April 28, 2017

President Trump has been both dismissive of the first-100-day framework for his presidency and eager to notch any tangible accomplishments he can point to on Day 100, which is Saturday. No president has been able to match up to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came up with the 100-days idea and had amazing legislative and executive-order successes, says David R. Mayhew, a Yale political science professor emeritus, at The Washington Post. And FDR had what appeared to be the two crucial ingredients for a 100-day legislative binge; Trump has only one.

The first factor successful presidents have, a congressional majority for their party, is "an obvious consideration" but "it hasn't made as much difference as one might think," Mayhew says. In fact, since the 1930s, "only one enactment stands out as particularly important — President Barack Obama's stimulus legislation," signed less than a month into his first term. Where Trump falls short, he explains, is the lack of "a national emergency or some other spur to action." FDR had a "a triple whammy of conditions that made the era legislatively exceptional," Mayhew notes, but Lyndon B. Johnson got a lot done after John F. Kennedy's assassination, Ronald Reagan had an economic crisis, and Obama had the Great Recession. He continues:

The problem for today's Republicans is that the social and economic context is relatively calm. There is no recession, bank crisis, terrorist attack, or war. An election by itself is not enough. A 100-days legislative binge would have been astonishing. Trump's goals — such as tax reform, trade, infrastructure, health care, and immigration, are not short-fuse topics. Major changes on these issues require months of congressional fussing. Eisenhower won his tax reform in his second year; Reagan won it in his sixth year. [Mayhew, The Washington Post]

Like FDR, Trump is accomplishing some things through executive fiat, Mayhew says, "but in eras with no background crisis, it might be time to retire the expectation that any new president will go on a first-100-days lawmaking binge." You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

April 25, 2017
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President Trump bragged that "no administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days" than his, although Amnesty International's new list is probably not what he had in mind. The non-governmental organization published 100 ways Trump has threatened human rights in the U.S. and around the world, ranging from "closing borders and shutting the door to refugees" to "emboldening and arming human rights abusers" to "hostility toward LGBT rights."

"These first 100 days show how dangerous Trump's agenda is, and they're also a roadmap for how to stop it and protect human rights in the U.S. and around the world," said Margaret Huang, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. "When we sat down to document the first 100 days, it didn't take long to identify 100 ways this administration has tried to violate people's human rights. What's incredible isn't just all the ways the Trump administration has tried to deny people freedom, justice, and equality — but all the ways that the public has pushed back and refused to let it happen."

See the full list, with informative drop-down explanations, at Amnesty International. Jeva Lange

April 24, 2017
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How do President Trump's first 100 days stack up against the presidents of yore? Not so great, as it turns out. Presidential historians who spoke with NPR ruled Trump "an entry-level president" and practically unfit to even be a White House intern.

"This man is without experience, and it's showing," said historian Robert Dallek, who has studied leaders ranging from Roosevelt to Reagan. "Particularly in his dealings with Congress, he's been an utter failure in the sense that he's gotten nothing passed. He's issuing all sorts of executive orders, like immigration limits; they're failing. The attempt to get health-care reform failed. I'd give him failing marks for his 100 days."

Richard Norton Smith has written several presidential biographies, including one on Herbert Hoover, who, like Trump, was a businessman before taking office. But "the problem with people who say we need a businessman is that the government isn't a business," Smith said, adding: "Profit-loss statements don't take into account the irrationality of Kim Jong Un. Corporate budgets don't have to allow for military defense. All these kinds of perfectly rational expectations that apply in a corporate world are rarely applicable in the less-than-rational world of politics."

The director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia, Barbara Perry, said it is even too generous to call Trump an "entry-level president." "Unless he would be an intern, he would not have a position in the White House — with no educational experience, no military experience, no government, no political experience, most of it was running for president."

She described his learning curve in office as "Mount Everest." "It's as steep as they come and ice-covered, and he didn't bring very many knowledgeable Sherpas with him," Perry told NPR. Jeva Lange

April 21, 2017
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Accomplishments made in the first 100 days have been a symbolic marker of a leader's success dating back to Napoleon, but as Trump's own honeymoon period draws to a close with limited achievements to show for it, he has taken to bashing the metric as a whole. "No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, and it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!" Trump tweeted early Friday.

Trump's first several months have been marked by significant trip-ups, including the flop of the Republican health-care bill and the legal blocks of his ban on travel from half a dozen majority-Muslim countries. As Trump points out in his tweet, his biggest victory might be the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — which ultimately required the Senate to rewrite its own rules.

Trump's staff is reportedly already bracing for how to handle the likely lukewarm coverage when Trump's 100 days are up on April 29. Jeva Lange

April 12, 2017

President Trump, not being one to forgo a hyperbole, bragged Wednesday to Fox Business that there isn't "a presidential period of time in the first 100 days where anyone's done nearly what we've been able to do."

Trump's major accomplishments have so far been fairly limited — so limited, in fact, that his staff is reportedly scrambling to figure out how to spin his first 100 days as the end of the symbolic period quickly approaches with little legislation to show for it. Earlier this week, Reuters described the successful appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch as "the biggest triumph so far for the new administration" while Politico pointed out the victory still "required the Senate rewriting its own rules to overcome Democratic opposition." Jeva Lange

April 10, 2017
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President Trump's staff is scrambling to figure out the best way to present his first 100 days in office as the symbolic marker approaches with few major accomplishments to show for it, Politico reports. "One hundred days is the marker, and we've got essentially two-and-a-half weeks to turn everything around," one White House official said, calling the work ahead "monumental."

Thirty members of Trump's staff huddled last week to brainstorm how to approach the president's first 100 days, which will be complete on April 29. "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," Politico writes. One aide who attended said: "It made me feel like I was back in 5th grade."

Another attendee described the session as an attempted "rebranding" for the president, who has been plagued by shakeups, legal blockades, and legislative setbacks, including the high-profile collapse of a repeal and replacement of ObamaCare. The communications team reportedly settled on promoting accomplishments such as "prosperity," including backing out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, "accountability," including restrictions on lobbying, and "safety/security," such as the mostly approved-of strike on Syria.

On Monday, Reuters additionally described the successful appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch as "the biggest triumph so far for the new administration" while Politico points out the victory still "required the Senate rewriting its own rules to overcome Democratic opposition." Read more about how President Trump's team is considering painting his first 100 days in office at Politico. Jeva Lange

January 23, 2017
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President Donald Trump has a "busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security," he tweeted Monday morning. Much of that will entail reaching out to potential allies: Trump meets with business leaders in a "listening session" Monday to discuss manufacturing jobs, followed by a meeting with union leaders and workers in the afternoon, lunch with Vice President Mike Pence, and his first meeting as president with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Trump is also expected to sign executive orders Monday morning on topics possibly ranging "from immigration to Israel to the economy, including what he called a re-working of the North American Free Trade Agreement," USA Today writes.

Trump's team will especially be aiming for a smooth first week after such a bumpy inaugural weekend. "They got off to a very rocky start because they see everyone as adversaries," Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend who talks with him often, told Politico. Jeva Lange

January 22, 2017

President Trump will meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington on Friday, she confirmed Sunday, to discuss the future relationship between Washington and London, specifically where free trade and NATO cooperation are concerned.

May told the BBC she will not shy away from frank or even difficult conversation, referencing the Women's Marches against Trump organized around the globe the day before. "I've already said that some of the comments that Donald Trump has made in relation to women are unacceptable, some of those he himself has apologized for," she said. "When I sit down [with Trump], I think the biggest statement that will be made about the role of women is the fact that I will be there as a female prime minister. Whenever there is something that I find unacceptable, I won't be afraid to say that to Donald Trump."

Trump is also to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who indicated Sunday he will speak with the new president by phone Sunday night. "A telephone conversation will be held this evening between President Trump and me. Many matters face us, the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, the Iranian threat," he said. Bonnie Kristian

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