President Donald Trump’s first six months have been defined by his often angry and tasteless tweets, his ham-handed efforts to denigrate and undercut the multiple investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election, and the stalemated legislative battle to repeal and replace Obamacare.
But Trump is right in saying he has significantly influenced government and the nation’s image — though much of his impact has been negative. His most significant clear-cut triumph was installing conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. He can take credit for slowing the inflow of illegal immigrants. And his impact has gone well beyond that, a conclusion on which two recent articles from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum agreed.
“While You Obsessed Over Trump’s Scandals, He’s Fundamentally Changed The Country” was the headline of a Sam Stein piece in the liberal HuffPost. “Reporters Only Want To Talk About Russia, Instead Of What Team Trump Is Getting Done,” was part of the headline over conservative Kimberly Strassel’s column in The Wall Street Journal.
With contrary attitudes, they cited some identical examples, from authorizing the Dakota Access pipeline to easing environmental restrictions on energy protection.
Strassel hailed the Fish and Wildlife Service for slowing an endangered species listing for the Texas Hornshell, a freshwater mussel she said “threatens significant harm to the Texas economy.” Stein expressed concern over easing Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements for reporting worker injury data and letting coal companies dump debris into local streams.
Here are some other Trump achievements:
Embraced autocrats in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Philippines and Egypt and abandoned longtime U.S. leadership in seeking to enhance democracy and human rights.
Insulted U.S. allies in Europe and undercut longstanding U.S. treaty commitments.
Compromised Israel’s intelligence sources.
Spurred more divisiveness in an already divided Middle East by setting off a squabble between Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally, and Qatar, home of the region’s biggest U.S. military base.
Undermined U.S. global leadership on climate change by withdrawing from the Paris agreement.
Reversed decades of Republican support for free trade, ceding leadership in Asia to China by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and elsewhere by encouraging the British exit from the European community.
Proposed a budget with massive cuts that would shred the social safety net and cripple longstanding governmental functions.
Created uncertainty in the nation’s health care system by sending inconsistent administrative signals and supporting legislation that could deprive millions of people health insurance coverage, undermine Medicaid health support for lower-income Americans, and give wealthy taxpayers a massive tax cut.
Mismanaged the federal government by failing to fill many top spots and installing an inexperienced, dysfunctional White House staff.
Expanded the policy of deporting dangerous illegal aliens by including many people with minimal records, stable jobs and American families.
Created a commission to investigate his unproven allegations of voter fraud because he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
Reversed decades of bipartisan cooperation in extending environmental preservation of national landmarks.
Hired foxes to watch the chicken coops by filling his administration with archconservatives, many with records opposing the very agencies in which they work.
Committed potentially impeachable offenses of obstructing justice that prompted appointment of a special counsel by firing FBI Director James Comey, because of his probe into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia, and urging other intelligence officials to pressure Comey to halt the probe.
Undermined the courts with denunciations of judges and their decisions affecting his administration’s policies, especially those curbing his hastily issued ban on Muslim travel from certain countries.
Without evidence, accused former President Barack Obama of illegally wiretapping his phones.
Repeatedly misrepresented his administration’s policies and trashed officials with whom he has disagreements, calling the ousted Comey “a nut job,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer the “head clown” and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi an “incompetent.”
Intensified racial and other divisions by reducing governmental civil rights guarantees and reversing protections for sexual and racial minorities.
Violated his own self-proclaimed ethics laws by allowing officials to deal with issues affecting their former employers. Permitted multiple instances in which he and other family members benefit financially from his presidency.
Waged a vendetta against news outlets subjecting his administration to scrutiny, calling the mainstream media the “enemy of the American people” and denouncing unfavorable stories as “fake news.” Undercut White House press institutions intended to facilitate dialogue between the presidency and the public.
Trump has failed so far to enact promised measures to increase economic growth, resulting in reduced long-term forecasts. Many economic numbers he touts exaggerate his impact and denigrate the carryover effect of positive Obama policies. Military progress against the Islamic State has not eased its terrorist threat.
The result: the least support for any new modern president, an exacerbation of domestic divisions, and unprecedented global disdain and embarrassment.