"I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done," declared President Donald Trump in his news conference last week. It is hard to dispute that statement given the unprecedented confusion that has plagued the Trump administration during its first month.
So far, the Trump transition has been ineptly problematic. The incompetent rolling out of Trump's travel ban, which appeared to target Muslims, caused enormous chaos at the nation's airports. The intensified rounding up of immigrants illegally in the U.S. has been heartless and perplexing. The shaky efforts to "repeal and immediately replace" the Affordable Care Act have mobilized thousands of Obamacare supporters to protest at town halls throughout the country.
Perhaps no president has generated as many widespread global protests against his administration in so little time. Thousands of protesters took to the streets across America Monday for "Not My President's Day" rallies against Trump's policies. The opposition covered a wide range of issues, including immigration, women's reproductive rights and climate change. History was made on the day following Trump's inauguration when an estimated 2.6 million people protested Trump in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 different countries.
Protests overseas against the president have attracted huge crowds. President Trump's intention to visit England has activated large protests. More than 1.85 million people have signed a petition entitled "Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom." The petition claimed that the president's vulgar comments about women would "cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen." As the British Parliament debated whether to withdraw an invitation to the president extended by their prime minister during her recent visit, thousands of protesters rallied outside.
Trump caused confusion and hard feelings in Sweden when at a Florida rally he called attention to "what is happening last night in Sweden." The reference was at best oblique, but Trump later tweeted it was the result of a Fox News report linking that country's increase in crime to its acceptance of asylum seekers. The Swedish embassy responded on Twitter, "We look forward to informing the US administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies."
Trump's praise of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his frequent criticism of NATO, both running counter to long-standing U.S. policy, have unsettled European allies. There have been persistent reports that the Trump administration will ease sanctions on Russia relating to its illegal annexation of Crimea and military actions in Ukraine. This weekend, Vice President Mike Pence attempted to reassure allies. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Pence said, "Know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground which as you know President Trump believes can be found."
During a January appearance at CIA headquarters, Trump suggested that the U.S. should have seized the oil during its 2003 invasion of Iraq. "We should have kept the oil," he said, "But okay. Maybe we'll have another chance." This played right into the propaganda claims of Mideast opponent's who have always charged that the U.S. only wants the oil. On his way to Iraq, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters, "We're not going to seize anybody's oil." He added, "All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and I am sure we will continue to do so in the future."
Trump has tried to divert attention away from his rocky presidency by blaming the press--a stunt he utilized regularly during his campaign. Last week Trump tweeted, "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" Defense Secretary Mattis disagreed with his boss, saying, "The press, as far as I'm concerned, are a constituency that we deal with, and I don't have any issues with the press myself." Vice President Pence said he supports a free and independent press while in Brussels. He added, "But you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when they play fast and loose with the facts." Calling out the media is one thing, but declaring it to be the enemy is outrageous. In Thomas Jefferson's words, "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press."
In his news conference last week, Trump said, "This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine." But Trump lives in an alternate reality filled with alternative facts. His popularity ratings are at an historic low for an incoming president since such polls have been taken.
If this were a television show, the title would be, "The Apprentice goes to Washington."