Depending who you ask about the success or failure of President Donald Trump’s first year in office, you are likely to either get an earful about all the offensive things he has said as president, or hear about all the “winning,” delivered as promised. The reason for the dichotomy in responses certainly is related to one’s partisan beliefs; but, perhaps more important is whether the observer is able to separate Trump the Man, from Trump the Manager.
As a man, Trump is brash, turbulent, and lurches from one gaffe to another as he speaks and tweets whatever appears to occupy his mind. Trump the manager, however, is calculated, driven, and while superficially engaged in squabbles with his opponents, has expertly flouted the D.C. establishment to start a regulatory upheaval unlike anything we have ever seen from a Republican president; including Ronald Reagan.
The reason for Trump’s resounding regulatory successes is no accident. While critics fully expected Trump to surround himself with inexperienced yes-men meant to do nothing more than fluff his ego, Trump instead modeled his administration as an elite football program; where as head coach he could focus on the big picture, leaving the execution of his vision to talented support staff heading the various agencies and positions within the Executive. Almost immediately, they quietly went to work.
Mick Mulvaney, while serving in the cabinet as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, also has made quick work of gutting the onerous Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as its interim director. Trump’s pick for Interior Department Secretary, Ryan Zinke, recently announced “revolutionary” plans to reduce the amount of land owned by the federal government, and return control back to states. Zinke also, from day one, helped open more federal lands to hunters and fishers by eliminating regulatory statutes blocking access to supposedly “public” lands. Scott Pruitt, picked to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has greatly reduced the agency’s budget and staff, while rolling back Obama-era regulations and muzzling the agency’s inappropriate political posturing about global warming. At Education, Secretary Betsy DeVos reversed the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter policy; thereby restoring the Fourth Amendment to college campuses.
These are but a handful of the more public examples of how Trump’s appointees have gone nuclear on D.C.’s regulatory state. More impressively, they have done so almost completely under the radar as the Mainstream Media chooses to focus its attention on smearing Trump at every turn. What has been sour grapes for liberals, however, has provided ample cover for a quiet, conservative revolution in the halls of agencies responsible for billions upon billions of dollars in regulatory red tape.
“There is so much noise in this town that I think it obscures the real work that’s being done,” Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James, told the New York Times. “This administration is doing quite well in terms of advancing a conservative agenda — clearly, quite well.”
Outside the excellent work of his Cabinet, Trump also deserves credit for Nikki Haley, who has proven to be a fierce and deft ambassador of U.S. interests among the vipers nestled at the United Nations. Kudos are due Trump as well as for the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, who was perhaps the very best successor to the seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Then there are also his legislative victories, including a historic tax cut immediately prompting huge corporate investments back into the economy (and into American workforces in the form of bonuses and raises), and killing the odious “Obamacare tax.” Together, these wins along with those from his appointees, amount to as much as conservatives could have hoped for in a first year, especially given initial concerns with Trump during the campaign.
To be sure, Trump’s first year has certainly come with its disappointments; for example, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ obsession with reviving antiquated Drug War era law enforcement on medicinal and recreational marijuana. And, there certainly is ample room for improvement, such as working with Congress to pass dramatic cuts to spending to help offset Year One’s tax cuts, and yet-to-be-passed legislation enhancing firearms rights (e.g. Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, and the Hearing Protection Act). Nevertheless, an objective look at Trump’s first year proves that all the “winning” he promised during the campaign, even if in different and surprisingly positive ways than many of us thought, is very real.