President Trump Battles Truth and the News Media By Luke Perry
The first few days of the Trump presidency were defined by presentation and politics. They were not what anyone expected or wanted.
Day One began with declaring war on the media in a campaign-style speech before the sacred memorial wall at CIA headquarters. The president provided inaccurate inauguration details, regarding the depth of the crowd and the rain stopping when he spoke. I know this because I was there.
Afterwards Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, expanded on these untruths, some of which were met with audible laughter by the White House press corps. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway made the morning talk show rounds defending her boss and claiming that Spicer presented "alternative facts" regarding the inauguration.
The president has a point. He probably hasn't received his due for pulling off the improbable. Still, dishonestly aggrandizing himself makes things worse, not better.
For Trump, politics is deeply personal, and whether it makes strategic sense or not, he will attack anyone whom he feels has slighted him. Should this persist, the next four years will be a long and bumpy road.
Politically, new presidencies often begin with unilateral actions, such as executive memoranda that demonstrate a clear break with the previous administration and seek to address campaign promises.
Trump's first executive actions included easing requirements of Obamacare, imposing a federal hiring freeze, ensuring America does not join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, reinstating a ban on federal aid to international groups that perform abortions or advocate for their legalization, and reviving the Keystone and Dakota pipeline projects.
These directives are welcomed by Trump supporters for their symbolic and substantive impact.
Legislatively, Trump has a broad domestic agenda: build the wall, replace Obamacare, cut taxes and enhance infrastructure. The president is more reactive than proactive. He will provide guideposts for action, but is not a policy wonk. Paul Ryan is, though his prescriptions do not fully align with Trump's views. For instance, Trump is calling for an investigation into voter fraud, believing he would have won the popular vote without it, while Speaker Ryan believes there is no evidence of fraud.
This will be the first stage of political action. House leadership and the White House will work to find common ground. A major fault line will be debt and deficit. So far, Trump appears more concerned with getting things done irrespective of cost. His tax plan, for instance, is premised on an unrealistic projection of 3.5 percent economic growth. House Republicans are more concerned about the fiscal implications of policy change.
Trump's use of the bully pulpit could be key in whipping up support for his priorities. GOP representatives have to navigate the advantages and drawbacks of supporting and opposing Trump per issue. This will predominately be localized, but could shift with larger trends in his popularity and in response to how the Democrats approach their role as opposition party.
This article is part of a column by Luke Perry for The Observer Dispatch on Donald Trump's First 100 Days originally published on January 29, 2017.