Abject Failure – Part One

Much has been made of President Trump’s first 100 days in office which won’t officially end until this Saturday. I decided to review them a bit ahead of time which will entail a few predictions. Today’s article is part one and it will be followed by parts two and three on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. All the articles will be written a day or days prior to publishing. Let’s explore; Saturday you can see how clear my crystal ball was.

First I’ll start out with what I feel are Trump’s accomplishments. (I define accomplishment to include something that was actually good for the country.) Don’t worry; it won’t take long to read.

I agree with Trump not telegraphing his strategy in foreign affairs. It was one of his few campaign promises I liked and the only one I was certain he would deliver on. Here we somewhat get into the old fortune or prowess discussion. Is Trump deliberately being somewhat elusive or is it that he and his team simply don’t know what they are doing?

I like that he got us out of the TPP. Obama failed to sell me on the agreement and the old union sympathizer who feels burned by NAFTA in me came out. What got lost in most of the reporting was that TPP never really existed; it was a proposal, not a done deal. To a great degree Trump extricated us from something that never existed and most likely never would have.

That’s about it; two “accomplishments” both of which are at least somewhat questionable.

Trump will tout his biggest accomplishment as getting Neil Gorsuch conformed to the Supreme Court. First off a Scalia clone certainly doesn’t meet my definition of being good for America! That factor aside it is difficult to give Trump the credit. The opening only existed because Mitch McConnell disregarded the Constitution, rolled the dice and got lucky. Trump simply nominated someone on the lists he got from two extreme right wing organizations. For all we know he taped the lists to the Oval Office wall and threw a dart. In order to close the deal McConnell was forced to change the rules under which the confirmation was held. Trump may have been involved but others were the masterminds.

Since I started with foreign affairs I’d like to conclude today’s exploration with a brief overview of where we stand. The big scheduled events coming up are France’s runoff election on May 7th, the UK snap elections on June 8th and Germany’s elections on September 24th.

Trump weighed in on France’s first round when he effectively endorsed far right candidate Marine LePen. LePen finished a close second to Emmanuel Macron. A LePen victory would all but guarantee the weakening of both the EU and NATO. That plays right into the hands of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Generally a politician in a parliamentary system doesn’t call for a snap election unless they feel they can win it and possibly gain some political capital in the process. UK Prime Minister Theresa May is probably hoping for both. Her Conservative Party is riding high and may hope to gain a few more seats in Parliament. A new mandate would strengthen her domestic hand in the UK’s EU exit (a/k/a Brexit). I’m far from an expert on UK politics but I’d love to see an upset by Labour and something that stopped the Brexit. Both are probably too much to ask for but I guess I can dream. My guess is that since May is favored and is somewhat reluctantly going along with Brexit Trump will discipline himself enough to steer clear of this one. Again, one can only hope.

It is unusual for an American liberal to wish a German Conservative well but in this case I am. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a reasonable (and legitimate) conservative. She represents Europe’s best chance to keep the EU together, strengthen NATO and resolve the refugee crisis in a reasonable and humane manner.

During a recent White House visit Trump treated her with disrespect refusing to do the traditional handshake photo op after Merkel politely reminded him. A few days later Trump made a point of shaking hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. El-Sisi is a dictator who jails journalist and tortures his political opponents. (Being able to do that is probably Trump’s dream if you judge him by the world leaders he admires.) The Trump administration will brag about gertting an American released shortly after the handshake and credit in part el-Sisi’s intervention. The truth of the matter is that the hostage was of no value to the Egyptians and had already endured a long captivity. Trump got played and basically got nothing in return.

The ongoing North Korean issue is still what concerns me the most. Trump’s tweets and Mike Pence’s dress up tough talk isn’t helping. Is it too much to ask that these “geniuses” actually know the whereabouts of a carrier group?

Expect more about the first 100 days in the next two articles. Safe to say, unless there is a dramatic turnaround they have been an abject failure!

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