The Trump Presidency so far
The presidency of Donald Trump is now off and running and the road is hard and the road is long and the road is rocky.
The traditional honeymoon period never really got started and it is his fault and the fault of those who are advising him. Therein may lie the problem.
Clean up the swamp is an attractive campaign slogan. To many of his supporters it was music to the ears. The “professional” politicians had done nothing for them, now they were going to get their own back. The Donald heard this and he took it on-board. There would be no professionals in his administration. Business professionals yes, political professionals no. The mantra has echoed from one cock-up to the next.
To his hard-core supporters this is music to the ears. No matter how ineffectual or incompetent the administration becomes the more they cheer from the side-lines.
Well they would say he is delivering on his campaign promises and that's why we voted for him.
Promise number one – Make America Great Again. Jury is out on this one as it obviously will take some time to make a judgement. How long? Hard to say, the voters, even the hard core expect some tangible results.
Promise number two – Build the Wall
We should let the administration speak on this one;
Now, I'm assuming the intention is to keep the “bad hombres” out. That's how the President described the rationale. I believe most Americans support this. Why wouldn't you support a plan to keep bad people out? The questions are how effective will it be, how much will it cost and who is going to pay for it?
Effective? A wall must slow down illegal immigration from Mexico. Common sense tells you it will prevent some people from crossing the border illegally. Will it stop all of them? Not very likely. What will it cost? Estimates range from a few hundred million to billions. Where will the money go? Most of it to big business who will do the actual building, but there will be jobs created. Moving to South Texas has never seemed so attractive. Is this a plan to revive the economy? The President says so. He wants to be known as the greatest job-creating President ever.
Donald Trump often reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt. (I'm sure the Donald would be flattered by the comparison) They are both nominal rather than real Republicans. Therein the comparison starts to run thin. They both had big construction projects in mind. Panama Canal and Mexican Wall. The Panama canal was a great success despite having to engineer a fake revolution in another country (Colombia) and costing an astronomical amount of money (The Panama Canal cost Americans around $375,000,000, including the $10,000,000 paid to Panama and the $40,000,000 paid to the French company. It was the single most expensive construction project in United States history to that time) I can't even begin to calculate how much that is is today's money!
The Mexican wall will cost a lot. Some of this spending will be beneficial. Some perhaps not.
Promise number three - Temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States
We know how this one is going. Again, there is wide-spread support for keeping extremists from entering the US. Why would anyone be against this? It's very attractive at first glance. Notwithstanding the difficulties in court, which are well-documented, how effective and sensible is this policy? Answer? Not much.
It should be assumed that terrorists, real terrorists, are not going to turn up at JFK with a Somali passport and no English skills at all. The ban will certainly stop them. What about the terrorist with a fake German passport, good English and a ticket from Frankfort to Montreal via Canada Air? He gets off and drives over the longest undefended border in the world. The fact is number three is a nonsense designed to pander to the worst elements in the Trump supporters club.
Number four - Bring manufacturing (jobs) back’
Forgetting the wall, this is a real tough one. There is an old saying which the President, I'm sure, is aware of – you can't buck the markets. Nobody, even die hard Trump supporters, is going to keep paying over the odds for products which are made the USA. It simply cannot be done.
Number five - Impose tariffs on goods made in China and Mexico
Can do. Why? The American consumer is addicted to washing machines made in Shanghai and they will not pay over the odds for one made in Santa Fe. Tariffs will make all washing machines the same price – higher. Crazy.
Number six - Renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership
Renegotiate implies the other side is willing and able to make a new deal. Optimistic in the extreme.
Number seven - Full repeal of Obamacare’ and replace it with a market-based alternative
Obamacare is flawed, always has been. Can Trump suggest a better alternatives, having in mind that the very folks who elected him in Pennsylvania are the same ones who have been enjoying the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Tough circle to square!
Number eight Renegotiate the Iran deal
Old story, it takes two to tango and the Iranians have said no to a renegotiation.
Number nine - Leave Social Security as is
Political suicide to do anything else. Easiest promise to keep. Just do nothing. Good call.
Number ten - Cut taxes
All politicians, even experienced one, promise this. It will not happen, but the voters will not hold it against him. Nor should they.
Number eleven - Bomb’ and/or ‘take the oil’ from ISIS
A better analysis than mine:
“A twist on his decade-old idea to seize Middle Eastern oil as repayment, Trump repeatedly makes this promise on the campaign trail, arguing it’ll cut off funding to ISIS.
The United States has already been bombing oil assets under ISIS control for quite some time, though.
"It’s like saying there won’t be a meteor strike in 1812," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As for how he would "take the oil," Trump told the Washington Post’s editorial board in March he would "circle" and "defend those areas" with ground troops, but wouldn’t commit to a number.
To keep this promise, Trump would have to invade Syria and convince the Assad regime to give up their claims on oil and gas in the country, according to Matthew Reed, vice president of Foreign Reports, a consultant firm specializing in Middle East oil politics
"If Trump wants to take oil from ISIS, he needs an invasion plan and an occupation plan covering years, plus a reconstruction plan worth billions of American dollars," Reed said.
Given that the United States and its allies have been systematically taking territory from ISIS without resorting to a full-scale invasion, Cordesman called the promise "purposeless" and "imbecilic."”
Bottom line: Trump is poorly advised. Mostly this is his fault (the buck stops here) but he can still turn it around. I give him another month to begin the process or it's circle the wagons time.