During his first official meeting with his full cabinet on June 12, President Donald Trump showed once again that he is not one to follow convention. Instead of the usual brief statement and uneventful photo op, the president took his moment in front of the cameras to tout his administration’s accomplishments.
“I will say that never has there been a president, with few exceptions…, who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things that what we’ve done,” Trump told the assembled reporters. While the president acknowledged that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was more productive during his first 100 days as president as he dealt with the Great Depression, he failed to mention other notable exceptions. For example, President Harry Truman passed 55 bills in the first 100 days of his administration compared to President Trump’s 48 by day 142 of his administration.
Most of President Trump’s bill and executive order signings have been accompanied by photo-ops and tweets; however, a review of the full text of these orders on the White House website shows that many of them have little, if any, impact on the daily lives of Americans. For example, most deal with mundane issues, such as appointing board members, giving buildings special designations, or directing an agency to create a committee to look into an issue.
President Trump’s legislative agenda is largely stalled. While the president very publicly announced victory after the House of Representatives passed its version of a new health care act, he is now calling that plan “mean” and is urging the Senate to make significant changes in its version. Two versions of President Trump’s “travel ban” are still making their way through the courts. The promised tax reform plan does not appear to be more than a one-page list of bullet points at this stage, and an ambitious agenda to rebuild the nation’s aging infrastructure has yet to gain traction.
In another unusual twist, the president’s statement was followed by each cabinet member lavishing praising their boss in front of the assembled press. For example, Vice President Mike Pence said that serving in the administration was the “greatest privilege of my life.” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus described the opportunity to serve the president’s agenda as a “blessing,” and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said that people now see the U.S. as “leading across the board.” Defense Secretary James Mattis went in a slightly different direction and used the opportunity to express praise and gratitude for the men and women serving in the military and the Department of Defense.