WASHINGTON – In his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump has produced hundreds of tweets, fired scores of rockets at Syria, signed dozens of executive orders, made one big move on the Supreme Court and signed no major legislation.
He’s grumbled about the pointlessness of judging presidents by a 100-day standard: “It’s an artificial barrier. It’s not very meaningful.” Yet some of his predecessors have achieved great successes early on, at the peak of their honeymoon-hued political power.
Here are Trump’s first 100 days — in numbers:
—10: The number of major bills he said he hoped to introduce and pass in his 100-day campaign promise. They included health reform, tax relief and child care.
—0: Major bills he’s signed. Trump now suggests that 100-day pledge, titled, “Donald J. Trump Contract With The American Voter,” wasn’t really his idea: “Yeah, somebody put out the concept of a 100-day plan,” he told the Associated Press.
—29: Number of bills he’s actually signed — which is high. It’s more than any predecessor since the Second World War. Most are housekeeping items. Some revoke regulations imposed by Barack Obama. One involves public-private partnerships on weather forecasting. Others rename federal buildings, like the new Faleomavaega Eni Fa’aua’a Hunkin veterans’ building in American Samoa.
—31: Executive orders signed so far. Also historically high. Trump ordered construction of the Keystone XL pipeline; eliminated funding for aid groups involved in abortions; asked his departments to cut two regulations for every new one; ordered studies on trade abuses by other countries; and imposed his famous travel ban on certain Middle Eastern countries. Many of these are works in progress. Politico’s site put it less charitably, in a story headlined: “Trump’s Executive Orders Are Mostly Theater.” The trade studies have yet to bear fruit, the hard work on deregulation hasn’t happened, the travel order is stalled in court. Also, executive orders have big limits. They can’t contradict a law passed by Congress, and can be easily overturned by the next president.
—1: Supreme Court justice named. This could have long-term consequences. Trump saved the conservative balance of the high court, replacing the late Antonin Scalia with Neil Gorsuch. It might have another major consequence: a fight over Gorsuch led Republicans to water down the Senate’s filibuster rule, bringing the chamber one step closer to eliminating its 60-vote requirement for bills to pass.
—18: Things he said he’d do on his very first day in office. He’s done about half. Promises he’s kept: withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and replacing Scalia. Some, he’s broken or ignored: labelling China a currency manipulator, seeking limits on congressional terms.
—3: Senior White House staff who were fired or resigned. Michael Flynn was fired as national security adviser for lying about communications with Russia. For weeks thereafter, the White House defended him; it’s stopped defending him amid news he failed to file legal paperwork disclosing income he received as a foreign agent. Boris Epshteyn quit a communications post; the White House wouldn’t say why. Deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh left to start a super PAC.
—59: Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at a Syrian airfield. This came as a shock. Trump campaigned as a non-interventionist and was indifferent on Bashar Assad. The big questions now: Was this a one-off, or will Trump insist on regime change? Will he keep using the U.S. military for humanitarian strikes? Then there’s the uncertainty involving North Korea. Trump has warned of possible confrontation and said he’d sent an aircraft carrier there. It was actually going somewhere else.
—507: The number of tweets from the president since Inauguration Day, on his personal Twitter account. He’s tweeted 33 times about the news media, three times about Justin Trudeau, five times about Canada. Almost all the Canadian references were positive. The one exception came last week: “Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!”
—46,000,000: The times Trump’s tweets were liked. He does his most prolific tweeting in the morning. More than 200 messages have come in the window between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. His most active tweeting day is Wednesday. The longer-term pattern is stable: he tweeted 147 times in February, 143 times in March, 138 times in April, through Friday afternoon.
—84: Percentage of unfilled political positions, where Trump hasn’t named anyone. According to a database compiled by the Washington Post, Trump has only named 16 per cent of the 556 political staff requiring Senate confirmation. This could prove difficult in some places — including one issue dear to Canada. Trump wants to quickly renegotiate NAFTA, but his trade czar’s office lacks multiple layers of management.
—43.1: Trump’s approval rating, in an average of polls by RealClearPolitics. It’s the worst score of any new president in the history of polling, according to Gallup. There are bright spots for Trump. The second-worst score belonged to Bill Clinton; he left office extremely popular. The other silver lining: almost everyone who voted for Trump still backs him, according to surveys.
—15: Major bills signed in 100 days by Franklin Roosevelt — whose frenzy of early activity produced the myth of 100 days. FDR created massive social-safety net and public-works programs to combat the Great Depression. He also legalized regular beer sales. But his biggest achievement came two years later: old-age pensions. And that’s important to remember.
Most presidents achieved some success in their first 100 days — but their legacy came later. Obama is a good example. Upon taking office, he signed a massive, $787 billion stimulus bill that invested in roads, education and renewable energy. But his signature item, health reform, came more than a year later.
“Most presidential historians would say the first 100 days is not an indicator in any way of the success or failure of an administration. It takes a lot longer time,” said Terry Madonna, a professor of presidential history and Pennsylvania pollster.
“There’s a lot of pressure put in the first 100 days. Even Trump — he touted the first 100 days, and what he would do. Now . . . he’s playing down the notion.”
Madonna says a better barometer is the first midterm election, meaning: let’s check back around November 2018.