Prologue to an 'unpredictable' presidency
By Robert Shrum
This has been the most unconventional first 100 days of any presidency in modern history. His shortfalls have actually been politically fortunate. For example, President Trump apparently doesn't know how blessed he was by his most conspicuous failure to date: health care. The Trump-Ryan proposal encountered fierce opposition, would have hurt many who voted for him, and increased public approval of Obamacare. The president also signed a now-stalled travel ban and executive orders rolling back regulations on matters ranging from the environment to reproductive rights, to worker and consumer protections. However, the current legislative stalemate blocking his major initiatives may ease the fears of those who foresaw more sweeping, unwelcome change. In a few days, he will face his next test: keeping the government open by raising the debt ceiling.
Crises overseas recently moved to the fore. The candidate who proclaimed 'America First' suddenly has become the president who fires missiles at a Syrian airfield and confronts a nuclear North Korea while he shifts on NATO, China and Russia. Is there a coherent strategy? None has been enunciated. President Trump says he would prefer to keep hypothetical foes guessing, raising apprehension.
Finally, one shadow hangs over Trump’s first 100 Days and probably the first year of this presidency: the investigation of Russian interference in the election and possible Trump campaign ties to it.
I haven’t even mentioned the tweets, the feud with the press or infighting within the White House. The past three months seem a prologue to an unpredictable four years. To paraphrase Bette Davis in All About Eve: “Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride."
Robert Shrum is the director of the USC Dornsife College's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, a political science professor, strategist and consultant who served as senior advisor to the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004 and to the Gore-Lieberman campaign in 2000.
Photo by Matt Meindl, USC