Grading Trump, Week 18
Vatican Pool/Getty ImagesPope Francis meets United States President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Apostolic Palace on May 24, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican.
BY: BEN SHAPIRO MAY 26, 2017
This week, President Trump took to the road in an attempt to set his presidency right — he went to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, and the G7. And it worked. Trump made no major missteps, made inroads with the Saudi government, shared a warm connection with the Israeli government, and made nice with the Pope for good measure. Yes, there were the usual Trumpian foibles. But with Trump out of town, he couldn’t fulminate over the injustices of Morning Joe and then tweet foolish things about ongoing anonymous reports. This demonstrates, as usual, that depriving the Left of oxygen is Trump’s best strategy.
As always, we grade Trump on rhetoric, policy, and the in-between (rhetoric that impacts policy).
Grades to this point are below.
Rhetoric: Trump gave a well-received speech in Saudi Arabia that laid out the principles by which he hopes to structure his foreign policy. Despite vagueness, Trump didn’t step on toes in any major way — and despite some bizarre images (sword dancing, touching a glowing orb with the king of Saudi Arabia), nothing truly embarrassing happened. Trump then went to Israel, where he got along famously with Prime Minister Netanyahu — a marked contrast to President Obama’s infamously cold relationship with Bibi. Trump did make the mistake of treating the Palestinian leadership as worthy of American support, but he didn’t levy any serious pressure on the Israelis for concessions. Next, Trump went to Rome, where he met with the Pope — again, to the media’s dismay, without any serious screw-ups. Finally, Trump headed to the G-7, where he pushed aside the president of Estonia and had an odd handshake with the new president of France. Trump’s highlight, though, came in his response to the terror attack in Manchester, U.K. — Trump showed cool-headed strength, something that some people feared he would lack. He also handled the leaks surrounding the investigation into the Manchester attacks with aplomb.
Policy: Trump laid out his budget this week, and it was a mishmash of spending increases on leftist priorities, serious cuts to discretionary entitlement programs, and apathy as to restructuring the actual underlying causes of our debt, Social Security and Medicare. The budget made assumptions about growth that may not be sustainable (although Obama did the same), and double-counted growth savings from tax cuts. The Congressional Budget Office also rated Trumpcare, and the results made for some poor headlines — although in fairness to Trump, the CBO report was seriously skewed.
The In-Between: Trump’s Saudi talk was pretty easy on the leading sponsors of Wahabbist philosophy on the planet; at his NATO meeting, Trump neglected to talk about Article V defense, which was a serious miscue. His economic advisor, Gary Cohn, is telling people at the G-7 that Trump may get behind the Paris Agreement on climate change, which would be disastrous.
Given the events of the last few weeks — and given the need for a semi-normal week from the White House — Trump delivered. In the process, he gave his supporters a breather. That’s what they needed.
This week’s grade: B+