A second whirlwind week has come to its close with President Trump at the helm of our executive branch. And it’s been a doozy.
As always, we’ll break down Trump’s performance along three lines: policy, rhetoric, and “the in-between”: policy talk that hasn’t yet been implemented.
For context, Trump scored a B+ for his first week.
Policy. Trump scores high marks on policy this week – higher than in week one. His policy has been almost universally excellent this week. His executive order on immigration and refugees from the Middle East was certainly not a Muslim ban – it was actually too broad in some ways and not nearly broad enough in others. The rollout was near-disastrous, thanks to the manipulations of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who insisted on applying the executive order to green card holders. But the policy itself is a weak attempt at a step forward on better vetting for those entering the country from terror-rich areas. Trump’s selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court was a masterstroke – it unified his base and sent forth a textualist with a virtually unimpeachable record. Trump has also pushed forward executive orders allowing religious institutions to get out from under the burden of the IRS should those religious institutions speak politically; he’s moving toward kneecapping Dodd-Frank; he’s setting new sanctions on Iran.
Rhetoric. Trump’s rhetoric is, as always, largely ridiculous. His best moments came in introducing Gorsuch, even though the event was studded with reality television touches. But his insipid description of Frederick Douglass in honor of Black History Month drew well-deserved mockery, as did his use of the National Prayer Breakfast to smack Arnold Schwarzenegger; his use of Twitter to discuss foreign policy is foolish. Trump’s Twitter account is always interesting, and it’s sometimes good – his defense of free speech at Berkeley was worthwhile, for example. But imagine if Trump had some message discipline.
The In-Between. Some of Trump’s policy talk this week was fine – he talked about discarding regulations, which is certainly necessary, and he called on Senate Majority Leader McConnell to break the filibuster to get Gorsuch approved, which he should. Then there were his widely-reported conversations with Australia and Mexico, which seemed to be off-the-rails.
The big story of the week wasn’t Trump, of course. It was the left losing its ever-loving mind on everything from Gorsuch to a speech by a Breitbart editor at Berkeley. But Trump continues to push forward policies conservatives can champion.
This week’s grade: an A-.