Thursday, April 27, 2017

evaluating the Trump presidency

The Trump administration wants to portray its first hundred days in office as unprecedentedly successful. Journalists prefer lists of hits and misses, or maybe balls and strikes. The best that Never Trump people can acknowledge is like Mark Twain's backhanded comment on composer Richard Wagner: his "music is better than it sounds."

Of course, things could have been a lot worse. There is a reasonable, professional national security team in place, at least at the top. The President has not concluded any earthshaking deals, but neither has he got us into another war. Yet, in both cases.

We analysts, like journalists, often seem to prefer presidential changes in policy over competent management of the status quo. I think that's wrong. Presidents, like doctors, should be judged on whether, first, they did no harm. Then later on what they accomplished that was different.

Trump will earn a ranking as a pretty good president if, one, two,or three years from now, we can say that he kept things from getting worse -- with China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and elsewhere.

But he will deserve our everlasting condemnation if even one nuclear weapon is exploded in anger against any country by any adversary. That's a historic red line all world leaders should worry about every day. The fear makes it hard for me to sleep at night; it should be hard for them, too.

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