The Rules Still Apply
So what have we learned since January 20th?
We’ve learned that we should’ve taken then-candidate Trump both literally AND seriously, instead of just literally. He has followed through on several of his campaign promises, mainly focused on immigration, both from the south and from abroad. He has issued an Executive Order requiring that for every one regulation that is formulated, two must be eliminated (which I can get behind). On his first day in office, he signed an Order that would begin “easing the burdens” of the Affordable Care Act (whatever that means). President Trump also early on signaled through an Executive Order that the United States would not be participating in the TPP trade deal. I say signal, because nothing official had actually happened with the plan at that point anyway.
But President Trump has also fallen short of a couple of his campaign promises as well. Most notably, President Trump and those in his administration have repeatedly voiced their continuing support for NATO, an organization Trump questioned several times during the campaign in regards to its continued viability or usefulness. As an aside, I’m a huge fan of this video of Theresa May calling Trump out on NATO support (statement at 1:15):
Additionally, while not necessarily a campaign promise, the irony of reports of Trump tweeting from an unsecured phone and holding security briefings in public cannot go unnoticed.
But I think that the most important thing we have learned over these past couple of weeks is that the rules still apply.
After President Trump issued his highly controversial travel ban, halting the entire refugee program and specifically targeting seven majority-Muslim countries, court cases immediately started flowing into the system. Most notably, a federal judge in Washington state, James L. Robart (a George W. Bush nominee, I might add), temporarily halted the ban, which then prompted a hearing from a three-judge panel comprised of judges from the 9th circuit court of appeals. This panel upheld the ban in a unanimous decision last Thursday. The word unanimous is important here. One of the three judges of the panel was also a George W. Bush nominee. Two Republicans, two Democrats, all opposed. This, along with more than a dozen Republican members of Congress who disagree in some way, shape or form, with Trump’s Executive Order.
In response to last Thursday’s decision, Trump tweeted this:
OK, aside from being a little sophomoric (and the fact that they were already in court), this tweet is actually very telling, in a good way. It shows that, despite all that has transpired over the past few weeks, there is still an acknowledgement on the part of President Trump that the courts are the place that things like this should be hashed out. Not arbitrary firings, or more Executive Orders, or what have you. It is even more heartening to see something like this when you take into consideration his “so-called judge” comments. Now, to be completely fair, I really don’t think the President literally thinks Judge Robart is a judge in name only. I think that comment was President Trump’s way (albeit misguided) of expressing his discontent with the judge’s ruling.
The other indication that Trump has not completely turned Washington on its head is the stepping down/firing/whatever you want to call it of Michael Flynn from his post as National Security Advisor. Announced late Monday night, Michael Flynn tendered his resignation to the President, who accepted it. Now, there are about ten different stories about how/why this happened, and its anyone’s guess and to which one is the truth, but the fact that it happened at all is reassuring. Given Trump’s obsession over appearances and aversion to admit that he was wrong, it is in fact almost a little surprising that this happened. By firing/accepting the resignation of General Flynn, not only is he implicitly admitting that General Flynn was not the best choice for the job, but it creates a very overt appearance that things are not going smoothly (not that that wasn’t already the case). But up until now, while there have been rumblings of staff shake ups, including rumors that President Trump was not satisfied with the jobs that Press Secretary Sean “Spicey” Spicer and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, no staff shake-ups have actually occurred. This is the first admittance by the Trump administration that even the best laid plans (and Trump has the best plans, everyone tells him. Period), oft go awry.