President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office were anything but boring, which became clear during a Conference of World Affairs panel held Wednesday afternoon.
The panel, titled “Trump’s First 100 Days: Are We Great Yet?” featured Robert G. Kaufman, Mark Fallon, Stephen Moore and John Harrison Nichols. They held a wide-range of viewpoints on President Trump’s time in office thus far, and at times engaged with each other in a heated debate.
Nichols, the national affairs correspondent for the Nation and author of several books, began the discussion by arguing that Trump failed to do the one thing all presidents must do in their first 100 days in office: prove to the American people, especially those who voted for their opposition, that they are capable of doing the job.
CNN political analyst Moore agreed that Trump needs to raise his approval ratings before he is able to accomplish anything big, but otherwise had a less-critical opinion of the topic. After addressing various mistakes Trump has made so far, he noted recent economic upturns as a major benefit for the administration.
“What Americans care about is jobs and the economy,” Moore said before making the point that the economy has been doing better since the election.
He also said that if Trump is able to bring back jobs, then nothing else he has done is really going to matter.
The other two speakers took a different approach to assessing Trump’s first 100 days, with more of a focus on foreign policy and national security than domestic affairs. Fallon, international security consultant and career national security professional, gave a chronological account of the Trump presidency. He began with the removal of references to civil rights and global warming from the White House webpage on day one, and ended with the FISA warrant issued Tuesday for Carter Page, an advisor to the president.
“From a national security perspective, the first 82 days have been a clown act,” Fallon said.
His central point was that, in the short time Trump has been in office, national security has been substantially weakened. He also addressed the overarching question posed to the panel, and said that America will be great when patriotism is a greater determinant for governmental action than partisanship.
Kaufman, a political scientist and an American foreign policy specialist, completed the panel. Like Fallon, he indicated his answer to the question, “Are we great yet?” And while Kaufman did not respond with a resounding yes, he did make the argument that the country is better off than it was 100 days ago.
“With Donald Trump, it’s like spam, you don’t really know what you are eating,” Kaufman said.
But while Trump may be imperfect, he is certainly better than the continuation of the “disastrous” Barack Obama years we would have had if Hillary Clinton were elected, Kaufman continued. He outlined the various things Trump could do to set the country on a path towards greatness, despite the audience’s poor reaction to his statements.
Nichols responded to this and claimed that “it is a Sean Spicer absurdity” to suggest we are better off than we were 100 days ago. He continued, saying we are a less safe and functional country because “a man who lied to us is now sitting in our presidency.”
The conflicting views held by the panelists produced a lively and thought-provoking discussion regarding Trump’s first 100 days. The audience, which filled most of Macky Auditorium, was enthralled and engaged — whether they were booing or applauding. And one thing most people in the room seemed to agree on is that Trump is anything but predictable.
“Into the better part of his first 100 days, we are sitting here trying to read the tea leaves,” Nichols said.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Emily McPeak at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @emily_mcpeak.