The symbolic 100-day mark by which modern presidents are judged menaces for an image-obsessed chief executive whose opening sprint has been marred by legislative stumbles, legal setbacks, senior staff kneecapping one another, the resignation of his national security adviser and near-daily headlines and headaches about links to Russia.
What was Trump supposed to have accomplished in the first 100 days? That’s not clear, but the things he promised to do in his first one day included repealing Obamacare, starting on the wall, fixing the VA, putting in place a 35 percent tariff on companies that move jobs overseas, and designating China a currency manipulator. Of these, Trump has achieved … well, he did ask for bids on wall bits. There was also a promise that he would extract from “his generals” a plan to defeat ISIS within 30 days, which seems to have turned into a quiet agreement to just carry on with what President Obama was doing.
The Pentagon has given him a secret plan, but it turns out to be a little more than an “intensification” of the same slow and steady approach that Trump derided under the Obama administration, two senior officials who have reviewed the document told NBC News.
The Affordable Care Act is still there, everything that Trump promised is not—except for some of his moves to boot those “beautiful babies” back into a war zone. Despite Trump’s claim of one of the most successful 13 weeks in presidential history just 11 weeks in, the real 100 day mark is looming, and if this was supposed to be Trump’s honeymoon, Team Trump is not working desperately to stave off a messy divorce.
“One hundred days is the marker, and we’ve got essentially two-and-a-half weeks to turn everything around,” said one White House official. “This is going to be a monumental task.”
For a president who often begins and ends his days imbibing cable news, the burden has fallen heavily on a press team that recognizes how well they sell Trump’s early tenure in the media will likely color the president’s appetite for an internal shake-up.
So the plan now isn’t to actually accomplish anything in Trump’s first 100 days. It’s just to convince the public that Trump did accomplish something.
Mike Dubke, Trump’s communications director, and his deputy, Jessica Ditto, kicked off the discussion of how to package Trump’s tumultuous first 100 days by pitching the need for a “rebranding” to get Trump back on track.
In a White House whose idea of “leaving everything on the field” involved a bare two weeks worth of work and a handful of meetings on a health care plan, Operation Delusions-of-Adequacy is turning into a huge effort.
Staffers, including counselor Kellyanne Conway, were broken into three groups, complete with whiteboards, markers and giant butcher-block-type paper to brainstorm lists of early successes. One group worked in the hallway.
Note that all this is happening not to accomplish something. But to make it look like they’ve accomplished something. If you’ve actually had real success, you don’t need three teams of people to “brainstorm” successes.
“It made me feel like I was back in 5th grade,” complained another White House aide who was there. “That’s the best way I could describe it.”
But honestly, isn’t 5th grade a promotion from the usual state of the Trump White House? Trump’s media sales team has come up with a plan. Trump will repeat his claims about all those jobs that he had nothing to do with, he’ll thump his chest over Syria, and he’ll think of something to suggest that he’s draining that swamp. Poof! Prosperity, security, and accountability. Who can complain about that?
This imaginary Trump sounds like quite a guy, and his imaginary accomplishments are definitely many orders of magnitude less harmful than the ambitions of the real Donald Trump.