I said from the beginning that I would judge President Trump by his actions. Trump is a Republican who has rejected conservatism, so I have no partisan motivation to support him like a normal Republican or oppose him like a Democrat. I said I would praise him when he does good, and criticize him when he does not. Trump’s presidency is not yet 48 hours old, and he’s already given me cause to do both.
Trump started off on a positive note. Well, positive after his inaugural address. In the hours after Trump took the oath of office he signed two important executive orders. The first was an instruction to the executive branch to halt all new costly regulations. This is a very good act and deserves effusive praise. The federal bureaucracy is out of control, constantly assuming new authority and declaring regulations that have the power of law without Congressional legislation. These regulations are not only often costly, their very existence is counter to our Constitutional Republican ideals. Faceless, un-elected bureaucrats should not be making law. Anything Trump can do to stop this, even temporarily, gets his administration off to a great start.
In the same sitting, Trump signed another executive order instructing all Federal agencies “to the maximum extent permitted by law” to grant waivers to onerous Obamacare regulations, halt expensive programs, and return greater discretion to the States. You may remember that Obamacare gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services extensive power to make regulations and determine how to implement Obamacare. That power can now be used to begin the work of repealing it and moving towards a free market solution. These are two great executive orders on Day 1 that all conservatives should praise Trump for.
Unfortunately, Trump also had a Day 2.
Trump began his first full day as president by visiting the CIA to try to repair his relationship with the intelligence community he frequently criticized and insulted, but now has to lead. Standing in front of the CIA Memorial Wall, Trump told them his criticism was of the CIA political leadership, not the rank and file agents, whom he supports. It was at least a plausible explanation.
But as we’ve come to learn, Trump is simply unable to stay on topic. After telling the CIA they will no longer be restrained and can take the fight to ISIS and destroy the terror group, Trump transitioned into his campaign line that we should have taken the Iraqi oil. Whatever, we’re used to that. But then Trump told them they might have another chance to take the oil.
I’m sure Trump meant nothing by that, but he is now president of the United States and his every word is now scrutinized all over the world for changes in policy. If someone were to take him seriously, that would sound like an intention to re-invade Iraq. Do I think Trump is planning to invade Iraq? No. Perhaps no one else does either. But what happens the next time Trump speaks off the cuff about something he has no intention of doing, but a world leader does take him seriously? As the most powerful man in the world, Trump’s word vomit can have serious repercussions.
Back to the CIA event. When standing in front of the Memorial Wall that honors the CIA agents who gave their lives for our country, Trump returned to his favorite subject: Trump and the people who support him. In his trademark egotistical stream of consciousness, with a visual reminder of the sacrifices CIA agents have made behind him, Trump spent time telling the Americans on the front line of the War on Terror how much people like him. And he lied about it to boot.
Later in the day, Trump sent his press secretary out to do a press briefing in order to read a statement about the size of his inaugural crowd. Press Secretary Sean Spicer also rightly criticized the press for several false reports, but this was overshadowed by Spicer himself telling easily falsifiable lies during his very first press briefing. The size of the crowd is unimportant, but that our government would lie to us about triviality is disturbing. It was bad enough when candidate Trump frequently lied. But now President Trump and Press Secretary Sean Spicer speak for the American people. When they blatantly lie, not spin or obfuscate, but flat out lie about easily proven facts, it hurts their credibility and that of the United States. We deserve better.