The First Hundred Days

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Like many Americans I wake up every morning in the vague awareness that there is a dark cloud hanging over the country, and once I’m completely awake I realize that we’re still living in the nightmare of the Trump presidency.  I cannot remember ever having spent my first waking moments thinking about who is the US President, except maybe the morning after an election, but with Trump it’s a different story.  In my lifetime there has never been a president who is so blatantly unqualified and simultaneously so convinced of his superior judgment, at least externally.  Similarly, I have never seen or heard anybody, whether president or not, who is so existentially dishonest.  You cannot even call Trump a liar, because lying is a deliberate act, a conscious divergence of the truth.  Trump doesn’t know truth, facts that can objectively be verified, and therefore cannot diverge from it.  The only reality he can recognize is the chaos in his own head, where contradictory and unfinished thoughts and impulses are constantly competing, until a winner emerges to be blurred out in an ad-lib or a series of tweets.

And yet, large numbers of Americans don’t have the same problem.  According to an ABC News poll that came out today 96% of Trump’s voters still support him, and 42% of Americans approve of Trump’s presidency so far.  That is the lowest approval rate for any president almost 100 days into his presidency since this kind of polling started, but it’s still very generous towards a madman who has not achieved anything except having an Associate Justice confirmed by violating a longstanding Senate tradition.  It makes you wonder what the mindset is of diehard Trump supporters.  Do they have a similar chaos in their heads to the one that flourishes under Trump’s rug?  Some of them undoubtedly do, but they cannot be the majority.  Do they only care about the man, and not about his policies, and feel gratified by his stupefying unpredictableness? Again, some undoubtedly do, but the majority probably believes that Trump will still deliver on his wildest promises, in spite of his failures to impose a Muslim ban, to repeal Obamacare, to implement comprehensive tax reform, and to build a wall, as will become clear next week.

In fact, Trump’s failures so far explain why most of his voters still support him.  Had the American Health Care Act replaced Obamacare and had massive tax cuts for corporations and the ultra-rich been signed into law by Trump, at the expense of entitlements that benefit the poor and the middle class, he would have lost a significant percentage of them, who would have been hurt badly by the new policies.  Paradoxically, only by continuing to fail can he keep their support.

Trump of course is not aware of this, and his failures come naturally.  He is still suggesting that Congress is close to passing a health care bill, something members of the House are not aware of, and he will announce major tax cuts by the middle of next week.  His main problem though is that next Friday, the 100th day of his presidency, the government will run out of money.

Seasoned political hands know that a government shut-down always hurts the party in power, but Trump insists that a budget bill contains an allocation for the border wall before he signs it.  Unless someone talks him off the ledge we could see him fall real hard next week.

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