Blue State Blues: After 300 Days, Trump Administration Finds a Rhythm

Blue State Blues (Breitbart)
Breitbart News

Thursday, November 16 marked 300 days since President Donald Trump took office on January 20. The third 100 days were even more tumultuous than the first 100 and second 100.

And much remains undone. There are still jobs to fill, promises to keep, and bills to sign. Trump has yet to notch a major legislative achievement (thanks, in part, to infighting and incompetence in Congress).

But the Trump administration seems, at last, to have found a rhythm.

If the first 100 days were defined by Trump’s executive orders, and the second 100 days by the controversy over James Comey and the Russia investigation, the third 100 days were largely defined by foreign policy.

In early August — day 201 — Trump offered North Korea his infamous warning of “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” By day 295, he was mocking Kim Jong-un as “short and fat,” which probably represents a sort of progress.

At the same time, Trump announced the deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan, breaking with his own rhetoric on the campaign trail and risking the support of his political base, which worried that he had given in to advisers from the Beltway “swamp.” (Conversely, Washington praised Trump’s decision.) The major difference between Trump’s “surge” and that of his predecessor was that Trump declined to give a date for withdrawal.

Perhaps the greatest challenge of the third 100 days was the Charlottesville controversy. White supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members descended on the town to protest the removal of a statue honoring Confederate general Robert E. Lee. At a Saturday demonstration following a Friday night torchlight parade, they clashed violently with left-wing Antifa activists. A right-wing extremist drove his car into the Antifa procession, killing a young woman.

Trump condemned the violence on all sides, but was criticized for not singling out the right-wing extremists (as if he had a special duty to dissociate himself from them). He issued a second, sharper statement, then clashed with reporters at Trump Tower, adding that there were “fine people” even among those protesting to preserve the statue. He was correct — as even the New York Times reported — but the controversy shook the White House for weeks.

But if Charlottesville created new concerns about America’s political and racial divisions, Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas in late August, showed “neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend, and stranger helping stranger,” in Trump’s words. He received high marks for his response to Harvey, and to Hurricane Irma in Florida. Hurricane Maria, which ripped Puerto Rico, was a bigger challenge — but largely because of conditions unique to the island.

Trump also played the role of comforter-in-chief after dozens were killed in a mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, where a killer fired on the crowd from his hotel room. A few weeks later, New York suffered its worst terror attack since 9/11 when a Muslim immigrant from Uzbekistan killed pedestrians and bicyclists with a pickup truck in lower Manhattan. Trump called for an end to the diversity visa program that had admitted the killer.

Throughout the third 100 days, Trump made a number of important policy decisions in fulfillment of his campaign promises. The most important was his decision to end Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — the so-called “Dream Act by fiat” — on constitutional grounds. But Trump gave Congress a chance to legalize it, worrying supporters that he would cave, though the new border wall prototypes offered some solace.

In addition, Trump chipped away at the architecture of Obamacare, which the Senate had failed to repeal earlier in the year. He rescinded the mandate that had required insurers to provide contraceptives, including abortifacient drugs.

He also issued an executive order allowing health insurance companies to offer cheap, short-term policies, and also announced an end to the unconstitutional subsidies to insurance companies, pending a congressional fix.

The president also de-certified the Iran deal, demanding that Congress find a way to strengthen it against Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and its support for terrorist groups.

The administration ended the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which critics said was not only unconstitutional but would also be devastating for the coal industry. And Trump declared the abuse of opioids a national public health emergency.

Remarkably, Trump’s victory in the fight over his “travel ban” went largely unheralded. In October, the Supreme Court tossed out the case against his executive order limiting travel from several terror-prone countries, noting that the ban had been changed significantly. Effectively, the Court’s delay earlier in the year gave time for the Trump administration to complete the terms of the original order and revise it. Challenges continued, but with little impact.

Meanwhile, the Russia investigation faltered. Though Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted one of Trump’s former campaign managers, Paul Manafort, the charges had nothing to do with “collusion.” Junior foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but that was all.

The tables were turned as the public learned that the Clinton campaign and the Democrats had funded the Russian “dossier” through Fusion GPS.

The third 100 days were also marked by political turmoil, as chief strategist Steve Bannon left the White House and returned to Breitbart. Trump clashed openly with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other establishment figures, several of whom announced their retirements. In Alabama, insurgent Judge Roy Moore defeated Trump-endorsed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange — an outcome that is still rocking the political world.

In Hollywood, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment and assault over decades, setting off a tidal wave of allegations against other stars and power players. The wave soon crashed over Washington, DC, as the Washington Post reported allegations that Roy Moore had improper relationships with young women several decades before — and members of Congress began to come forward about sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, the economy boomed, with growth surging to 3.1% in the third quarter. The stock markets soared, hitting constant new records. Trump’s overall approval was dismally low, but economic confidence at its highest level in decades, with tax reform potentially on the horizon.

It was a performance Trump touted on his visit to Asia, the longest by a U.S. president since the early 1990s. After 300 days, it seemed he had finally found his groove.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This post has been updated.

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