President Donald Trump completed his first 100 days in office. In assessing his first steps, his admirers applaud the appointment of conservative Neil Gorsuch at the Supreme Court. In the area of foreign policy they endorse his offensive in Syria. His detractors criticise thin legislative achievements signalling that his approval rating is in free fall.
The right moves. The most blatant move in the right direction is the appointment of a judge to the Supreme Court as intelligent as he is conservative. Hugh Hewitt, broadcast pro at the acclaimed conservative-oriented radio programme “The Hugh Hewitt show”, explained: “The appointment of Neil Gorsuch is a victory that could last 30, perhaps 40 years, [the number of years the judge could remain in office, Ed.’s note]”. Hewitt reminded listeners that a set of important decisions lie ahead for the Supreme Court, and that Gorsuch will follow in the wake of his conservative predecessor, the late Antonin Scalia. The Republican Party base equally welcomed the decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to strengthen enforcement against undocumented immigrants along with the promise to proceed with the now famous wall on the border with Mexico, although the source of funding of the project is yet unclear.
The wall with Mexico. A few months ago Trump said that Mexico would pay for the wall, while today he says “we will be reimbursed … in one way or the other.” But it is being increasingly seen as a stalking-horse. “The funds for the wall must come from Congress”, said Professor Michael Genovese, expert in White House Studies, Director of the Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
“And while for the time being it continues enjoying support, the President’s drop in popularity could result in a lack for funds for the project.”
Moreover, Genovese does not think that the wall could truly lock down the southern border. “Walls can be climbed over, torn down, or crossed through an underground tunnel”, he said. “Furthermore, in many border areas the erection of a wall is not feasible. It would remain permeable. Serious people don’t believe in the panacea of the wall.”
Which counter-reformation? In the score sheet of the President’s pummelling, conservative opinion-leader Hewitt includes the failure to wipe out or replace Obamacare, the law regulating the health system, a trademark of the Obama administration, harshly criticised for years by members of the Grand Old Party and a recurrent target of Trump’s invectives during the election campaign. “With a lead at the Presidency, at the Senate and at the House of Representatives, Republicans were believed capable of devising a potent counter-reformation”, Hewitt said, “but it has been dramatically acknowledged that they were left empty-handed.”
Immigration and the Korea file. Among the various setbacks should be included the twofold stop (for declared anti-terrorist purposes) to the travel of immigrants from seven Muslim Countries, rejected by the Court of Appeals on two occasions. From a broader perspective, President Trump appears to have projected into the world an image of improvisation.
Let is suffice to mention North Korea. At first he called upon the world to “be prepared for the worse”, but shortly after the President described the North-Korean dictator as a “smart cookie.” He later declared he would be honoured to meet him, but then denied his claims by word of his collaborators.
Moreover, on several occasions Trump reaffirmed his unpredictability on the grounds of not wanting to give points of reference to his opponents, especially in the area of foreign policy.
Inborn narcissism. Conservative observers like Hewitt see remarkable progress in Trump’s ability to be surrounded by the best most knowledgeable persons in the National Security Council, the body that more than others influences presidential decisions (notably the appointment of H.R. McMaster and the dismissal of Stephen Bannon). Other political analysts don’t share the same views. Michael Brenner, Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Pittsburgh University, has no doubts: “Many persist in their belief that Trump will evolve into a ‘normal’ president. Logic suggests that the responsibility of such a high office would make him sober. His faux pas would expectedly mitigate his impulsiveness.” However, Brenner concluded:
“None of these promises are realistic. Trump suffers from inborn narcissism, a pathology for which there is no cure.”
Stamp on the media! On one thing they all agree: Trump declared war to the press. “He is following Nixon’s strategy”, Genovese said. “The idea is to delegitimize the press so the readership may not take it seriously. Moreover, ’the hard core of his party detests generalist media outlets. It’s an old ploy. When people are unhappy, stamp on the media. It always works.”