We’re now two weeks into the presidency of Donald Trump. It has been an eventful two weeks, and it’s time for an evaluation of Trump’s performance so far. After all, I’m a professor. We do that kind of thing. Besides, everybody else is doing it. I, at least, waited until the nominal grading period was over!
As to my grading scale, I’m going to use Ted Cruz to set the curve. Throughout his first four years in the Senate and during his presidential campaign, Cruz was the gold standard of what informed, thinking, Constitutional conservatives wanted to see in government. And Cruz could have been president. If Trump could beat Hillary, Cruz would have beaten her by a larger margin. If we could have had Cruz, how should we rate what we do have? The question in this exercise will be: On each issue, if Cruz would have scored an A, how should we grade Trump’s performance?
The Supreme Court Nomination
This is the big one. This is what Trump was elected to do. It’s why millions of people, especially millions of Christians, held their noses and voted for him. So how did he do? Well, I would have scored this one an outright A if he had nominated Mike Lee. Lee is as proven in his commitment to the Constitution as anyone who could possibly have come under consideration for the post. Neil Gorsuch may turn out to be just as good, or he may not. It’s very hard to know with Supreme Court justices. Eisenhower famously regretted his nomination of William Brennan and Earl Warren. David Souter was certainly a nasty surprise for conservatives, and, more recently, John Roberts has sometimes been a disappointment. Most conservatives are enthusiastic about Gorsuch. Andrew Schlafly seems to be more or less alone in his dissent. We’ll see, but it may take a year or two. I’m guardedly optimistic, but, so far–
This is the big one that is most of the reason the first one is a big one. I’m referring to the Supreme Court’s 1973 re-writing of the Constitution in order to create a right for frightened, confused, and misled mothers to have their babies killed by the lucrative abortion industry that preys on them. The need to right that wrong and stop the killing is the biggest (but not the only) reason Supreme Court nominations are important. Trump’s action thus far on abortion has been good. He gave favorable mention to the annual March for Life. He also signed an executive order (restoring Ronald Reagan’s executive order, which had been repealed by Barrack Obama’s executive order) cutting off U.S. taxpayer funding to foreign organizations that provide abortions. Excellent. However, we need to see the administration pressing hard for a full cut-off of funding to America’s very own baby-killing organization (and body-parts chop shop), Planned Parenthood. I’ll allow that the ball is in Congress’s court now, but Trump needs to step up on this issue to keep a grade this high in future weeks.
This is another big one. It’s why millions of uninformed voters, who didn’t know that other candidates had far longer and better records than Trump on this subject, voted for him in the Republican primaries. He said it loud, often, and crudely, and Fox News gave him $2 billion-worth of free advertising in doing so. That said, Trump does seem to be coming through on this promise, at least partially. He has announced his plans to build the promised wall. I’ll give him points for that. The silly claim about making Mexico pay for the wall was something every intelligent voter recognized as a lie from the time Trump first said it. He loses points for that. Then there is his moratorium on immigration from terror-prone countries. I actually give him a lot of points for that. On the other hand, one would think that such an important issue could have been handled in at least a halfway-competent manner. Instead, we had the mess about green card holders. That will cost him some points in my gradebook. I’m not sure anything the White House could have done would have prevented the media from initially misrepresenting the action as a Moslem-ban nor the Left-Coast judges from trying to stop it. Overall, then, on immigration during Trump’s first two weeks
This was another big reason that many people voted for Trump, not so much because of Trump’s promises on the issue, which were vague and notably lacking in some areas, as because Hillary Clinton was rightly seen as supporting the homosexual movement’s current campaign of persecution of Christians. Trump’s action on this subject seems to be still up in the air to some degree. What we have so far are leaks of drafts of an executive order that might to some degree reverse policies of the Obama administration that had the effect of forcing Christians to support and/or acknowledge abortion and homosexual behavior. Based on what has been reported (see this also) on the leaked draft, if Trump had signed it, I would be giving him an A in this subject. However, it is also reported (and here and here) that First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner influenced Trump not to sign the order. This is disturbing because it seems to confirm fears that Ivanka and her husband are left-wing Democrats who will exert a pernicious influence on her father. However, according to an article in Politico, unnamed White House officials said the order probably would not have been signed in any case. It was part of a large stack of possible executive orders accumulated during the transition– “some by outside groups, others by transition officials”–and was “never intended to be signed, even without pushback from Kushner, Ivanka Trump or anyone else.” This is actually more disturbing since it confirms the impression produced by Trump’s statements during the campaign that in the homosexual movement’s war on Christianity, Trump is firmly on the side of the homosexual movement. That rates a failing grade, but I encourage the president to correct the error, sign the draft, and see this grade replaced in future weeks with a much better one.
Trump’s demeanor thus far in campaign, transition, and now the presidency has apparently been such as to encourage Vladimir Putin to think that further adventures in the Ukraine (and perhaps elsewhere) will be tolerated. He has to lose some points for that. Russia (aka the “Ukrainian rebels”) has recently started a new offensive in eastern Ukraine, causing great suffering to the Ukrainian people. That costs Trump at least a few points in my book. On the other hand, ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley stated the United States would not lift economic sanctions on Russia until Russia stopped its aggression against Ukraine and withdrew from the Crimea. That’s very good. Russia ought to withdraw from Crimea, and we ought not to accept Russian aggression there without signaling our displeasure in some tangible way. So, Trump would have finished the two weeks with a very good average score on this subject (in my grading), except that he shot off his mouth again. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, of which a clip aired yesterday and the full interview to air today, Trump responded to O’Reilly’s statement that Putin is a killer by suggesting that the United States was just as bad. OK, I realize Trump isn’t very good in these interviews, and I realize he probably wants to be able to work with Putin. But that comment was neither fair nor helpful. It appears Trump is determined to let Putin off the hook.
The Trump administration announced its intent to impose sanctions on Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and its missile development program clearly aimed at developing the ability to deliver nuclear warheads. Good. But Obama imposed similar sanctions last year. Surely we can do better than that. In fact, we could tear up the deal Obama made with Iran allowing that country to develop nuclear weapons–as Ted Cruz would have done had he been elected. Trump has not expressed the intention of doing that. He should.
Although the Trump administration expressed its continued support of Israel, it objected to the building of Israeli settlements in that part of the land of Israel known commonly as “the West Bank.” The White House press secretary’s statement said: “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal” (See this also). Complaining about an ally constructing settlements in the part of its own territory claimed by its rapacious neighbors is not the kind of support I would like to have.
This averages out to a C+ . It’s not as bad as we had under Obama or probably would have had under Clinton. But it’s not as good as we could and should have had with Ted Cruz. That it’s as good as it is, despite Trump’s extremely poor character, doesn’t surprise me. I expected that he would do some good things, especially at first. But character still counts, and sooner or later there will a price to be paid for having Donald Trump as our president. Remember, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.” Proverbs 25:19.