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You can’t believe a thing he says

As we near the meaningless hundred-day milestone in the presidency of Donald J. Trump, here are a few things we know and don’t know about the new president:

You can’t believe a thing he says. This is the president’s major problem. He lies constantly, unhesitatingly and shamelessly, raising doubts even when he tells the truth. 

This isn’t just the view of pointy-headed liberals. In late March, even the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page had had enough, citing “the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.” That’s the genteel way of saying you can’t believe a thing he says.

He will be long remembered for having told and endlessly repeated the biggest political lie in recent history, the one about Barack Obama’s birth in Kenya. Then he gave a new dimension to fake news by claiming Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump.

His intelligence is somewhat uneven. “Don’t know much about history,” as the song says, or civics. Does know much about business and is possibly learning that wheeling and dealing cannot always be applied to governing.

It’s fair to say he has made some good appointments, most notably to some of the major cabinet and intelligence positions and his first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, seems to be as qualified as Obama’s last, Merrick Garland. 

It is disheartening that the Democrats have felt it necessary to exact a bit of revenge for the outrageous behavior of the Republicans in the Garland nomination. Two wrongs and all of that.

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Some of Trump’s jawboning can be effective. He has apparently convinced some companies to expand within the United States instead of moving out, but he has not done the same thing with products that bear his name.

His daughter and son-in-law appear to be good influences, on the order of Archie Bunker’s relationship with his daughter, Gloria, and son-in-law, Meathead, in that televised Queens household.

Sometimes having a relative or two around helps a presidency. John Kennedy’s younger brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, is the shining example, but Trump’s son-in-law has more formidable tasks. In addition to heading the newly constituted Office of American Innovation, which will make government more efficient, this young man is also going to negotiate trade deals with Mexico, China and Canada and in his off time, bring peace to the Middle East.

The president is a superb television performer, but his style, with the hyperbole, can grow stale after a time.

However, these few (relatively) positive things are drowned in the negatives. 

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He is not about to fix, repeal and replace Obamacare in the first hundred days or maybe never. 

The wall will not change much because the administration just discovered much of the Mexican border is somewhere in the middle of the Rio Grande, which is a river. 

He’s crazy about the Second Amendment, but not so sure about the First. He hates the media except the right-wing cable news and radio talkers.

He cannot control himself — hence, the tweets. 

That is some of what we know after 75 days or so, but then there’s what we don’t know.

For starters, we don’t know what Putin has on Trump.

And we don’t know what he’s hiding in his tax returns.

The Russian part of what we don’t know will presumably be answered upon the completion of investigations by the FBI, the media, the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee and perhaps, a special counsel. The tax returns, however, may remain a mystery.

The Trump regime fights back in rather eccentric ways, culminating last week in the rather unusual “leak” of intelligence data by the White House to the House intelligence chairman, who leaked it back to the White House.

Meanwhile, the president, who seems obsessed with making records that turn out be fake — the electoral college victory, the millions of illegal immigrants who voted for Clinton and the hugest inauguration audience ever — is not about to acknowledge a real record: the lowest approval rating achieved in the shortest time.

The Gallup people reported last week that the president’s approval rating had hit a new low of 35 percent. This is not the lowest presidential approval rating, but it’s the quickest. Two presidents, Reagan and Johnson, reached 35 percent and five others, the two Bushes, Carter, Nixon and Truman, fell into the twenties, but only after many months or years in office. And all of them, except Nixon, saw their approval descend as the result of a war or a recession.

Not so with President Trump. Unlike his predecessors, he did it on his own and in record time.

And before I go, did I mention that the president appears to be a thin-skinned narcissist, which is the worst kind? 

 

Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at dahles@hotmail.com.