About a month ago, at his first full cabinet meeting, Donald Trump spoke very highly of himself. “Never has there been a president, with few exceptions – case of FDR, he had a major depression to handle – who has passed more legislation and who has done more things than what we’ve done,” the Republican said.
It was an odd boast for a president who has no meaningful accomplishments and has signed no major bills.
This week, during an interview with Reuters, Trump was a little more specific in explaining why he’s so impressed with himself. From the excepted transcript:
“We have done more in five months than practically any president in history.”
“If you look at Iraq and if you look at Syria and you see the progress we’ve made with ISIS, it’s been almost complete.”
“The White House is functioning beautifully. The stock market has hit a new high. Job numbers are the best they’ve been in 16 years. We have a Supreme Court judge already confirmed. Energy is doing levels that we’ve never done before. Our military is doing well. We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS, which Obama wasn’t. There’s not a thing that we’re not doing well in.”
Trump hasn’t demonstrated any meaningful interest in, or knowledge of, presidential history, so it’s possible he actually believes he’s already accomplished more “than practically any president in history,” but reality points in a very different direction.
Indeed, let’s go through Trump’s list of purported successes:
* Trump believe his efforts to combat ISIS are “nearly complete.” I have no idea what that means, but the fact remains that Trump is really just implementing Barack Obama’s policy against ISIS.
* “The White House is functioning beautifully.” If only that were true. The White House, gripped by scandal, is split into competing and hostile factions, which routinely leak dirt against one another. No one in the West Wing has demonstrated any real proficiency in any area of governing.
* “The stock market has hit a new high.” That’s true, but if Wall Street performance is evidence of a successful president, I’ll look forward to Trump making the case for Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s greatness.
* “Job numbers are the best they’ve been in 16 years.” That’s also true, but unemployment was dropping years before Trump even launched his campaign. Besides, these are the same job numbers Trump spent months condemning as fake before his election.
* “We have a Supreme Court judge already confirmed.” Yes, but that required no real effort on Trump’s part, and was the result of an unprecedent theft orchestrated by Senate Republicans.
* “Energy is doing levels that we’ve never done before.” I don’t know what that means, but Trump hasn’t significantly altered U.S. energy policies.
* “Our military is doing well.” I’m glad, but this is a vague and subjective observations, and it isn’t a policy accomplishment in any meaningful sense.
* “We’re knocking the hell out of ISIS, which Obama wasn’t.” Again, Trump is simply implementing Obama’s policy on ISIS.
* “There’s not a thing that we’re not doing well in.” I can’t think of anything Trump and his team are “doing well in,” and given the president’s own list of successes, he’s struggling to think of accomplishments, too.