WOLLEY: Trump's first 100 days leave us wanting

May 6, 2017

One hundred days into the Trump administration and I miss President Obama—or just normal presidents. While I did not agree with everything the former president did or did not do, specifically with respect to issues facing the black community, a third term of the former president is sounding good right about now.

The Washington Post/ABC News did polls on the first 100 days for each leader. One hundred days into the Obama administration, the Democrat enjoyed a 69 percent approval rating; President Trump is at a modern low.

Obama leveraged both the national euphoria surrounding his election as the nation’s first black president and the opportunity presented by the economic crisis in his first 100 days to take on real challenges. During that time, Obama got a stimulus bill through Congress, developed a plan to address toxic assets plaguing the economy, and announced a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. Of course, the former president faced the headwinds of an economy teetering on the brink of complete collapse and sharp partisan divides that persisted throughout both of his terms.

The Trump administration has its 100-day story to tell. In an official White House press release, the administration documents the signing of executive orders, takes credit for enacted legislation and details aggressive usage of the Congressional Review Act, which nullifies regulations. Of course, his press release incorrectly boasts more signed executive orders than Franklin Roosevelt—the inventor of the 100-day presidential metric. And according to the White House, only Harry Truman presided over a more active Congress in the passage of enacted bills.

Yes, it mattered that Trump’s first 100 days had more activity than the other presidents did. It didn’t matter as much on the actual accomplishments for people—unless you owned a business.

So, no major legislative accomplishments. Plenty of fights with the judicial branch. Wild accusations and enough scandals to make me feel like I am watching the show “Scandal” rather than the real news. This is occurring while the economy is in good shape, especially in comparison to 2008, and Republicans control Congress.

One hundred days into any presidency is an arbitrary mark, so that isn’t where the story should end. Presidential scholars credit Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan with using their first 100 days to set up administrations that would ultimately become transformative. Should we expect the promise of transformation in a still-young Trump presidency?

Unorthodox, unprecedented and just bad are words that could describe the first 100 days. We should be expecting something more.

Trump supporters would argue that he is a negotiator, which means we should expect posturing and positioning that ostensibly should lead to better deals for America. OK, let’s see.

I still want Trump to be successful for the sake of the country but it’s hard to know what his agenda actually is other than trying to get wins.

Trump defies political gravity. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll reported that the president has the lowest approval rating in modern history at this point in his presidency, yet 96 percent of his voters would have voted for him again knowing what they know now. His voters are expecting something—what that is, I’m not sure.

I just miss the days when presidents were presidents. The good old days when I knew about the presidents’ taxes, or when they didn’t tweet so much.•


Wolley is a lecturer at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI.Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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