deal.
Finally, there’s the waiting-for-evidence stuff. Health care and health insurance and all that — like it or not, there are a lot of people with interests here, and a lot of knobs that can be fiddled with. And the one thing we could be pretty certain wouldn’t really work is the one-page “It’s repealed” bill.
Seriously, think about it. What would happen? Would ACA insurance plans in effect simply go away? How about the few remaining exchanges? Insurance policy terms that were driven by ACA requirements — do those policies magically change so those clauses are no longer enforceable? Do doctors awaiting payment lose out because they were being paid through ACA-established policies? Honestly, if it weren’t for the ego of it all, the Democrats should have endorsed this: the resulting chaos might well have delivered the House in 2018.
Now, what really happened is that there was one attempt and it didn’t work. Trump started applying leverage — the Freedom Caucus pretty much folded. It seems very likely that the eventual result will be a bill that relaxes the ACA dramatically, and that no one likes very well — which, if you think about it, is pretty much what it means to reach a compromise.
Net-net — reaching back to my own Wall Street experience — I have to say that Trump was not only not as bad as I feared, but rather better than I honestly hoped, and seems to be on a good track. Now, this is only a little bit more than six percent of his first term; it’s way too early to declare Trump a success. But it seems to me he’s off to a good start.