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Kamloops News

THOMPSON: When will Americans see this disaster of a presidency for what it is?

July 24, 2017 - 12:39 PM



President Trump often boasts on Twitter and in speeches about - well, nearly everything - especially his accomplishments. Most of what he says or Tweets isn’t accurate or even true. Last week, amid the irony of his “Made in America” event at the White House, he bragged about signing bills.

“We’ve signed more bills - and I’m talking about through the legislature - than any president, ever,” Trump declared. In true Trump fashion, of course, this isn’t true. In fact, you don’t have to go back very far in history to refute his braggadocious claim .

President Trump, according to the website, has signed 42 legislative bills in his first six months in office. But history shows that President Trump is average at best. On average, the previous six presidents signed 43 bills in their first six months. 

Some signed a lot more…President Clinton signed 50 and President Carter signed 70. Others, like President Obama - who signed 39 bills - really changed the legal and economic landscape. For example, President Obama signed an $800 billion stimulus program and a law making it easier for women to sue for equal pay. Historically, others, like Presidents Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt, pushed their legislative agendas even better, signing 55 bills and 76 bills, respectively, all in their first 100 days.

Why can’t President Trump simply tell the truth? His crowds aren’t bigger, his progress toward his legislative agenda isn’t more successful and his ideas aren’t the biggest and best ever. Unwilling to let the facts speak for themselves…he embellishes everything he thinks, says or does…to the point that most people worldwide don’t take him seriously. That is a dangerous position for the president of the United States to find himself…and yet, he likely doesn’t see himself as the architect-in-chief of his own house of cards.

It is interesting to note, too, that of the 42 bills President Trump has signed…many are relatively inconsequential. One-third of the legislation - 14 bills - are simply routine or ceremonial in nature. For example, one bill named a Veteran Affairs Health Center in Pennsylvania after World War II “Bataan Death March” hero Abbie Abraham. Another, allowed Jim Mattis to be Secretary of State despite a previous Federal law requiring a seven-year waiting period between military active duty and serving as secretary.

Some 15 were bills that simply overturned previous rules and regulations passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. This was made possible through the Congressional Review Act, adopted 21 years ago to allow a president to roll back rules and regulations of the preceding president. Theoretically, this could be a good thing provided one party doesn’t control both the House and the Senate…and everything isn’t viewed through the prism of unbridled partisanship.

Before Trump, the Congressional Review Act was used just once…by President George Bush. But Trump has used it 15 times…not necessarily because it made sense…but because it undid what President Obama did. For instance, one of Trump’s reversals…nullified a rule preventing individuals with disabling mental health issues from buying handguns. Another reversed a rule requiring broadband providers to seek and gain permission before collecting data on customers’ online activities. Seems hardly something most people would brag about…much less support.

Critics - including me - claim President Trump’s legislative record has more to do with his ongoing vendetta against President Obama, which certainly fuels his base of anti-Liberal, anti-Democrat Obama haters. It has little to do with what he promised people…to “Make America Great Again.” When, by the way, is this time he believes America should return to? I believe it is when neither a black man nor a woman could be president. But if you can explain what that slogan really means…by all means.

And even though Trump promised things would be different if voters sent him to Washington, very little has changed in terms of government efficiency and the bureaucracy. In fact, he’s signed just four bills in this area and they are minor tweaks at best. Trump’s idea of making Washington run smoothly? Well, there’s the Modernizing Government Travel Act, which allows government employees to file for reimbursement of official travel by Uber, Lyft or other such companies. Not what most taxpayers were thinking when he promised change, I’m guessing.

The legislation he hasn’t delivered on? Everything he promised…repeal and replace Obamacare with the “greatest healthcare ever…at a fraction of the cost,” “the biggest tax cut since Ronald Reagan,” and “a $1 Trillion infrastructure reform package.” He also promised increased defence spending…funded by record cuts in domestic programs. He promised to build a wall…that Mexico would pay for.

The only legislation he’s signed…the pathetic reversals of President Obama mentioned previously…and some inconsequential and even questionable bills fall far short of making America great again. Like almost everything else during this president’s reign…mostly lies. He simply likes playing the role of president. Consider, too, that his party has control of the House and the Senate. Democrats aren’t blocking his legislative agenda…Republicans are.

I still say - all said and done - there will be more than enough evidence to impeach President Trump. But sadly, I don’t believe the Republicans in the House and Senate have the moral fibre to do the right thing. They haven’t - after all - come out as a group to reprimand this crazy excuse for a president on his outrageous comments.

Remember, it takes a majority vote of the House to bring impeachment charges, and a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict and remove the president from office. That means at least two dozen Republicans in the House and 16 Senators would have to develop a conscience.

Right now, I have my doubts.

Meanwhile, the investigations into collusion with the Russians gets more and more suspect.

The president spends the greatest part of his day avoiding the press, watching television obsessively to see what’s being said about him, and talking with lawyers about his ability to grant pardons and how to fire people he doesn’t like.

I keep asking, “When will Americans see this disaster of a presidency for what it is…and do the right thing?” The whole world is watching…so far with bitter disappointment.

– Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.

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