Trump’s con job has become painfully obvious: tough talk, big announcements with over-the-top promises, and then … nothing (good).
For 56 percent of Americans rating Trump’s job performance as poor, this isn’t news. They got his number early and 3 million more voted for his opponent. But his numbers could crater as the 38 percent now approving his performance absorb his failure to fulfill his promises to them.
So let’s look at what he said, versus what he did.
First, health care.
What Trump said: “I will repeal and replace Obamacare.” “I’m going to leave Medicaid alone.” “Everybody’s got to be covered.” “I’m going to take care of everybody.”
What Trump did: He failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, three times; supported legislation cutting insurance to over 20 million; signed an executive order throwing the insurance marketplace into turmoil, boosting rates for the sick and elderly; and withdrew subsidies for the neediest among us. He’s taken care of no one.
Next, the border wall.
What Trump said: “I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. … and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.”
What Trump did: OK, let’s mark his words. He’s done nothing. Mexico ain’t paying. Congress ain’t paying. And now he’s holding 800,000 DACA “Dreamers” hostage essentially saying, “Give me the wall or I’ll deport these kids.”
How about suing the New York Times over an article featuring two women accusing him of inappropriate sexual contact. (A follow-up story to Trump’s infamous tape bragging about being a sexual predator and grabbing women by their genitals.)
What Trump’s lawyer said for him: “Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se.”
What Trump did: Nothing. (Guess the Times had it right.)
Now consider Trump’s response to the opioid epidemic, killing 175 Americans a day (64,000 a year), especially in Trump’s red states.
What Trump said: “I’m confident that by working with our health care and law enforcement experts we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win.”
What Trump did: Nothing. Except reject his own commission’s recommendation to declare a national emergency; propose an $800 billion cut to Medicaid, the primary treatment source for 1.2 million Americans needing help; and cut $167 million from federal abuse prevention.
We could look at his Puerto Rican relief effort.
What Trump said: “We will not rest, however, until the people of Puerto Rico are safe. These are great people. We want them to be safe and sound and secure. And we will be there every day until that happens.”
What Trump did: Very little as proven by the current situation; 80 percent of the island has no electricity; there’s a daily shortfall of 1.8 million meals; and more than a third of the island is without safe drinking water. He did, however, threaten 3.4 million Americans with, “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders…in P.R. forever!” And then blame Puerto Ricans for the crisis.
There’s more, such as:
DACA recipients: He offered Democratic leadership a deal, then killed it by making impossible demands, putting to lie his, “They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”
Branding China a currency manipulator. He didn’t, instead he said, “It was a great honor to have President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan of China as our guests in the United States. Tremendous goodwill and friendship was formed,” adding, “but only time will tell on trade.” A far cry from his campaign rhetoric.
Promising a Constitutional amendment to limit congressional terms. Still waiting for that. Maybe after he pulls NBC’s television broadcast license? (Of course, he can’t pull NBC’s license as the NBC television network doesn’t have a broadcast license, only individual local stations have licenses. Plus he can’t command the FCC, it’s an independent branch of government.
There’s more, but space is limited.
Donald Trump is the Bombaster-in-Chief, making outlandish promises and dire threats never delivered on. A solid phalanx of opponents say Trump’s unfit for office. But when conservative Republicans, such as Tennessee’s Sen. Bob Corker agree, it’s time to start worrying, stockpiling supplies and copies of the Constitution; and, if you’re a media outlet (or simple scribe like me) putting a federal court-qualified attorney on retainer.
In Act V of Shakespeare’s play, MacBeth says:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
Trump is a poor player who struts and frets and is full of sound and fury. And he may be an idiot, but he’s an idiot with nuclear codes and a finger on the button. And I’m afraid that signifies something … very frightening.
Tom Burke’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.