Trump’s first 10 days have been remarkable. It’s not going to change much. There will be a day of reckoning, for better or worse, once the consequences of his decisions are visible. But for now, all that can be said with confidence is that the nation is still divided along the lines we saw on Election Day. If you didn’t like him, you’re confirmed in that view. If you did, it’s the things he’s done well that stand out.
HE’S WINNING THE RATINGS WAR
If the goal is television ratings and numbers of viewers it’s a socko debut. Everyone is paying attention and everyone’s tuned in.
HE’S KEEPING HIS PROMISES
He said he would build a wall, exclude Muslims, take on Washington, re-capture the Supreme Court, renegotiate trade deals, work with Russia, smack down EPA, and toughen borders. He has.
The premises of his candidacy were that Washington and the world order were corrupt and that he would disrupt them. Disrupt them he has. Accepted norms for trade and foreign policy are gone, and relations with Mexico, Japan, China, Russia, Iraq, etc. are in tatters. Career civil servants are under threat, especially at State and Justice but the signals are felt across the government. Congressional relations have Republicans cowering and Democrats united, if somewhat ineffectual.
HE’S BEING HIMSELF
For some, Trump’s appeal is authenticity. In a world populated by phonies and self-seekers, there’s virtue in being exactly who you appear to be. The tweets, the half-baked ventures and the lies are evidence that President Trump is the same as candidate Trump.
The human cost, the impact on individuals, the dangers to American self-interest, the economic damage, the erosion of America as a beacon of light and liberty, the incompetence, the lies, the bullying, these are things that have not yet grabbed the attention of the nation. Trump will not be deterred by argument and evidence. Expect a relentless de-legitimization of the opposition, of the press, and of specific groups. When the consequences of the disruptions and policies emerge, and they’re bad, don’t expect acknowledgement and course-correction. Expect more of the same: high ratings, kept promises, disruption and authenticity. Whether that will compensate for failed policies is the great unknown.