Sunday Political Brunch: The 100 Day Myth—April 30, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017


View Larger +

Mark Curtis

Dr. Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations in West Virginia, and a Political Analyst for “The Brian Copeland Show” on KGO Radio 810-AM San Francisco.

I've been preaching against the "100 Day" benchmark for weeks, to no avail. I've argued the standard is a historically-meaningless media-creation, so I got curious about some of the Presidents in my own life time and what they accomplished. Let's "brunch" on that this week.

“Win 100 for the Gipper” - I'm not going in any chronological order here; it's just random. I remember President Reagan's first 100 days for two things. First, the American hostages in Iran were released the day of Reagan's Inaugural. It was not so much Reagan's doing (although I think Iran feared him more), but it was a way for Iran to rub President Jimmy Carter's nose in the dirt. Then on day 70 of his first term Reagan was the victim of a near-fatal assassination attempt. His gritty survival gave him the perception of being tougher and stronger. He became "The Teflon President" because nothing would stick. It remained his legacy from that point forward.

"Clinton-Trump Connection" -- No, I'm not comparing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump here, I'm talking Bill and Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump. They pressed to pass their 1993 health care reform bill in the first 100 days, by steamrolling certain Congressional leaders who were key players on the health issue. It not only missed the 100-day target, it completely failed by that fall. My point is that President Trump's attempt to change health care reform – in either direction - is not without precedent.

"Help Wanted: Attorney General" -- One of the toughest assignments for President Clinton in 1993 was finding an Attorney General. Just two days after taking office Clinton abandoned his first nominee - Zoe Baird - after it was revealed she and her husband hired an illegal immigrant housekeeper and nanny and did not pay their social security taxes. Federal Judge Kimba Wood was then nominated for AG, but it soon surfaced that she also had an immigrant nanny (though in her case Wood paid the employment taxes). But the damage was done, and Wood withdrew. Clinton finally settled on Dade County, Florida State Attorney Janet Reno, who took office on day 51 of the Clinton term.

"Our Long National Nightmare is Not Over" -- When he was sworn in to succeed President Nixon on August 9, 1974, President Gerald Ford said, "Our long national nightmare is over." Just 22 days later, Ford issued a pardon to Nixon, and Ford’s political nightmare was just beginning. Ford faced a heavy public backlash and just over two years later was voted out of office. While the pardon helped defeat his reelection bid, the public mood changed dramatically by the time of Ford's death. Most Americans - and even former critic Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) - conceded that Ford had done the right thing after all, by putting Watergate behind us.

"Obama's 100" -- Perhaps the biggest achievement of President Obama's first 100 days was passage of his multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus plan known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, approved by Congress on Obama's twenty-second day in office. On the other hand, Obama issued an order to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in his first 100 days, but it remains open to this day.

"Bush II" - The first 100 days of George W. Bush's administration were relatively quiet. Just weeks after taking office, he addressed a joint-session of Congress to lay out his theme for drastic tax cuts, which were approved by June. Certainly, the biggest event in the Bush Presidency came when Al-Qaeda terrorists attacked on September 11, 2001. Everything after that dated changed, which is why I argue the first 100-day benchmark means almost nothing. A crisis renders an arbitrary time frame - well - meaningless.

"Trump's Invitation" - The "First 100 Days" was created by reporters in 1933, after President Franklin Roosevelt took office during the Great Depression. People (and the press) wanted results, and fast. Every President since then has had to deal with this silliness. As much as Trump supporters might try to assuage the benchmark, he brought a good bit of this upon himself by making promises to do a lot in his first three-plus months in office. Sometimes you reap what you sow!

“Trump’s Biggest Success” – Neil Gorsuch is now Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. President Trump may serve four years in office; or eight years if reelected. But Justice Gorsuch is just 49-years-old. He could be handing down Supreme Court decisions for the next 30-plus years. The fact that remnants of the “Reagan Court” are a factor all these years later tells you the imprint of a successful court appointment.

“Trump’s Biggest Failure” – One word – immigration. And sadly, for Mr. Trump, it’s his signature issue. The Executive Order on a travel ban was overturned by the courts, and his new Executive Order is awaiting a judicial ruling. His Executive Order to strip federal funding from self-proclaimed “sanctuary cities” is also tied up in the courts. And, the fact that he had to temporarily punt on his 1.5-billion-dollar request in Congress to start a Mexican border wall is another setback. Yes, all three of these issues can be reversed, so they are not dead yet. But, things are not trending his way on immigration so far.

“Why All This Matters” – While I believe the “100 Day” benchmark is an artificial benchmark created by the press - in which any President has little time to accomplish much - I do believe it has one significant benefit. It is where a President can set the tone for the administration. It’s kind of a road map of, “Here’s where we’re going!” But it does allow for course corrections if there are mistakes, and even political defeats. Often the better benchmark is the midterm election – two years into a Presidential term – when the public gets to send an electoral “report card” to Congress and the President.

What’s your grade for President Trump on his first 100 days in office? A, B, C, D, or F? Just click the comment button at


Related Slideshow: Trump’s Win - What Does it Mean for Rhode Island?

View Larger +
Prev Next

Jennifer Duffy

Cook Report

"We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state.  One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Chalk that up as a loss for RI."

View Larger +
Prev Next

Pam Gencarella

Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association

"Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars.  While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP.  It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?  

Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud.  While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system." 

View Larger +
Prev Next

Kay Israel

Professor at Rhode Island College

"With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."  

The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.  

For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."

View Larger +
Prev Next

Jennifer Lawless

Professor at American University

"The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.

His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."

View Larger +
Prev Next

Len Lardaro

Professor at University of Rhode Island

"Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.

I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective.  Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.

A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance. 

That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas. 

Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."

View Larger +
Prev Next

Mike Stenhouse

RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity

"As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.

Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."

View Larger +
Prev Next

Kristina Contreras Fox

VP of Young Democrats of America

"A Trump Presidency means the validation of the ugliest part of America. In RI, as with the rest of the country, the hammer of his hatred will fall hardest on minority communities. Being a blue state doesn't make us immune from this danger.

Trump won over 35% (39.5) of the vote here! We need to look in the mirror, and not lie about what the reflection shows us. No more hiding underneath a blue blanket. I expect those who claim Democratic values to be true to those values. The gulf between words and actions have turned into fertile ground for Trump's message to grow here in RI. If you call yourself a Democrat, if you claim to stand in opposition to Trump, now is the time to prove it. Show up and fight back."


Enjoy this post? Share it with others.


Sign Up for the Daily Eblast

I want to follow on Twitter

I want to Like on Facebook

Delivered Free Every
Day to Your Inbox