Soon after Donald J. Trump was sworn-in as the nation’s 45th president his team entered the White House and started blasting away in all directions, shotgun style, with directives and orders. When the week was over Trump had signed numerous executive orders and presidential memorandums; he had needlessly angered Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto over funding the border wall; and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, called the media “the opposition party,” which should “keep its mouth shut.”
For months Trump promised to “make America safe again.” Perhaps he thinks his broad executive order to temporarily ban visitors from seven predominately Muslim countries, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya will make us safe. But the news services have verified that no citizen of those countries has been involved in a terrorist attack in the United States. And why weren’t countries whose citizens have perpetrated terrorist attacks in the U.S. included, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates?
So should we feel safe now? Remember, Trump ordered all Obama appointed U.S. ambassadors (30 percent) to leave their posts on inauguration day; key national security positions have not been filled by the incoming administration; and white supremacist supporter Steve Bannon has replaced the Director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the National Security Council’s Principals Committee.
Are we safer because four top State Department officials were asked to leave their posts last Wednesday? These officials had served in both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades. And along with earlier resignations and retirements these departures resulted in a near-complete exodus of senior, irreplaceable State Department officials that manage the department both here and overseas. Shouldn’t we be concerned about that?
Trump proudly signed one order to build his “beautiful” wall on the Mexican border and another to greatly increase the size of the military, which already has no equal in the world. But only Congress has the authority to fund these projects and they won’t be completed for months, if ever. Did these orders make us safer this week or were they just for show?
Thankfully not all of Trump’s initiatives succeeded. The Trump team imposed what amounted to gag orders on the EPA and several other agencies, but they had to rescind them under pressure. They also had to walk back the federal government hiring freeze for the Veteran’s Administration. And their directive to halt Obamacare ads and outreach by the Health and Human Services Department was cancelled due to strong objections. It seems that ideology doesn’t always win out over common sense if people will just keep up the pressure.
It has been reported that most of Trump’s executive orders were cranked out by staffers without significant input from lawmakers or lawyers for the involved agencies. Consequently some may be unworkable, unenforceable or illegal. But I don’t think Trump and his staff care if the orders are illegal or if businesses are disrupted or if people get hurt. They are hell bent on pleasing Trump’s base.
It is understandable that a new administration is eager to show early progress on the campaign promises that the candidate made. But the actions taken should be carefully thought out and vetted by the agencies affected. Well, it is becoming increasingly clear that many of the early actions by the Trump administration were hip shots that will likely have unintended consequences.
But of the many troubling things that occurred during this first week of the Trump administration one of the most troubling to me was the continuing attack on the media. The last thing we need is a media that keeps its mouth shut.
During a speech at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters Trump said members of the media were “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” Yet the Washington Post documented 24 of Trump’s false claims, inaccurate statements and exaggerations just during last week. Many, like his claim that he held the all-time record of being on the cover of Time Magazine, were simply self-serving falsehoods. He is obsessed with his image. But Trump’s claim that millions of people aren’t insured anymore because of the Affordable Care Act was a Washington Post Four-Pinocchio whopper. This man tries to create his own reality.
During the primary campaign and the presidential campaign both Republicans and Democrats warned that Trump was unfit to be president. So far I don’t think he is doing anything to prove them wrong.