I'm not sure that I should be giving Donald Trump the gratification of writing about him once again - I am already heartily sick of reading about his shenanigans day after day, and even recent Canadian news stories are almost all linked in some way to him, or to the Canadian reaction to him - but the public needs to be fully aware, if they are not already, of the enormity of the grand experiment the American electorate are currently embarked upon.
The BBC has done a good summary of the man's first week in office, and it is a scary thing to behold:
- Day 1 - Trump is inaugurated as the 45th American president (and the only one to date with zero political or military experience) with an ominous and depressing speech about just how grim and dysfunctional modern America is ("American carnage", you know). Protests are held throughout the world and some of them turn violent. In his spare time, Trump signs an executive order calling on federal agencies to "ease the burden of Obamacare", although this is a largely symbolic move.
- Day 2 - The protests and inauguration crowds of Day 1 are dwarfed by the hundreds of Women's Marches held worldwide, which attract literally millions of attendees. Trump, however, chooses to use his press conference at CIA headquarters to bluster (falsely) about how his inauguration crowds were the largest ever, and to denounce the lying press and their photographic evidence to the contrary.
- Day 3 - Trump's counsellor Kellyanne Conway tries to defend Trump and his press secretary Sean Spicer, claiming that their crowd estimates were not lies but "alternative facts", thus giving birth to a whole internet meme. Meanwhile, Trump dismisses the mass protests of the previous day with a lame tweet.
- Day 4 - The serious stuff starts as Trump promises American business leaders he will cut regulations by 75%, whatever that might mean. He then proceeds to pull the plug on years of multi-national TPP negotiations at a single stroke. He also signs another executive order banning US federal money from going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortions, the so-called "global gag order" that most Republican administrations reinstate each time after the previous Democratic administration repeals it. The photo of seven middle-aged guys ruling on women's reproductive rights goes viral. Trump also implements a hiring freeze on federal government workers on the basis that the federal workforce has expanded hugely in recent years, even though in reality it has been very steady for at least the last 12 years. A group of American ethics lawyers files a lawsuit alleging that Trump is violating constitutional law by not completely divesting his business interests like previous presidents (but don't hold your breath...) Busy day.
- Day 5 - Two executive actions breathe new life into two moribund and controversial oil pipelines, Keystone XL and Dakota Access, both of which had been blocked by President Obama. The oil industry applauds, while the Standing Rock Sioux tribe continue their ongoing protest regardless, and environmentalists tut-tut "I told you so". Attack dog Sean Spicer resurrects Trump's claims (against all the evidence) that millions of illegal voters voted in the election, all of them apparently for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, Trump confirms that James Comey (the man considered by many to have been instrumental in Clinton's election loss) is to remain as Director of the FBI. He also orders a freeze on all new contracts and grants for, and a complete media blackout on, the Environmental Protection Agency, which he clearly doesn't like.
- Day 6 - Trump confirms in another executive order that he was actually serious about that damned wall along the Mexican border. He also moves to withhold funds from so-called "sanctuary cities" (like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, Los Angeles and Boston) that protect undocumented migrants within their borders, although it is not quite clear how that might work in practice. And he reiterates that he is still a big fan of waterboarding torture, even if his Defence Secretary and CIA Director are not. An even more contentious draft executive order emerges later in the day calling for a 120-day block on all refugees from entering the USA, the complete suspension of the Syrian refugee program, and the cessation of visas for several Muslim-majority countries (so-called "Division O" countries, that "have tremendous terror", as Trump puts it, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian and Yemen), the justification being to protect America from terrorist attacks. A swift American Civil Liberties Union court case has already ruled against the 90-day barring of refugees and Muslim visa holders, which had left an estimated 100-200 being held at airports or in transit.
- Day 7 - A planned meeting between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is cancelled when Peña Nieto declines to pay for Trump's planned wall. Trump spokespeople change tack and say that the wall will be paid for by a 20% tax on Mexican imports, an idea that the Mexicans also, predictably, dismiss. British Prime Minster Theresa May, however, is happy to schmooze with Trump, blathering about the "special relationship" between the two countries that she clearly fondly remembers from her youth.
- Day 8 - Trump "jokes" about severing that special relationship if the British press continue asking awkward questions about his stance on abortion, torture, etc. Rumours continue to swirl that Trump will lift sanctions against Russia. Two new executive orders are announced ordering new ships, planes, resources and tools for the military, and creating new vetting measures to combat radical Islamic terrorism.
Wow. It looks like some of Mr. Trump's most outrageous election promises might just be in the process of becoming reality, although it still remains to be seen whether he will actually be able to put some of these executive orders into practice (even executive actions cannot contravene existing laws, for example).
A week in politics is starting to feel like a lifetime.
A week in politics is starting to feel like a lifetime.