On the 92nd day of his presidency, Donald Trump has decided the idea of his first 100 days in office as a critical yard marker is bunk.
Just before 7 am eastern time, Trump tweeted this:
But! Wait! There’s a bunch of things wrong with this Trump tweet.
The most obvious is that the media didn’t create the idea of the first 100 days as an important moment, Franklin Delano Roosevelt did. Roosevelt saw the first 100 days of his term in 1933 as an absolutely essential moment to re-build momentum and optimism in a country that was still reeling from the Great Depression. He helped pass 15 major pieces of legislation through a willing Congress.
Now, onto the other problems with Trump’s tweet.
If you recall the 2016 campaign, one of Trump’s central arguments during it was that the nation’s capitol was horribly run by incompetent people. That if you elected someone who knew their way around a boardroom, you’d see a rapid improvement in peoples’ quality of life.
“You’re going to have such great healthcare at a tiny fraction of the cost, and it is going to be so easy,” Trump promised at a Florida rally in October 2016.
“So simple. So simple,” Trump said of his plan to get Mexico to pay for the border wall in an interview with Bill O’Relly in August 2015.
“You know the Great Wall of China, built a long time ago, is 13,000 miles. I mean, you’re talking about big stuff. We’re talking about peanuts, by comparison, to that. Mexico will pay for the wall. I will make sure it gets done properly.”
“This money can all be saved through simple, common sense reforms,” Trump said by way of explanation of how he would cut $800 million from government spending in order to make his tax plan add up.
Nothing in Washington is that easy. There’s a reason, for example, that six previous presidents failed to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system and it cost the seventh, Barack Obama, control of the House and Senate to get it done. Big, complex issues are, well, big and complex. You don’t just snap your fingers and get them done.
Then there’s the specific construct of the 100 days as a critical way station by which to judge a president. Trump, today, says it is a pointless media construct that henever bought into.
A speech he gave in October 2016 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania shows that’s simply not true. And I quote:
“On Nov. 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our country, secure our communities and honesty to our government. This is my pledge to you. And if we follow these steps, we will once more have a government of, by and for the people. And importantly, we will make America great again. Believe me.”
He expressly said that that the 2016 election was a referendum on his 100-day plan! That if he won it would be because of a promise to implement a series of changes that would give power back to the people, and, in Trump’s own famous words “Make America great again.” Hell he even had a 100-day action plan on his website!
And, for the previous 90 days or so, all of the reporting coming out of the White House made clear just how important Trump viewed the 100-day mark. This, from a Politico story published earlier this month, is telling:
“President Donald Trump has far more than three years left in his first term. But inside his pressure cooker of a White House, aides and advisers are sweating the next three weeks….The date, April 29, hangs over the West Wing like the sword of Damocles as the unofficial deadline to find its footing — or else.”
So, President Trump was for the 100 days mark mattering before he was against it. It doesn’t matter now and it’s a media creation now because the report cards on Trump’s first 100 days aren’t so rosy. You can bet that if Trump was getting good marks for his first 100 days in office, this marker would be a critical and essential judgment on his presidency.