Trump’s first fifty days: dangerously incompetent

Originally published March 23, 2017 at wfuogb.com.

Last December, I wrote a piece for the Old Gold & Black describing the necessity to work with the then President-elect Trump. As pessimistic as I was about his chances to be successful, the idea of wholly dismissing the winning candidate seemed counterproductive.

I predicted that someone as inexperienced in government as himself would need an enormous amount of help, and that if said help came from unqualified or untrustworthy Cabinet individuals, the country would have much to worry about. Unfortunately, my prediction was accurate.

In the short time that Trump has been in office, the White House has been overwhelmed by incompetence and a general disconnect from reality.

Trump seems to have surrounded himself with people just as inexperienced in government as himself; his closest advisors and chief-of-staff have never served in elected office or in the federal bureaucracy. Neither has his secretary of state, whose role appears to be significantly diminished and out-of-the-loop compared with previous secretaries.

The only people who’ve brought strong experience from outside the private sector are the former military generals serving in Defense and Homeland Security. You would think that these two would bring order and calm. Yet Trump’s infamous immigration executive order, which was so badly written and implemented that it was shot down by a judge little more than a week after issuance, got neither of their approvals or guidance.

More importantly, multiple cabinet members are already involved in scandal. His National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned less than a month after it became known that he lied about having contact with the government of Russia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in a similar predicament. In his case, the lying occurred under oath, during his Senate confirmation hearing.

The full extent of Trump’s collusion with Russia, which U.S. intelligence believes hacked the DNC to help his election, remains to be seen. It could simply be foolish behavior or it could be treason. Regardless, every day that new information comes out, the less legitimate the president becomes.

He also has failed to nominate individuals to hundreds of sub-Cabinet level positions, which need staff to function properly. Additionally, three of his original Cabinet nominees, including the heads of the Army and the Navy, withdrew.

More embarrassingly, the president continues to use Twitter to send poorly-written insults to congressmen, businesses and celebrities. His war with the press, which has escalated — now calling them “the enemy of the American people” and “fake news” — has been widely criticized as comparable to the tactics of authoritarian states.

And despite this proclaimed hatred of the media, cable news seems to exercise much influence on the president’s agenda, who watches the news every day, going so far as to live-tweet along with “Fox and Friends” one morning.

Most worrisome of all, he tweeted an accusation that President Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower during the election. Despite credible Obama administration officials not only denying it, but explaining how it wouldn’t be possible without a special warrant, which the current president would be able to find out about, the Trump administration is now demanding a Congressional investigation, which not only wastes time and money, but destroys trust and credibility.

You’ll note that in this piece I’ve criticized little actual policy. Thus far, Trump’s policy seems like what one would expect from any generic Republican in 2017. The problems with his environmental policy, immigration policy and tax policy, for example, are endemic of the GOP and not unique to Trump.

Nor did I mention the number of weekends the president has spent at Mar-A-Lago in Florida or the fact that he hasn’t divested from his international financial holdings, which present conflicts-of-interest in nearly every decision he’ll make in office.

This president is so incompetent and dangerous that those things feel trivial. Our foreign allies are confused, as are American citizens, who wake up every morning not knowing what the president has in store.

It’s been fifty days. I’ve given him a chance to govern and to act responsibly. He’s failed to do so. Hillary Clinton wasn’t wrong to focus on Trump’s temperament during the campaign. It remains to be his greatest weakness and currently our country’s greatest liability. Too many voters failed to see that last year, but hopefully, they’ll see it soon.