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Trump’s first year marked by controversy

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Dec 26, 2017 - 8:53:03 PM

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Donald Trump with his sexual misconduct accusers. Graphic: MGN Online

WASHINGTON—If left to him, Donald J. Trump’s first year anniversary in office January 20, 2018 should be celebrated with a ticker-tape parade from the White House to his glitzy Trump International Hotel, a few blocks away on Pennsylvania Avenue. The President, however, is a “majority of one” on the subject of his accomplishments thus far in a year that made plenty of headlines.

“In many ways he of course, had a horrible year, and more importantly, the people of the country had a horrible year,” Dr. Clarence Lusane, chair of the Department of Political Science at Howard University told The Final Call.

 “The Trump year has been an unmitigated disaster, personally devoid of any significant legislative accomplishment,” Dr. Gerald Horne, Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston said in an interview.

Although Mr. Trump’s controversial tax reform plan was passed by both the House and Senate before Christmas, fulfilling one of his laundry list of campaign promises, it was a year racked with legislative failures.

“In terms of order, and things going the way they’re supposed to go, it reminds me of Dorothy, landing in Oz,” said statistician Dr. David Bositis. “Everything since he took office, and before he took office has been chaos.”

But the unkindest cut of all came from USA TODAY, the largest-circulated newspaper in the U.S. “With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial Dec. 12.

“A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes: Our view,” the newspaper wrote about a Tweet-storm in which the president said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) used to come to him “begging” for campaign contributions, and would have “done anything” to get them.

Mr. Trump has been boasting about his achievements, throughout the year. “In the history of our country, no president, during their entire term, has cut more regulations than we’ve cut,” Mr. Trump said recently, putting the total at nearly 1,000, what would be an astounding accomplishment for the notoriously slow-moving federal bureaucracy. But even the truth of that claim is in doubt, according to government records studied by Bloomberg News.

For one thing, only a handful of regulations have actually been taken off the books, according to Bloomberg’s analysis. The claim of victory in the war on regulation is instead based almost entirely on stopping proposed rules that haven’t yet made their way through the machinery of government, Bloomberg reported. The White House says it has killed or stalled 860 pending regulations. It’s done this by withdrawing 469, listing another 109 as inactive and relegating 282 others to “long term.”

But the Bloomberg review found even those claims are exaggerated. Hundreds of the pending regulations had been effectively shelved even before Mr. Trump took office.

“What he’s been able to do by executive order,” has been minimal, according to Dr. Bositis, “like promot(ing) coal—like anybody thinks coal as a fuel is a good idea. No one does, not even the 20 people still left in the coal mining industry. The things that he’s done have been nothing. He’s had no successes. The only success he’s had is in his mind.”

“A telling moment came a few days ago,” Dr. Horne pointed out. “Just as the Republicans in Congress were on the verge of passing this Robin-Hood-in-Reverse tax bill, Mr. Trump diverted the attention of many, by Tweeting these Islamophobic videos from a right-wing fringe group in Britain. In other words, the rich are getting tax cuts, and his working class and middle-class base, are receiving a substantial dose of bigotry,” Dr. Horne continued.

“He did things before he took office where he is being investigated by a special prosecutor,” said Dr. Bositis. “That is so unprecedented. Some of his closest associates have been indicted, or pled guilty. He’s doing things like just recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel that are so out of it. He hasn’t accomplished anything.”

Several high-profile Trump appointments also resigned or were fired this year including: press secretary Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon, communications director Anthony Scaramucci and most recently, director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, Omarosa Manigault -Newman. 

Though his approval ratings have declined steadily during his year in office, many of his hardcore supporters are sticking with him and despite vocal opposition from some members of his own party, many Republicans in Congress still voted in line with the commander in chief on various legislative efforts. Senator Bob Corker (R-S.C.) who verbally spired with the president several times this year, even challenging his fitness to serve, voted for Mr. Trump’s tax plan.

“But I think Trump is still very dangerous,” said Dr. Lusane, “because he still has support for his policies in the Republican establishment, and among the Republican base.”

Ironically, Mr. Trump’s policies will hurt many of those same supporters the most. “And the one that they’re looking forward to—this Robin-Hood-in-reverse-tax bill, ironically will be quite punishing to his White middle-class and working-class base,” said Dr. Horne.

“What’s good news, I think for the country, is that the resistance to the Trump agenda, and to the Republican agenda overall, has not only grown, but has become extremely active,” said Dr. Lusane. “I think that will manifest, not only in elections in 2018, but also in how people organize and mobilize around policies. Because it won’t just be the elections that we have to deal with, we’ve got to deal with what has been a complete, regressive, right-wing agenda on policy from housing, to health care, to education, to the environment, cutting across the spectrum.”

Next year is an election year, Dr. Bositis pointed out. “The Republicans right now are very worried about what’s going to happen next year. Next year could be a disaster for the Republicans, and 2019 is going to be an even bigger disaster for Donald Trump, if Democrats take control (of Congress)” and initiate numerous investigations of administration activities.

“It really is hard to believe that the system allowed that guy to become President of the United States,” said Dr. Bositis.

Both Drs. Horne and Lusane agreed. “I also think that alternatively, the pace and level of struggle against Mr. Trump will accelerate,” said Dr. Horne.

“But I do think that the resistance has grown, has consolidated, and will be a major factor in next year’s elections as well as in policies as a whole,” said Dr. Lusane. No Republican “should feel safe about anything,” Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters after the defeat of Republican Alabama senate candidate, Judge Roy Moore. “Our party is in turmoil.”

“What we look forward to in 2018 I believe, is a tightening of the noose by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, around the White House,” said Dr. Horne. “I think that further evidence will emerge of impropriety on the part of Mr. Trump and his comrades in the run-up to the November 2018 elections. I also think that alternatively, the pace and level of struggle against Mr. Trump will accelerate,” he said.

The recent statewide election losses in Southern states Virginia, and politically “deep-red” Alabama, suggest the Trump-plan may be losing some of its savor. “Thus far, that has been a winning combination for Mr. Trump, and for his one percent backers,” Dr. Horne concluded.

(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)