Donald Trump's presidency is fast approaching the "first 100 days" milestone, and he seems to be trying to set his own record during this period -- a record of breaking more campaign promises than any previous president ever has during his first 100 days. This week brought on a flurry of flip-flops, perhaps signaling that in the remaining two weeks or so Trump will be trying to outdo himself in the broken promises category.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently signaled that Senate Democrats might have a rather interesting bargaining chip if the Republicans are really serious about wanting a massive tax reform deal later this year. Schumer hasn't totally drawn a line in the sand over the issue yet, but I personally think this would be a good line to draw: force the public release of Donald Trump's tax returns, or Democrats will not deal on tax reform, period. In fact, this week would be the perfect week to make such a demand, since millions of Americans are currently struggling to fill out their own income tax returns before next week's deadline.
Schumer should go on one of the Sunday morning talk shows this week and say something along the lines of the following:
You know what? I think every American who is currently filling out their income tax returns deserves to see President Trump's taxes. So I'd like to announce that Senate Democrats will have no interest in making a deal with Republicans on tax reform unless part of that deal is the public release of Trump's tax returns for 2015 and 2014. If we're going to negotiate over how to change America's tax system, then the public deserves to know precisely how each proposed change will personally affect the president. It's only fair, after all, and we don't think this is too much to ask.
Sometimes I re-run columns because either (1) I am too lazy to write that day, or (2) I have other real-world commitments that take me away from my keyboard. But there's a third category, too, which is applicable today. Sometimes a recent event in the news gets me thinking about a subject, and then I realize: "I've already written about this." So I go back and re-read my original article. Sometimes it has become woefully dated and out-of-touch, but other times the commentary is still valid and worth consideration.
Today's topic is the mess United Airlines now finds themselves in, after video of a passenger being forcefully dragged off an airplane (even though he had a reserved seat) went viral. Not only viral, but all over prime-time news as well.
Without getting into all the details (which are widely available right now, if anyone doesn't know what I'm talking about), one aspect of the P.R. disaster struck me. Corporations are now vulnerable to these videos of corporate bad behavior, and they can pay a heavy price for them. United Airlines has proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Late last week, President Donald Trump ordered a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airfield, in an escalation of the United States' participation in the Syrian civil war. While it's still too early to come to a definitive conclusion about the effect this airstrike had -- in either the military situation, the foreign policy of the Trump administration, or the raw domestic politics involved, a few preliminary assessments can now be made.
The U.S. Navy launched 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian airfield, of which 58 successfully hit their targets (one malfunctioned on launch). That sounds like a lot of firepower, but to the American military, this was nothing more than a "pinprick" attack.
It turns out that Donald Trump is pretty good at predicting his own future behavior. You just have to change the names, that's all. A while back, Trump tweeted out the following: "Now that Obama's poll numbers are in tailspin -- watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate."
This week, Donald Trump's poll numbers matched the lowest point Barack Obama ever hit (in his whole eight years) on the Real Clear Politics "daily average job approval" polling page: only 39.8 percent of Americans approved of the job Trump has been doing. Days later, Trump launched an airstrike on Syria. "Desperate" indeed.
OK, I'm going to start today by apologizing both for this article and for that title. The article's apology is for its frivolous nature, and the title's apology will become obvious in due course. I do realize there are momentous things happening in the political world that I really should be writing about today, but I am instead choosing to ignore it all until tomorrow because I saw this little blurb of news:
President Donald Trump now faces multiple foreign policy situations which could easily become full-blown crises in a very short time. So far, his response has been rather underwhelming, and even that's being charitable. Some might describe it as downright incoherent, in fact. While this isn't too surprising for those who have been paying attention, this time the result could be a lot more significant than a piece of legislation dying in the House because Republicans can't agree among themselves.
Trump, of course, has never been a slave to consistency when it comes to foreign policy (or domestic policy, for that matter). When Barack Obama was president, it was easy enough to be against whatever Obama was for in true knee-jerk fashion. Hey, it worked for most Republicans, so it wasn't like Trump came up with the idea himself or anything. Trump flourished among his base by denouncing anything Obama did and making sweeping promises of what he'd do, with precisely nothing to back them up. He supposedly had a secret plan for dealing with the Islamic State. He was going to bomb them into submission, no matter the collateral damage. He might just go in and take all the Iraqi oil, as spoils of war. He was going to keep the Russians out of the Crimea (!). He was going to scrap the "worst deal ever" with Iran. Russians wouldn't dare provoke American warships, and neither would Iranian naval boats. North Korea wouldn't dare move their nuclear program forward. China would change their trade policy towards the United States, and would furthermore keep North Korea in check, just because Trump told them to do so. By sheer force of personality, Trump was going to stare down the world's leaders and make them blink, because he would threaten to unleash the awesomeness of American military upon any country who dared defy him.
Last Monday, I wrote about how bad Donald Trump's poll numbers have been, pointing out that he got absolutely no honeymoon from the public. I never thought I'd be writing about Trump's poll numbers again so quickly, but then everything about the Trump presidency seems to operate at warp speed, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Today, Donald Trump hit a milestone in job approval polling -- he is now at the lowest point Barack Obama ever had, in eight full years. Trump's average daily job approval at RealClearPolitics.com is now a dismal 39.8 percent. His disapproval rating stands at 53.3 percent. And he's not even through his first 100 days.
Donald Trump's poll numbers are now worse than Obama saw during his entire first term, in fact. Trump has set new lows in less than three months, to put this another way. Obama's lowest daily approval average during his first term came on October 9, 2011, when he hit 42.0 percent. Obama's highest disapproval rate came a few weeks earlier, on August 30, when 53.2 percent of the public disapproved of the job he was doing. That was over two and a half years into his first term. Trump has topped both numbers, on only his 75th day in office. Trump's approval rate is now 2.2 points lower than Obama saw in his first four years, and his disapproval rate is 0.1 percent above what Obama saw in his first term. That's pretty stunning.
This could be a historic week for the Senate, as it now seems likely that the Republicans will change the chamber's rules to remove the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. This is known, in Washingtonese, as "going nuclear" or "dropping the nuke." That's a pretty powerful metaphor, which was intended to show the far-reaching consequences of making such a move. But as we begin this epic debate, it would behoove everyone inside the Beltway (especially those working in the media) to review a quick rundown of how, exactly, we got to this point. Because this won't be the first Senate filibuster nuke, and it may not be the last one -- at this point, who knows if the legislative filibuster will survive for much longer?
The first nuclear option happened four years ago. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped the nuke on filibustering all executive branch appointments and all judicial appointments up to (but not including) the Supreme Court. This week's nuke will be the removal of the last remaining executive branch appointee filibuster, on the confirmation of Supreme Court justices.
None of this happened in a vacuum, of course. Neil Gorsuch would likely have been confirmed rather easily if these were normal times, absent the history of how Merrick Garland was treated. But that history exists, of course, which is why over 40 Democrats are going to do everything possible to stop Gorsuch's confirmation.
Will tomorrow be any different at the White House? Since we all seem to now be living in Bizarro World, wouldn't that tend to make you think that we'd get no foolishness from our president on April Fool's Day? I mean, in an April Fool's Year, shouldn't one day be set aside for nonfoolery? Maybe even that's too much to ask from this fool's paradise of a White House.