In 2016, some 63 million Americans chose Donald Trump, for reasons that are still being analyzed and puzzled over some 17 months later. But whatever the voting booth rationale might be, on the campaign trail the Donald made no attempt to disguise who he was nor what he would do if elected.
Hence I now assume that the deconstruction of Obama’s hard-won policies gives the Republican base a perpetual sense of satisfaction. Consider the promises made and now kept.
During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to walk away from the Paris Climate Accord, a multi-national agreement entered into by 200 nations, its objective to reduce CO2 in our atmosphere. Done. A plan for an improved accord: MIA. Instead, what this administration has accomplished thus far is the ongoing dismantling of the EPA and a myriad of environmental regulations.
Trump also pledged to jettison Obamacare, which, he insisted, was failing, and has vowed to replace it with a tremendous, beautiful, cheaper health care program. Voters will be so happy. They’ll love it. Truly.
Failing to win its repeal and absent any backup plan, the administration has been quietly and incrementally sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. It’s a craven, cowardly thing to do.
Equally despicable, the Trump administration has asked Congress to cut $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP provides matching funds to states for families with children and is designed to cover uninsured children whose parents whose incomes are low but too high to qualify for Medicaid.
Meanwhile, 17 months in, the first lady recently rolled out in a speech a program called “Be Best.” It focuses on the social, emotional and physical well-being of our children, the most vulnerable among us. “Well-being” was not defined.
At rally after rally, as crowds cheered, Trump referred to the Iran nuclear Deal as a disgrace, a disaster, the worst, while telegraphing his promise to withdraw, despite the fact that U.S. and Israeli intel confirmed that Iran was in full compliance. Our European allies argued for remaining in the agreement, insisting that the perfect can be the enemy of the good and needed changes can be addressed separately.
But, as promised, Trump withdrew, breaking America’s word as a signatory to the pact, confident that Iran will return to the negotiating table and will not restart its nuclear program. Should it do so, Trump warned, with strongman conviction, the consequences would be dire. The definition of “dire” remains unclear. War? Invasion? Regime change?
I assume that Trump’s base (his poll numbers have been rising) takes pleasure in his “Rocket Man/fire and fury” diplomacy. And, indeed, here we are: three hostages released last week by Kim Jong Un, a prelude to a June 12 face-to-face with Trump in Singapore. But concern remains: The president has promised that North Korea must agree to full and complete denuclearization, buttressed by robust verification. However, it’s all but impossible to believe that North Korea, now in possession of 20-60 nuclear weapons, will agree to dismantle them and its program, which is clearly viewed as a crucial deterrence and integral to its self-defense. If Kim refuses, drawing a red line that he will not cross, what does Trump do? Walk away from whatever remains of the summit? And then what? Is there a Plan B? The result is unthinkable with unimaginable consequences. Thus far, however, Trump is smiling, saying that he’s heard talk of a Nobel Peace Prize, but insists that it’s not for the prize, or even a “great man” moment, but for world peace.
To the delight of his base, from day one, Trump and company instituted a ban on immigration from Muslim countries, promised a southern border wall, “paid for by Mexico,” and Jeff Sessions recently delivered a hardline statement that undocumented families arriving at our border would be separated from their children while their appeal for asylum is adjudicated.
Trump quickly withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, passive-aggressively shelved DACA, and unsurpringly has gone silent regarding any discussion/legislation involving gun control while protecting the NRA and the much-embellished, often-distorted Second Amendment.
And so it goes.
Chris Honoré is a Daily Tidings columnist.