President Trump’s Terrible One-Month Report Card
Has it really only been a month? We wish we could say that Trump surprised us, but from the minute he took the oath of office one month ago today, he hasn’t: This has been the worst, most unsettling start of a new president in modern memory. This period is supposed to be the honeymoon. Yet there has been so much churn and breaking news it’s hard to keep up. While the drama has provided plenty of fodder for the readers (and writers) of Shadow Government, it has been very damaging to the country. But how much? It’s important to step back and reflect on the top ten things we have learned in recent weeks — and what this means for the future.
1. Process, process, process. Washington wonks love to talk about process, but the sloppy and rushed way in which the administration rolled out its Executive Order on immigration makes the best case for why process really matters. On the merits, we think the EO is a terrible, self-defeating policy to address a phony threat. As Michael Morell pointed out, there is little evidence that refugees or immigrants are terrorist threat to the United States — the real risk is homegrown radicalization, which the discriminatory EO may contribute to. The suspension of legal migration from seven Muslim-majority nations also risks complicating cooperation with counterterrorism partners across the Muslim world (with Iraq being a notable case in point).
But even for those sympathetic to Trump’s actions, the EO could have been met with far more applause among Republicans if the administration had shown basic competence — taking the time to include the interagency, brief Capitol Hill, line up its surrogates, and ensure that organizations like Customs and Border Control had a clear understanding of how the order would be implemented in practice, particularly in regards to Green Card holders. Beyond the EO debacle, other failures of process include the green lighting of the Jan. 28 Yemen raid (in which one U.S. Navy Seal and numerous civilians were killed) over dinner without interagency deliberation, and the absence of any clear process to review responses to early provocations by Russia and North Korea. (The frantic review of documents on the North Korea missile launch by cell phone light at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort doesn’t count).