Don’t Grade a President on His First 100 Days

The election of Donald Trump, and the early days of his presidency, have driven many Americans to rummage through history in search of context and understanding. Trump himself has been compared to historical figures ranging from Ronald Reagan to Henry Ford, and from Andrew Jackson to Benito Mussolini. His steps have been condemned as unprecedented by his critics, and praised as historic by his supporters.

To place contemporary events in perspective, we turned to a pair of historians of the United States. Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author, most recently, of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society. Morton Keller is a professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University. He has written or edited more than 15 books, including Obama’s Time: A History. They’ll be exchanging views periodically on how to understand Trump, his presidency, and this moment in political time. —Yoni Appelbaum

Julian Zelizer: President Trump’s first 100 days in office are coming to a close. The grades will soon come out. Politicians, journalists, historians are all starting to evaluate how well or how poorly he has done. This does not go down in the “unprecedented” part of this presidency. Ever since President Franklin Roosevelt pushed through Congress a historic legislative agenda in the early part of his term, the 100-day mark has been a standard part of the political lexicon.

There are many reasons for why we keep using this measure. Once FDR set the bar, it became difficult not to make this comparison. For journalists the 100 day-mark is a nice, clean, and simple way to measure how things are going, while politicians look for ways to gauge the strength of the commander in chief. …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

The Scandals of Donald Trump: Presidential Edition

Donald Trump entered the White House as one of the most scandal-tarred presidents in American history—what his imbroglios may have lacked in depth, they made up in variety, encompassing legal, ethical, and sexual controversies. (In a twist, one of Trump’s few competitors for the crown was his rival, Hillary Clinton.) They ranged from race discrimination to mafia connections, from petty hypocrisies to multimillion-dollar alleged frauds.

Related Story

The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet

Now that Trump is president, some of those controversies have continued to shadow him. But the presidency has also occasioned a whole new set of disputes. Looming largest is the question of whether his campaign colluded with Russian agents to interfere in the election, a question being investigated by the FBI as well as panels in both houses of Congress. They also include ethical and legal questions surrounding members of his cabinet, his allegation that Barack Obama spied on him before the election, and various conflicts of interest.

In the spirit of our logs of : : : : : The Atlantic, (2); Jeremy Venook’s full accounting of conflicts of interest; Fortune

Aaron Bernstein / ReutersThe Revolving Door

Who: Marcus Peacock, former budget adviser; Scott Gottlieb, nominee for FDA commissioner; Michael Catanzaro, energy adviser; Chad Wolf, TSA official; Geoff Burr, Labor Department official

The dirt: During the campaign, Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” proposing a range of rules to limit the revolving door between government and business. Trump’s actions since taking office have been a mixed bag, strengthening some rules and weakening others. (This is not unprecedented—Barack Obama also ended up loosening his own rules.) There are already several worrying case of people moving between the government and major lobbies in both directions.

Marcus Peacock worked briefly …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

Why the Next NATO Ambassador Could be a Force for LGBT Inclusion

“I am writing to tell you that I am gay and I am a Christian.”

That was the opening line of the letter Richard Grenell, a former United Nations official, sent his evangelical parents when he decided to come out in 1999. He had kept his sexual orientation a secret from them for years, but after he fell in love with his now-longtime partner, he knew it was time to get his personal life in order.

President Trump reportedly plans to nominate Grenell to be his ambassador to NATO, a position that would make Grenell the highest-ranking gay man in the new administration, and arguably the most visible gay Christian in America. Yet his appointment could potentially influence more than the country’s ties to the military alliance—by pushing conservative Christians to reconsider their approach to LGBT rights and equality.

Grenell, a conservative and a Harvard graduate, boasts an extensive political resume that’s punctuated by his role as the longest serving U.S. spokesman at the United Nations. Four years after leaving the UN, he served as Mitt Romney’s national-security and foreign-affairs spokesman during the 2012 campaign for president. These days, Grenell works as a communications consultant and is a contributor on Fox News.

Grenell’s upbringing didn’t necessarily suggest a life in politics; his childhood reads like the opening chapter of an evangelist’s autobiography. Converted at a young age, he spent his summers at religious youth camps and traveling to foreign countries on mission trips to evangelize non-Christians. While his devout parents moved back and forth from California to Michigan, the church remained the constant in his life. Attending multiple services each week was mandatory, but no one needed to twist young Grenell’s arm. “Growing up in church, I think I recognized the need for God and that Jesus died for my sins,” Grenell told …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics