by Andrew BEATTY / Agence France-Presse
Donald Trump’s first six months in the White House have been a riot of scandal, chaos and outrage that — absent a significant course correction — may spell doom for his whole administration.
All US presidents face crises that appear to sweep the White House from its moorings.
Abraham Lincoln struggled by a bloody Civil War. Bill Clinton was humiliated by muck-raking investigations. Barack Obama took 5 months to plug a devastating oil spill and even longer to proper the financial system.
But few presidents have brought about such outrage or confronted such a large number of crises as Donald Trump has in his first six months.
“To be consumed by scandal from day one is not good, no major legislation is not good, to have approval ratings that are so low and the potential for Republican defections, all of this is not what you expect,” mentioned Julian Zelizer, a professor of historical past at Princeton University.
Trump swaggered into workplace on January 20 declaring Washington was broke and solely a killer businessman corresponding to himself may repair it. That promise appears to be like more and more threadbare.
The White House stays understaffed, under-skilled and struggling to appeal to new expertise. Existing employees there admit to being exhausted and demoralized.
Trump’s political agenda has been blown to smithereens: The border “wall” has not been constructed, NAFTA has not been torn up, the Iran deal continues to be in place and Obamacare stays the legislation of the land.
Even with Republicans in management of each homes of Congress, the influential and nominally supportive Drudge Report declared this the “MOST UNPRODUCTIVE CONGRESS IN 164 YEARS.”
Oratorically, Trump has continued the place his marketing campaign left off, choosing fights with the press, judges, his personal social gathering, Democrats and FBI director James Comey, whom he fired.
All the whereas, a drip, drip of proof has amplified allegations that his household and aides sought assist from Russia to tip the election in opposition to Hillary Clinton.
There have been brilliant spots. The Islamic State group has been nearly defeated in Mosul and in Raqa, the capital of the so-called caliphate, is besieged. Trump has fulfilled his promise to scrap a trans-pacific commerce deal, and efficiently appointed conservative decide Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
But Trump wins have been few and much between. “I don’t see these six months as a success and it’s hard for me to see the argument that it was,” mentioned Zelizer.
– About face? –
But presidents can and do proper the course. Bill Clinton’s first time period was notoriously tough and like Trump he suffered an early and embarrassing legislative defeat on healthcare.
“History is full of examples of presidents who learn from their mistakes and go on to have major legislative successes,” mentioned Alex Conant, a Republican strategist at Firehouse Strategies who served in George W. Bush’s administration.
“Presidents are ultimately judged on what they get done and he’s only six months in. There is still plenty of time for them to do a lot. He could still end up being a highly successful president.”
But adjustments can be wanted, Conant admits. Even Republicans have criticized Trump’s current failed efforts to push his personal healthcare reforms over the line.
With little coverage background, Trump has appeared extra at residence with the theater of the presidency: preferring navy parades in Paris to making coverage speeches and wrangling votes.
“A couple of meetings with Senators and a handful of tweets is not going to cut it on something as controversial as healthcare reform,” mentioned Conant.
But, he argues, Trump nonetheless has the time and a few of the expertise wanted to safe victories, so long as he’s keen to make the pitch.
“His entire life he’s been a very good marketer and during the campaign he did an amazing job energizing the conservative base,” Conant mentioned. “Those are the skills he needs to now apply to governing.”
“In his previous life he was marketing everything from steaks to bottled water to condos with his name on it. Now tax reform is going to have his name on it.”
– Achilles heel? –
But Trump’s character may equally show his administration’s worst enemy.
“A lot of the problems he faces are him, and he’s not going to change his personality,” mentioned Zelizer.
Michael Signer, the Democratic Mayor of Charlottesville and a lecturer at the University of Virginia mentioned “the path to legitimacy” for Trump “would be to signal his embrace of our traditional norms and our checks and balances.”
“The more he refuses to do that, the lower his numbers will go, the more illegitimate his presidency will get and the more desperate he will get.”
If nothing adjustments, Trump’s approval rankings — already traditionally low at 40 % — may portend a shellacking in the 2018 midterm elections.
“If Democrats strengthen their size or gain power in one or both chambers then the president is in for a ride,” mentioned Zelizer, predicting impeachment hearings and wholesale pushback.
“The more cornered he feels, he’s not going to have some diplomatic response. He’ll get angry, he’ll attack his attackers. I don’t think it gets calmer or pretty in the Oval Office, I think as things get intense it’s going to get much uglier.”(AFP)