One Year In

Well, El Presidente has been living in government housing for just about a year now.

How’s he been doing?

From a policy standpoint, he’s been pretty much in line with the Republican party, albeit with more racism. Either the GOP doesn’t care, thinking that it’s an acceptable price to pay for their agenda, or they are racists themselves and don’t particularly care if people know.

When it comes to policies and legislative initiatives, it’s been pretty much a failure all the way through. Trump’s first significant action was to issue an immigration ban, which immediately got held up in the courts. Despite revisions and appeals, it’s still stuck in limbo. Every attempt by the Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act through legislation has failed; they’ve had to resort to underhanded methods to undermine its key sections. Their tax cut plan was for all intents and purposes written by lobbyists, and rammed through Congress with as little discussion and debate as they could get away with. And its blatant handout to the wealthy has made it widely unpopular. Maybe he’s gotten a little thing or two passed, but there’s been nothing noteworthy.

One could say that it’s to his credit that the economy is still humming along, but most rational economists agree that it takes a long time for any policies to show their effects. The current economy is still the result of Obama’s policies. Anything Trump does will show up in a year or two. And I don’t recall him doing anything significant with regards to the economy….

An important thing that gets too little coverage is the staffing shortages at the federal level. Not only are people throwing in the towel, saying they cannot work with the administration, roughly one-third of all federal positions (over six hundred in total) that require Congressional approval of nominees don’t even have nominees yet. These aren’t sinecures, either. The most important one is the Director of the Census. This job should have been filled last year, since the Census needs to be already up and running in order for everything to be working properly when it’s time to do the actual counting in two years. You know, the Constitutionally mandated Census that determines the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives? Yeah, that thing….

Those tracking El Presidente’s many misstatements estimate that he spouts an average of five lies each day. Aside from his attacks on the press, where he calls anything he disagrees with “fake news”, this makes it very hard to be able to believe anything he says. Even something as innocuous as his height and weight is getting called into question.

The biggest problem is that El Presidente doesn’t really seem to care about the job. From the looks of it, he agrees with the last person he spoke with. He’s put forward no legislative ideas of his own. He cannot be bothered to read briefings or reports; he’ll only pay attention to the simplest of documents – especially when they mention his name. He spends an unconscionable amount of time playing golf or in “executive time”, watching and live-tweeting Fox News.

It’s easy to say that this lack of interest is an early sign of senility, but there are enough instances of him paying attention and being focused to make that diagnosis problematic.

What is far more likely is that he is just lazy. It’s fair to say that the only reason he wanted the job was to burnish his monumental ego, and now that he’s got it, nothing else matters.

Now under normal circumstances, we could probably survive a “caretaker” president. But we’re not living under normal circumstances. There’s no leadership in the president’s party, even in Congress. No one is willing to step up and curb his worst impulses. Even then, we might manage to survive. We’ve been lucky; the worst “crisis” so far has been a couple of hurricanes. Institutions are in place to deal with natural disasters without much leadership from the White House. But what happens if there’s something that requires more than just showing up and lobbing paper towels? What if there’s a military conflict somewhere, or the economy implodes? If something happens that requires significant and extended direction from the White House, something that requires the president to get out in front of the cameras and lead, will Trump be up to the task?

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