It didn’t have to end this way, but even many of President Trump’s fans concede it was bound to happen.
For a month I had planned for this weekend to be the Secrets final report card on President Trump, a look back at his four years in office. Graders Jed Babbin, a conservative analyst, and Democratic pollster John Zogby scribbled long lists to work from.
Since Trump took office, Babbin had praise for the president’s actions, especially in the areas of foreign policy and defense, though he chafed at Trump’s personality. Zogby was never much of a fan, but graded Trump honestly and even gave him a few weekly “As.”
I’ve written lists of the administration’s accomplishments and highlighted the areas he won conservative accolades in such as restricting regulations, promoting pro-life policies, sticking a finger in the eye of the “swamp,” and filling courts with constitutionalists.
Still, there was always his “my way or the highway” approach that at times thrilled and embarrassed supporters. For many, his approach was understandable since he was under attack by the media, Democrats and never-Trumpers for his whole presidency and eventually impeached.
But this week he went too far for many with his encouraging signals to pro-Trump supporters angered by his claims the election was robbed. It didn’t help that he was slow to condemn the violence at the U.S Capitol or call in the National Guard.
That was too much for Babbin, who gave an overall grade of D+, writing, “Trump will go down in history as a good but highly flawed president.”
Zogby didn’t even have to see Wednesday’s events to grade a final F. “In the end, Donald Trump may have had some successes as a president. But in the end he failed the presidency. And then the events of Jan. 6 occurred,” he concluded.
President Donald Trump did so many good things for America, it’s a shame that he will probably be most remembered for inciting a crowd to march on the Capitol, which they invaded and trashed costing several lives.
Trump pulled America out of former President Obama’s dangerous nuclear weapons deal with Iran and canceled our participation in the economy-killing Paris climate change accords. He also got us out of the Cold War Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile and Open Skies treaties with Russia, both of which we were following but Russia was violating.
Trump engineered the Abrahams Accords by which some Arab nations have made peace with Israel, an historic achievement that not only paved the way for peace but isolated Iran even further.
Domestically, Trump also accomplished a lot.
Trump’s tax cuts helped the middle class and his massive cuts to the regulatory state spurred an enormous economic resurgence that was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. Until the pandemic came from China, our economy was roaring and unemployment at record lows even among demographic groups — such as blacks and Hispanics — where the numbers are usually higher than in others. Trump’s response, “Operation Warp Speed,” spurred the development of several vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year. It normally takes a decade to develop such vaccines. The vaccines developed because of Operation Warp Speed are one of Trump’s greatest accomplishments.
But government growth under Trump was tremendous. Our national debt has risen from $19 trillion to $28 trillion under Trump. We are still nonsensically engaged in nation building in Afghanistan and we have troops in Iraq to this day.
Trump’s handling of the events of Jan. 6 were unforgivable. Hundreds of thousands came to hear him speak at a rally timed to coincide with Congress’ convening to affirm the Electoral College vote and Joe Biden’s election. Days before the rally, Trump was saying there would be a march to the Capitol. His speech to the rally still insisted on his “stolen election-rigged election” theory even after none of his many lawsuits succeeded in proving any election fraud. He even bashed Vice President Mike Pence, his most faithful ally. He told people they would march to the Capitol and thousands did, many chanting “Fight for Trump.” His speech incited the violence that occurred there.
Trump lost the election and brought defeat to two Republican Senate candidates. He thus greatly enhanced President-elect Biden’s ability to pass his left-wing legislative agenda.
The rioters who invaded the Capitol were directly attacking our democracy. They prevented, for hours, Congress’ functioning as the Constitution intends. Their acts were anti-American, anti-patriotic and their crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Hours after the Capitol was invaded, Trump issued a short video calling for calm, but it included statements — apparently directed to the rioters — that “we love you,” and “This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home.” What was he thinking?
Trump will go down in history as a good but highly flawed president.
I was asked to write a final grade for the Trump presidency. What follows was written entirely before the events of Jan. 6.
This was a presidency of consequence and there were important successes that historians could very well appreciate down the road.
President Trump addressed racial inequalities in sentencing and put together a bipartisan coalition to pass the first criminal justice reform in a generation. He delivered on the first in his series of promises to enact significant tax cuts. He presided over substantial economic growth for three of his four years, removed troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, brokered detentes between Israel and Bahrain and UAE, creating a new coalition in the region. He filled three vacancies to the U.S. Supreme Court and his 6-3 conservative majority may live on long after he is gone. He also changed many lower court judges with lifetime conservative appointees. He presided over a country which fast-tracked creating several COVID-19 vaccines that were partially implemented on his watch.
But there was a dark side to Trump’s tenure. For almost his entire administration, he promised disruption and he either created or allowed chaos to reign supreme. Promising to “drain the swamp,” instead he presided over a record-shattering personal and administrative culture of corruption. He opted for governance via personal needs and hurts, of which there were many. His tweet wars with almost everyone who got in his way were unpresidential and he enabled Russian influence worldwide. He violated United Nations and global prohibition by moving Israel’s capital to Jerusalem and gave overt blessing to rapid expansion of Israeli settlements. He alienated longtime allies and global polling shows U.S. prestige overseas at all time lows. He ordered undocumented immigrants to be be separated from their children and held in separate detention centers. He failed to prevent nuclear program growth in North Korea and Iran. He threw his fellow GOP members of Congress under the bus on the final Defense Authorization Act and COVID-19 relief bills.
And he pardoned guilty friends, including convicted Blackwater murderers. He refused to recognize early on the potential for the coronavirus pandemic to be serious and disastrous and fostered a war against science. He gutted the Environmental Protection Agency and left over 100 toxic sites unattended. He posed the greatest threat ever to U.S. democracy and the election system and he enabled and actively encouraged the actions and expanded profile of white supremacists. He promoted crazed conspiracy theories and surrounded himself with fellow believers on the fringes of the political spectrum.
Like Bill Clinton he will be noted for accomplishments but condemned for his personal morals and behavior. Like James Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, and Franklin Pierce he will be judged for inaction and taking the wrong sides in crisis. Like Andrew Johnson he will be excoriated for his awful demeanor in public and private. Like Andrew Jackson he will be rebuked for his vitriolic racism. Like Warren Harding, he will be criticized for the poor ethics of those with whom he relied upon for loyalty and advice. And like no one else, he will be judged as a narcissist, lacking in human empathy, a demagogue who cared only about himself, and as a man who could not accept defeat even at the price of destroying anyone who stood in his way.
Others failed in the eyes of historians because they made mistakes or failed to act. Trump’s time in office was an activist one — he sought and succeeded in undoing things. For the best possible historical parallel we may need to go beyond the Atlantic and look at a fellow ginger, no less than Henry VII of England, who possessed all of Trump’s flaws, ultimately ruled by paranoia, left his nation in civil and religious conflict, and ruined his legacy.
So in the time-honored question from Ronald Reagan, I ask, “Are (we as a nation) better off than we were four years ago?” And also is Trump personally better off than he was four years ago? The answers to both are “no.”
In the end, Donald Trump may have had some successes as a resident. But in the end he failed the presidency. And then the events of Jan. 6 occurred.
Jed Babbin is a Washington Examiner contributor and former deputy undersecretary of defense in the administration of former President George H.W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter @jedbabbin
Original Author: Paul Bedard
Original Location: Final Trump Report Card: Lasting accomplishments fouled by his personality