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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

How Trump Fell Into His Own 100-Day Trap

Everyone knows the feeling: There’s a big deadline coming up at work, and you’re not sure you’re going to get everything you need done before it. As the end of the semester approaches at colleges around the nation, plenty of students are feeling it, and President Trump can sympathize:

The tweet is the latest whiff of panic wafting from the White House ahead of April 29, which marks the hundredth day of Trump’s presidency. Another one came on Thursday, with the administration mounting a renewed effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, despite no indication that the politics in the House of Representatives have moved far enough to make the latest push any less Quixotic than the last catastrophic attempt.

But Trump has been eyeing the 100-day mark with dread for some time, as Shane Goldmacher reported in Politico on April 10.

“One hundred days is the marker, and we’ve got essentially two and a half weeks to turn everything around,” a White...

Trump Has Raised His Approval Ratings by Embracing His Inner Bomb

Since before he became president on Jan. 20, Donald Trump’s approval ratings have been low, to say the least: Trump has consistently registered lower than any president in recent history, even when comparing his performance with predecessors dealing with especially difficult circumstances (the Great Recession, for instance).

As of April 18,—88 days into his term—Trump’s approval rating is 39% according to the Marist Poll, 41% per Gallup, and 40% per a CBS News poll. Low as these numbers may be, there are good news for the president, significantly up from the end of March, when at 35% according to Gallup, Trump had its worst rating ever.

The trend has flipped upward for Trump. And it’s not because his record on keeping electoral promises has significantly improved. No, something else looks to be the cause of his increase in popularity—war, or the threat of it.

Since April 6, the president has turned his attention to military actions. He hit Bashar al-Assad with a Tomahawk-missile strike after the Syrian dictator unleashed a chemical attack on his own people; he threatened North Korea (and its leader—whoever that may be); his air force dropped a huge bomb...

Obama and Trump Are Proof the U.S. Needs Checks on Presidential Power — Whichever Party is in Charge

For nearly 17 years, I have been complaining about US presidents’ executive orders. First under George W. Bush, and then under Barack Obama, I was worried about the use of decrees as a substitute for legislation.

But I noticed a pattern. My Democrat friends shared my worries about Bush’s executive orders. And it’s fair to say Bush was pretty aggressive—restricting travel, authorizing domestic spying, and imposing a near-prohibition on stem cell research. But when Obama was president, they made excuses for his decrees on immigration and health care. “Congress is gridlocked!” they’d point out, noting that Republicans had blocked, and vowed to continue to block, Democratic legislation. “We have to get things done, and this is the only way.” My repeated question—“What if a tyrant ever won the presidency?”—seemed hypothetical and abstract.

After the election of Donald Trump, the question doesn’t seem so abstract to my left-leaning friends anymore. One came into my office and admitted a new interest in the Federalist Papers—the collection of essays explaining the principles that underlie the US Constitution. It’s easy to shrug off presidential power grabs when your own party is in charge. But the...

Trump Goes Back To the Future on Foreign Policy

Since World War Two, there has been a broad bi­par­tis­an con­sensus that Amer­ica must play an act­ive role in main­tain­ing a lib­er­al world or­der. Even if con­ser­vat­ive hawks have been more eager to pro­ject force and lib­er­al in­ter­na­tion­al­ists pre­ferred dip­lomacy, there was wide­spread agree­ment that Amer­ica had an es­sen­tial role in pro­tect­ing the peace and pro­mot­ing shared in­terests. That con­sensus was threatened in re­cent years: first, by former Pres­id­ent Obama’s in­stinct­ive op­pos­i­tion to pro­ject Amer­ic­an power over­seas; later, by Pres­id­ent Trump’s ag­gress­ively isol­a­tion­ist “Amer­ica First” rhet­or­ic that cap­tured the en­thu­si­asm of a world-weary con­ser­vat­ive base.

Trump’s de­cision to strike Syr­ia in the wake of Bashar al-As­sad’s chem­ic­al-weapons at­tack against his cit­izens sug­gests a be­lated re­turn to nor­mal­ity. It’s a...

Why the CBO Scares Donald Trump

The Trump administration declared its war against facts early, and with panache, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer striding to a podium the day after the inauguration to lay out a series of patently untrue assertions, and Kellyanne Conway christening them “alternative facts” the following day.

The White House’s disdain for facts has become such a given that it was quickly invoked to explain the administration’s broadside against the Congressional Budget Office, which began days before CBO had even completed its analysis of the House’s Obamacare replacement plan. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt, for example, tweeted:

But the attempt to undermine CBO isn’t just about independent sources of information so much as independent conclusions. It represents a different war, or at least a different front, than the war on facts. It’s an assault on independent analysis.

CBO has long been an object of derision for partisans of both stripes who have quibbled with the methods the office has used to assess the cost of bills. In 2009, President Obama complained that the...