Trump is not the kind of needy, approval-driven president who even feels it necessary to consult public opinion when naming his dog.
The results of President Trump’s first month in office depend on whom you ask. Critics who never accepted his presidency in the first place are setting speed records raising the issue of impeachment, and newly minted left-wing constitutional scholars are looking at ways to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. But their real fear is not that Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” rather that he is using the power of the presidency to do exactly what he said he’d do, and quickly.
The president has been remarkably consistent in pursuing the agenda he laid out on the campaign trail. In his speech Saturday in Melbourne, Fla., Trump hit the same themes, sometimes with the same phrases that he used in his campaign speeches: strong borders, good schools, great high-paying jobs, fair trade deals, rebuilding the depleted military, reining in bloated government, and repealing and replacing Obamacare. These were the issues that he was elected on, and this is the agenda he is pursuing.
His actions in office are directly related to this program, such as instituting a federal hiring freeze, directing that two federal regulations be cut for every new one, approving the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines and mandating that the pipe used in them be made in America, ordering construction of the border wall with Mexico, killing the Trans- Pacific Partnership deal, undermining Obamacare, restricting lobbying by former federal officials, and attempting to temporarily ban refugees from select conflict zones. His Cabinet selections reflect his preference for outside-the-Beltway talent and those who will act swiftly to create change. And speaking of consistency, it is worth noting that he first announced Judge Neil Gorsuch as a possible nominee for the Supreme Court last September.
The Trump White House has faced its share of challenges in getting things up and running, such as the departure of national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Democratic-led slow-rolling of the confirmation process. But the press is making much ado about what is just the rough and tumble of putting a new administration in place.
Remember that eight years ago, the buzz was about former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson having to bow out from becoming President Obama’s Commerce secretary because of a federal pay-to-play investigation involving Richardson’s political action committee. Former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle declined a nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services due to tax problems. Taxes also cost Nancy Killefer her prospective job as White House chief performance officer. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and trade representative Ron Kirk were forced publicly to explain their tax irregularities, too, but were later confirmed. Obama’s first-month appointment foibles were so noteworthy that The Washington Post assembled a roundtable of eight respected political analysts to discuss what was going wrong.
Recall also that when President Clinton nominated Janet Reno for attorney general in February 1993, she was his third choice — Zoë Baird and Kimba Wood had been knocked out by the Nannygate controversy.
Polls show widely divergent results on whether the public approves of the administration’s course or not. This says more about the polls than the White House. After all, these are the same surveys that failed miserably to predict the outcome of the election, and if you don’t like one poll’s results you can always pick another. However, the question of the reliability of the polls is not as important as the fact that Trump does not care what they say. If he fretted about polling, he never would have been elected in the first place. Trump is not the kind of needy, approval-driven president who even feels it necessary to consult public opinion when naming his dog.
It is easy to predict what the Trump White House will do during the rest of its first 100 days. Simply look at what the president has promised. You can bet he will try to deliver. And this is what annoys his critics most.
James S. Robbins, an expert on national security, foreign affairs and the military, is an author and a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors. His books include This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive.