I had to spend some reflective moments before saying this out loud-- the notion that these first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency are the best opening 14 weeks of any presidency since I’ve been alive.
I’m not eighty, but I’m not thirty, either. I was born in the year of Dwight Eisenhower’s second inauguration, 1957. So, presuming my choices will be culled from Republican presidents, my choices are Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes and Trump. The ascendancy of Gerald Ford, splashed across our history in the messy wake of Watergate, did not exactly unfold with the kind of initiatory agenda that freshly elected Presidents get.
So, since I carry the proper conservative veneration of the Reagan years, the only real hurdle is: have Trump’s first 100 days been even better than Reagan’s?
Let’s stipulate that if, once Donald Trump’s presidential service is over, he deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Reagan, we will have been blessed indeed. That’s not today’s question. Awash in “100 Days” mania, the exercise of the moment is a detailed look at only that period of presidential history. So the apples-and-apples comparison is January 20 through the end of April, 1981 versus now.
Reagan steps up to the plate with a leadoff grand slam-- the release of our hostages from Iran on Inauguration Day, as Iranian mullahs sensed that the days of a weak American presidency were over.
The end of the malaise-ridden Jimmy Carter era ushered in other improvements immediately. The mere aura of a President who intended to rebuild our military and show strength to the world was invigorating, even before specific agenda items were unpacked.
Once they were, from tax cuts to regulatory reform, it became clear that Reagan’s intent was to begin the task of dismantling the ruinous depression-era New Deal instincts FDR had hatched in order to usher in a new era of expansionist, collectivist government.
I was in my early twenties, and it felt great. Optimism abounded as Reagan set up shop for a whole new system of how the individual would interact with the state.
Then, on his 69th day, he was shot. But the vigorous new President, even at age 70, recovered in time to address a joint session of Congress before his first 100 days elapsed. How in the world could anyone top that?
For drama, it seems impossible. But the best 100 days comparisons involve policies rather than unexpected traumas, no matter how compelling. So, with proper homage to every magnificent day of the Reagan presidency, here is why Trump’s first 100 days are my lifetime favorite:
While historians and policy wonks properly examine everything he has said and not said, and done and not done, I begin with a glorious truth that is draped around every day of the new Trump presidency: Hillary Clinton is not President.
So this counts? Trump starts to amass 100 Days points just by not being Hillary? He absolutely does. Look at the bullets we dodge with each passing hour because he attracted a coalition that prevented her victory—additional years of a sluggish economy, unreliable global leadership, the guarantee of more years of disastrous spending, a parade of activist tyrants in judicial robes— whatever kind of President Trump will be, it is instantly light-years better than the fate we could be enduring had November 8 gone differently.
But the sharpest focus of his 100 days arrives with the list of things he has changed simply by occupying the office. At no point was he the most conservative candidate on any 2016 debate stage, yet the metaphoric stage is now set for conservative results that were just recently the stuff of dreams.
Borders mean something again, and America is actually going to pay attention to who enters the nation, and keep track of them once they are here.
Job creation is again a major focus of economic policy, promising growth that finally provides some progress out of our abyss of debt. Tax reform gives businesses and individuals hope that they will no longer be punished for success.
Terrorists and tyrants the world over have already been served notice that the years of “leading from behind” are over. Our allies know they can rely on us, and our enemies know they should not underestimate us.
Our military can swell with pride under a Commander-in-Chief that has their backs, supporting them in sincere spirit and with the nuts-and-bolts promise of refurbished aircraft and expanded naval fleets.
Americans sick of seeing their faith mocked and sidelined will enjoy a President who will blast through the political correctness that is the foremost enemy of Judeo-Christian belief.
The regulatory state, which strangles job creation, hamstrings banks and shackles individual initiative, is on its way to a long-deserved dismantling.
Our energy policy once again embraces American energy sources, from cleaner coal to new oil technologies to natural gas. Renewables and alternative options will be welcome, but gone are the days when they are force-fed to us by activist politicians hostile to human productivity.
Sanity has returned to the climate debate. The junk science of presumed man-made global warming will wither under the harsh light of proper scrutiny, but there is good news for all: we will be good stewards of the planet because it is the right thing to do, not because Al Gore thinks the oceans will soon swallow Miami.
Has there been a legislative stubbed toe on one of the main Trump agenda items? There has, and the next flight of Obamacare repeal needs to go better than the launch pad explosion we went through last month. But does anyone doubt that the result will be infinitely superior to the dark prospects we would have faced under Hillary Clinton?
And to return to Mrs. Clinton for just one more thing-- If there is one item that nudges the Trump 100 days to the top of my lifetime list, it is the outright rescue of our Republic by a Supreme Court justice who could spend the next three or four decades weighing cases not on personal or political whim, but on constitutional precepts.
Every other item I’ve mentioned is a work in progress. The Trump agenda that unfolds in the coming years will contain twists, turns, and some measures of successes and failures. But Neil Gorsuch is there now, standing guard every day against the tyrannical nonsense of the type that tells a sitting President he cannot enact a travel ban or withhold funding from sanctuary cities.
Imagine one, two, or three justices on the Supreme Court, twisting the rule of law into a pretzel of political mischief. This is the barrel we would be staring down if Hillary Clinton had won.
So accordingly, yes, part of my constant joy in these 100 days of Trump is the frequent revisitation of how blessed we are that he has rescued us from her clutches.
Make no mistake. The Reagan years are my gold standard for the presidency. My loftiest dreams hesitate to dare to imagine holding Trump in the same regard come January 2025.
But who knows?
Here’s what we do know. For all the relief and vigor we felt in Reagan’s first 100 days, it was a fortunate rebound from the ineptitude of Jimmy Carter. Trump’s victory is an opportunity to dig out of a far deeper and darker hole. In 2016, with our image around the world eroded, our economy depressed, our debt exploding and our constitution bludgeoned, America had an opportunity to invite further doses of the same poisons, or save ourselves.