Ross Douthat reviews Trump’s first 100 days in office:
The first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency have not been exactly what you could call successful, by the standards that one would normally use to judge such things. No significant legislation has passed Congress, and indeed it has become painfully clear that this White House has no real sense of what legislation it would even like to pass. There has been no political honeymoon: For this stage of an administration, Trump is the most unpopular president of modern times. Important areas of the executive branch are barely staffed or functioning, the White House is in a state of low-grade civil war, and the bungling, pratfalls, conflicts of interest, weak attempts at propaganda and brazen lying are all, well, not normal, as the self-styled “resistance” likes to say.
But it could be worse.
It’s true that things could be worse (and they may well get worse), but if we judge Trump against the standard we would have used for any of his predecessors we have to grade his first three months as an almost complete failure. Except for the confirmation of Gorsuch, I would be hard-pressed to name a major success for this administration. On the domestic front, Trump has been stymied by opposition (including from within his own party), and overseas he and his officials have racked up a number of unforced diplomatic errors, the illegal use of force in Syria, and reckless rhetoric about possible military action against North Korea that has raised tensions there to a dangerous and unusual degree. The failure to present nominations for hundreds of confirmable positions is proof of the administration’s general incompetence, and makes easily avoidable blunders more likely as time goes on. Trump’s inability and/or unwillingness to do the work required for governing is already catching up to him, and the failure to staff his own administration will be tripping him up for months and possibly years to come.
The “100 days” standard is an arbitrary and somewhat unfair one. In general, we shouldn’t want the government to adopt new laws and policies with haste. Since much of what Trump wants to do is questionable or wrong, it is not bad for the country if he isn’t successful in enacting his preferred policies. Nonetheless, it is definitely bad news for the country that this administration usually doesn’t know what it’s doing, and compared to any other modern administration this one has to be considered the least competent and worst-run at this point in a presidential term.