President Donald Trump’s first six months have been defined by his often angry and tasteless tweets, his ham-handed efforts to denigrate and undercut the multiple investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election and the stalemated legislative battle to repeal and replace Obamacare.
But Trump is right in saying he has significantly influenced government and the nation’s image — though much of his impact has been negative. His most significant clear-cut triumph was installing conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. He can take credit for slowing the inflow of illegal immigrants. And his impact has gone well beyond that, a conclusion on which two recent articles from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum agreed.
“While You Obsessed over Trump’s Scandals, He’s Fundamentally Changed the Country,” headlined Sam Stein in the liberal HuffPost. “Reporters only want to talk about Russia, instead of what Team trump is getting done,” was part of the headline over conservative Kimberly Strassel’s column in The Wall Street Journal.
With contrary attitudes, they cited some identical examples, from authorizing the Dakota Access Pipeline to easing environmental restrictions on energy protection.
Strassel hailed the Fish and Wildlife Service for slowing an endangered species listing for the Texas Hornshell, a freshwater mussel she said “threatens significant harm to the Texas economy.” Stein expressed concern over easing Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements for reporting worker injury data and letting coal companies dump debris into local streams.
Here are some other Trump “achievements:”
-Embraced autocrats in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Egypt and abandoned longtime U.S leadership in seeking to enhance democracy and human rights.
-Insulted U.S. allies in Europe, especially Germany, and undercut longstanding U.S. treaty commitments.
-Compromised Israel’s intelligence sources.
-Spurred more divisiveness in an already divided Middle East by setting off a squabble between Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally, and Qatar, home of the region’s biggest U.S. military base.
-Undermined U.S. global leadership on climate change by withdrawing from the Paris agreement, joining only Syria and Nicaragua as nonparticipants.
-Reversed decades of Republican support for free trade, ceding leadership in Asia to China by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and elsewhere by encouraging the British exit from the European Community.
-Proposed a budget with massive cuts that would shred the social safety net and cripple longstanding governmental functions.
-Created uncertainty in the nation’s health care system by sending inconsistent administrative signals and supporting legislation that could deprive millions of people health insurance coverage, undermine Medicaid health support for lower income Americans and give wealthy taxpayers a massive tax cut.
-Mismanaged the federal government by failing to fill many top spots and installing an inexperienced, dysfunctional White House staff.