I’m jumping the gun a little here, but I’d like to remind everyone that during his first month in office, Barack Obama:
- Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
- Banned torture.
- Signed a $787 billion stimulus bill.
- Sent 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.
- Ended the month with a net job approval rating of +27 percent.
Donald Trump still has a few days to go, but so far he has:
- Signed no legislation.
- Mostly signed executive orders that are either routine (pay freezes, a halt to new regulation, reversing the Mexico City rule) or little more than PR messages to his base (cracking down on drug cartels, financial regulatory reviews, rebuilding the military, etc.).
- Signed one executive order that was important, but rolled it out so incompetently that it caused massive chaos and was promptly overturned by the courts.
- Sat idly by at dinner while aides discussed a North Korean missile launch and then failed to respond in any way at all.
- Has presided over a White House so epically leak-prone and amateurish that people are already taking bets about which senior officials will get fired within the next few weeks.
- Ended the month with a net job approval rating of about -8 percent.
This comparison extends to the new Republican Congress too. Obama’s Congress was busy immediately with serious legislation. Trump’s Congress is struggling to confirm cabinet nominees; is completely at sea about how to tackle Obamacare; and can’t seem to agree on how to handle corporate taxes and tariffs. I assume that big tax cuts for the rich are still on the agenda, but it’s not yet clear what else is.
Obviously Trump has done some genuine damage already,1 and both Trump and Congress have plenty of time left to wreak a tsunami of even more. But for a guy who was elected to shake things up, he sure hasn’t done much real shaking yet. Just a lot of big talk.
1In other words: don’t let your guard down. That’s not what I’m suggesting here.