Trump and the ‘It’s Still Very Early’ Fallacy
There’s been an awful lot of talk about the First 100 days though it’s also been pointed out that this is something of an artificial benchmark.
Trump as usual has tried to have it both ways:
1. It’s an artificial benchmark
2. But he in the same breath claims his First 100 have been the greatest ever-just like he says about everything he does.
To be sure this is just his usual empty hyperbole. By any historic measure his First 100 has been a dismal failure. No legislative achievements. Historically low approval ratings for just 100 days in. And a Watergate 2.0 scandal about Russia collusion that calls into question his very legitimacy to be in office.
As Nancy Pelosi who hopefully will take her rightful place as House Speaker in 2019 saysy, Trump
As for this talk about 100 days being a false benchmark-yes and no. It’s artificial for sure. But Lawrence O’Donnell made a great point last night. It’s always early in a President’s term when he has the most political capital.
We should conceive political capital as something with a best used by date. Paradoxically, for a President it really is a sprint not a marathon. O’Donnell points out that by the second year Congress is worried about re-election and is not willing to open up any new big ticket items. The notion that Trump has all this time to come back then is something of an illusion.
It’s only going to get harder. And if his popularity stays weak, expect more GOPers to buck him. So this talk about it being early ignores that a President is strongest in the early stages. Political capital is not necessarily politically transferrable out a couple of years.
Early in a POTUS’ term then is when they are going to be at the height of their powers and most legislation they pass will have been introduced early. So 100 days in some ways is less an arbitrary benchmark than it sounds.
In other related news, the media has been spending a lot of time lately talking about how Trump is doing with his own voters. In other words, the media really wants to be charitable to him. They don’t want to be too rough. However, even here it isn’t great news:
“Those who voted for Donald Trump have almost no regrets about it. Among Republicans, his standing is strong: The president’s approval ratings typically top 80 percent.”
“But at the 100-day mark of his presidency, Trump is still lagging behind the pace of George W. Bush and Barack Obama among members of their own parties. Combined with the historic polarization of views about Trump’s first months in the White House, those numbers present a significant challenge to the president and his party in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.”
“While Trump’s average approval rating among Republicans is 86 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster, George W. Bush was at 93 percent among Republicans at the eve of his inaugural 100-day anniversary. Barack Obama was at 92 percent among Democrats.”
“Polarization of views about Trump’s first months in the White House is nearly off the charts. Previous presidents had wide and deep support from their own parties, but also brought along independents and a sizable chunk of partisans on the other side. Trump isn’t experiencing that. While his numbers with Republicans only slightly lag Bush’s, even Bush had a significant number of Democrats in his corner at the 100-day mark of his administration.”