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Counting the days to failure

POSTED: May 9, 2017 7:00 p.m.
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Bob Franken is an Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist.

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Those who worry that they are closed-minded because they can’t conceive of agreeing with anything Donald Trump says or does can stop beating up on themselves. He’s finally come up with something sensible, calling the intense focus on any president’s first 100 days in office a "ridiculous standard." It is ridiculous, largely media hype, a contrived way to judge how a new administration is doing.

For the record, Trump is doing a miserable job. He’s a reverse King Midas. Everything he touches is tarnished, and it’s not even gold to begin with, except maybe fool’s gold. Still, the hundred-day marker means very little. The first one that means anything politically comes 650-plus days in, on Nov. 6, 2018.

That would be the day of the midterm elections, when Americans choose a full House of Representatives, 435 seats, and a third of the Senate, 34 this time around. Right now, both are in GOP hands. But Democrats are hoping mightily that Trump will have made such a mess of things that they will overcome the odds and somehow take back Capitol Hill, or at least half of it.

There are several problems with that strategy, of course. First of all, Democrats have this bad habit of beating themselves — they are usually their own worst enemies. Exhibit A would be their most recent presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton should have scampered to victory, far outdistancing the buffoon running against her. Instead, she hung a "kick me" sign on herself and stood there while Donald Trump did just that. That was after Trump had done everything he could to divide his party.

But the Democrats, who specialize in party division, came up with antagonisms of their own. Suddenly, it was Bernie Sanders and the Sandernistas fighting Hillary Clinton and the Clintonistas. The infighting overwhelmed the outfighting, sapping the strength and enthusiasm of Democrats. Instead of riding the Clinton coattails, Democratic candidates for Congress tripped on them. And they have an innate ability to do so again in the midterms.

The other problem with running against President Trump and his embarrassments is that they might be worse than embarrassments. His domestic policies are disgraceful. His immigration policy could be called borderline bigotry if it weren’t for it being full-fledged bigotry. His approaches health care, taxes and trade, along with other economic and environmental policies, are designed to make the rich richer. Period.

The nation can’t be a world power much longer with such a divide between the wealthy and everyone else.

That’s even more the case when it comes to Trump’s geopolitics. By treating various crises like he’s negotiating for a casino property, he’s gambling with the planet. Just one miscalculation, just one enemy that doesn’t back down in the face of his amateurish bluster, and he’ll either fold or cause a deadly disaster. Either one will bring the United States serious harm.

A hundred days in, we are moving precariously close to such a scenario. So the Democrats can’t wish too hard for a downtrodden President Trump, because he may take his country down too. Actually, short of impeachment, the next chance to replace him is more than 1,300 days away, Nov. 3, 2020.

As the song goes, he’s only just begun.

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