Richard Epstein offers a “mixed report card” for President Trump’s first year. Here’s the short version:
The bad news is the man. The good news is his administration. The overall picture is a tricky composite.
The bad news has two facets:
Trump’s personality is marred by two fatal flaws that his opponents relentlessly exploit. The first is that he is a bully whose specialty is the abusive and tasteless tweet. The second is that he is extraordinarily thin-skinned and immature, so that he will always take the bait when provoked. Democrats today know that harsh comments can lure him into senseless outbursts. . . .
So long as Trump is in office, his outsized personality will impose huge costs in time and morale on the Republican Party, and make it difficult for the GOP to retain control over the House and the Senate in 2018.
The good news is, as Epstein says, Trump’s administration. In fact, I give Trump higher marks on this side of the equation than Epstein does, though I agree, in the main, with Epstein’s critique of the president on trade issues. For one thing, Epstein focuses almost entirely on economic issues, so he doesn’t give Trump as much credit as he deserves for reversing, in part, President Obama’s foreign and national security policy.
Perhaps because I find even more to like than Epstein does in Trump’s administration, I don’t view the “composite” of Trump’s first year quite so “tricky.” Epstein, though, ends up drawing a composite that’s close to mine. He concludes:
The current report card is mixed, but so far the economic positives have outweighed the personal negatives. Happy New Year.
UPDATE: Rich Lowry offers his assessment of Trump’s first year. It’s similar to Epstein’s but more comprehensive, it seems to me. Lowry writes:
As the year ends, President Trump is compiling a solid record of accomplishment. Much of it is unilateral, dependent on extensive executive actions rolling back President Barack Obama’s regulations, impressive judicial appointments and the successful fight against ISIS overseas. The tax bill is the significant legislative achievement that heretofore has been missing.
For much of the year, Trump’s presidency had seemed to be sound and fury signifying not much besides the welcome ascension of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Now it’s sound and fury signifying a discernible shift of American government to the right.
If you’re a conservative, that should be the name of the game.