Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Grading Trump

I told you that you could skip that speech.  It was pointless.  The Democrats didn't even pull a Joe Wilson.  Why bother?

Anyway, today I thought I'd handle something more fun.  You may have heard that Trump has decided to give himself an early grade.  On Fox & Friends (of course), he gave himself a C for "messaging," and, um, what do you think for substance?  He could crap his pants on national tv, burn down the White House (without a war), and then start a war with Turkey because he bought cattle futures and didn't know the country wasn't a bird, and he'd still give himself an A.  This is Donald Trump we are discussing.

As a professor, with some experience in the matter of assigning grades, I just can't resist.

Legislative success rate on major priorities:  0% so far, but keep in mind that this should go up.  Obamacare repeal is spinning its wheels, and apparently Trump just recently learned that healthcare is complicated.  Apparently, he thinks that this is a novel discovery.  Nothing else has happened in any other major area either.  On legislation:  F.  Yes, this can go up, but by comparison, other presidents have often signed major legislation by now.

Executive orders:  This is more of a challenge because the key becomes weighting.  The muslim ban (or, muslim redlining, as I prefer to call it) is in legal trouble.  The fact that this was such a priority means it should be weighted heavily, bringing down his grade, but he is having an easier time with deportations, and some of the other executive actions.  He hasn't been lazy about these, and he has pretty much done what he has said.  It's just that some of the legal issues were obvious from the get-go, but that should be factored into the grade.  On executive orders:  B

Appointments:  This is where Trump really stands out from the crowd in his ineptitude.  He has had a slow pace of appointments and confirmations, and a lot of that is his fault, but what clinches his grade here is the Flynn debacle.  All-time classic failure.  Just for good measure, though, the guy in charge of the nukes wanted to eliminate the department because he didn't know what it did, but couldn't remember that that was the department he wanted to eliminate back in 2012.  Really, though, Flynn clinches the F here.  And just for good fun, Trump's first pick to replace Flynn wouldn't take the job!  We could add in the fact that the guy he picked for HUD is just there because of his skin color, and while a brilliant surgeon, has no relevant qualifications for HUD whatsoever.  There's the Puzder debacle.  There's what just happened with the Sec. Navy position.  And I haven't even started in on DeVos.  There's our Attorney General, who was denied a federal judgeship for being too racist in the 1980's, which is apparently just racist enough for Trump.  And I could keep going.  Now, to be fair to Trump, not all of his nominees are epic disasters.  There's Elaine Chao, who gets appointed by every Republican President for something because she's really, really, really smart and, oh yeah, married to Mitch McConnell.  So, this isn't a 0% F, like Trump's legislative success score, and not all of these are Flynn-level disasters.  Tillerson may be uncomfortably close to Putin, so I wouldn't score him at 100%, but he's certainly not a 0%, and Sec. State is part of the grade.  Still, Flynn alone is so disastrous that this is an F.  In the grade sheet, I'd enter this as probably a 50%-55% F.

International relations:  Trump ran for office on the promise that everyone would be so in awe of him that some sort of undefined, generic form of "winning" would happen.  The only world leader who appears to be in awe of him is Rodrigo Duterte, although to be fair, according to the New York Times, the Cambodian government is now using Trump's attacks on the media to justify their own opposition to the concept of the free press.  Foreign respect for Trump among people who count?  Not seeing it.  Instead, Putin looks at him as somewhere between "pawn" and "useful idiot."  Our allies are somewhere between baffled and terrified, nobody is cowed, North Korea is doing missile tests, Iran is rattling sabres...  Oh, and Mexico doesn't appear to be ponying up that money.  Shocker.  International relations:  F

Basically, Trump is flunking everything except Executive Orders, which is the easiest component of the grade.  In assigning grades, that's like the "classroom participation" grade.  Show up, talk and indicate at least passing familiarity with the materials, and you won't fail that part of the class grade.  Trump is flunking everything else.

And that's before we get into the Academic Integrity violations.  Connections with Russia (which is really what the Flynn thing is about anyway), emoluments violations...  There is a wide world of things that clearly call for at least some form of investigation.  And remember, Clinton was impeached by Republicans for lying in the course of an investigation about a matter that wasn't even related at all to the subject of the original investigation.  And nobody lies like Trump, if they were to apply the same standard...

So, overall grade for Trump?

Do I even have to type it?


  1. You're forgetting your Neustadt. Even if the exec orders are a B, they cost him more in causing more resistance within and outside of the executive branch in the future.

    I think I'd give the EOs a C-. He got the job sorta done, but in a way that causes more problems than it solves for him.

    1. I haven't forgotten. I just don't see the cost. The intelligence agencies resist because they think he is compromised, Democrats resist because he is a Republican and didn't win cleanly, and Republicans aren't resisting. Resistance in, say, Labor? As a consequence of the executive orders? Possibly, but I'd need evidence.

      And since when are you a harder grader than me?

    2. As for substance, I think you'll see a lot of leaks coming out of Justice that you might not have if, say, they had been fucking consulted on the unconstitutional EO you imposed and they were forced to defend, on a Saturday, with no advance warning at all, nor anyone on the phone to give them advice. Some of them might have been willing to swallow misgivings before that. After?

      The problem is observing it; at some point, naked resistance to Trump throughout the Exec is just simply overdetermined.

    3. We're still not certain where the leaks are, though, and who the leakers are. A lot of the leaks from the press office are motivated by raw hatred of Spicer. Notice how quickly the story leaked about Spicer demanding everyone's cell phones to crack down on leaks. That's where your pointed about overdetermination comes in, and that's why I'm skeptical that it's about the orders.