Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton and a vocal opponent of Trump, just published a scathing op-ed in Newsweek outlining what he believes was Trump’s overarching accomplishment in his first 100 days as President.
The biggest thing Trump's accomplished in his first 100 days is to degrade and demean the presidency. https://t.co/S3leWZgpV9
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) April 25, 2017
Reich explains that while Trump has essentially failed to accomplish anything on his agenda for the first 100 days, he has managed to inflict immeasurable harm on the presidency itself.
He says of past Presidents’ moral obligations:
It is not merely what these men accomplished, but how they did it; not just their policies but their positive effects on the institutions of democratic governance.
True, many of our presidents have fallen short of those ideals. But our disappointments in them largely reflect the high expectations we have of those who hold that office.
But not until Trump has the moral authority of the office disappeared.
Reich slams Trump for his “blatant, continuous and unsubstantiated” lies that serve only to divide and pit Americans against one another, “legitimizing hatefulness toward Mexican-Americans and Muslim-Americans and African-Americans.” Even following the Civil War, Lincoln called for Americans to come together, whereas Trump “encourages warring camps – calling his opponents ‘enemies’ and suggesting that they are plotting against his administration, and staging rallies to encourage and fuel his bedrock supporters.”
He further blasts Trump for using the government to benefit his vast family business and shrugging off his conflicts of interest. “[N]ever before Trump,” he explains, “have we had a president for whom conflicts of financial interest during his presidency are flagrant yet ignored.”
Perhaps most consequential are Trump’s effects on the rest of the world. He has sought to emulate and expressed support for authoritarians such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, encouraged dangerous nationalists like France’s Marine Le Pen, and insulted our democratic allies, such as NATO and, more recently, Australia.
I would be hard pressed to articulate Reich’s final thoughts better than he can; here is how he concludes his scathing review of Trump’s dismal first 100 days in office:
Finally, there is Donald Trump himself – who in the first 100 days as president has shown himself to be narcissistic, xenophobic, paranoid, vindictive and thin-skinned; who takes credit for the work of others and blames others for his own failings; who lashes out at the press and journalists when they criticize him, and who demonizes judges who disagree with him.
We have before had presidents such as Richard Nixon whose personality defects harmed their presidencies and tainted the office of the president. But Donald Trump is in a different league altogether. He exhibits the opposite of every civic virtue ever encouraged in our school rooms, town halls, and churches.
The first 100 days is an artificial landmark for presidents. But it does offer an opportunity to pause and assess what they have done. Too often, though, we think in the narrow gauge of policies and legislation.
With Trump, it’s important to think more broadly. Among the most significant legacies of his first 100 days is his degrading of the moral authority of the office of the president, and, thereby, of America.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.