January 20 is the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration.
I have known nine presidents, beginning with President Richard Nixon. Of those nine presidents, the only one who was as effective as President Trump in his first year was President Ronald Reagan.
That judgment may surprise a lot of people because the opposition in the news media and among the left-wing “resistance” has been so strong and one-sided that they have consistently misrepresented and maligned President Trump and his administration.
This effort has produced a distorted, minimized view of what has been accomplished by this remarkably energetic and controversial Commander in Chief in the White House.
To understand the current distortions, remember what a year ago was like.
In January 2017, it seemed amazing that this businessman-publicist-marketer defeated 16 other Republicans for the GOP nomination and then defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the presidency.
It seemed equally extraordinary that he won the general elections in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. These were states which had consistently voted for Democratic presidential candidates in recent years. One could have made a lot of money betting on the entire trifecta going to Trump.
These achievements sent the Left into a state of shock. The day after President Trump’s inauguration, they organized mass rallies in Washington and other cities across the country. Left-wing protestors promised “resistance” to the so-called “imposter,” who they simply could not accept as President of the United States. At the rally on the National Mall, Madonna proclaimed, “I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” The crowd loved it.
Professor Allen Guelzo, the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College, commented that the last time we saw this depth of hostility and contempt for a president was after the election of Abraham Lincoln. The slave owners in South Carolina and other parts of the South absolutely loathed him.
One year after President Trump’s inauguration, the Left’s hostility toward him is even worse.
The White House Press Corps’ reaction to White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson’s briefing on President Trump’s annual physical was a perfect example of this hostility. The media’s antagonistic (and just plain stupid) questions proved the propaganda war against Trump was not going away.
After a highly-respected Navy Rear Admiral, who served as White House physician in both the Bush and Obama White Houses, clearly and explicitly reported to the media that President Trump was in excellent physical health for his age – and that he had completed a flawless cognitive exam – the White House Press Corps doggedly repeated ludicrous questions, clearly seeking to undermine the doctor’s assessment and skew his report to fit the phony narrative that the President is “unfit for office.”
This TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome), unfortunately, has become a major barrier to accurate coverage of the Trump Presidency.
So, in a highly polarized world of intense media hostility with overwhelmingly negative coverage of President Trump, how can we assess his first year?
The best way is to look at results and measure them against what candidate Trump said he would try to accomplish.
Trump promised to appoint conservative judges to the federal courts. With advice from Leonard Leo, Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society and remarkable leadership in the Senate by Mitch McConnell, President Trump has delivered Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a justice dramatically more conservative than anyone Hillary Clinton would have appointed. Additionally, in Trump’s first 12 months, 12 Appellate Court Judges have been approved by the Senate. As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) pointed out, no other first-year president has seated this many Appellate Court Judges in the 228-year history of the court.
Trump is also now, without question, the all-time champion of rolling back red tape as he has taken on the Washington bureaucracy and deregulating. Under President Trump, the Congress has eliminated 14 Obama-era regulations through the Congressional Review Act. The current estimate is that the Trump Administration is repealing 22 regulations for every new one it has created. This is a major contribution to economic growth and a big plus in implementing campaign promises.
Trump promised a new, smarter, lower-risk strategy to enable the military to do its job and defeat ISIS. ISIS has lost virtually all its territory at minimum risk. This is yet another promise kept.
Iran and North Korea must be considered works in progress. Neither problem has been solved but neither has imposed its will, as of this writing.
Announcing that the Israeli Embassy would be moved to Jerusalem is another campaign promise in which Trump followed through, and it doesn’t seem to have caused any major disruption in the Arab world.
Trump’s instincts for rebuilding the American military are right, but he has not yet solved the problem of getting the Congress to pass the stable funding stream the military must have.
On the other hand, Trump methodically waged a disciplined 11-month campaign to get the large tax cut he believes the American economy needs if it is to grow faster.
The response of the American business community to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been more positive and more visible than anyone could have hoped.
He is also making good on his pledge to make better trade deals for America. Saudi Arabia alone signed as much as $400 billion in contracts with American companies during Trump’s visit to Riyadh.
As a result of President Trump’s economic leadership, the “new normal” of less than 2 percent annual economic growth is rapidly being replaced by estimates in the range of 3.5 to 4 percent.
At the same time, the black unemployment rate is down dramatically, and CEO and small business confidence are up dramatically.
The first year has seen some disappointments. Failing to repeal Obamacare was painful. Not even getting started on infrastructure has been disappointing. Failing to develop conservative solutions for poverty in America has been unfortunate. Allowing the symbolic language and arguments about race to drive people apart has been counter to the promise inherent in Trump’s Inaugural Address.
However, on balance, it is fair to say President Trump has already achieved so much that he rivals Reagan as an effective, focused leader, and we are incredibly fortunate to have him in the White House as our nation’s 45th President.
Newt Gingrich is a contributor to Fox News and a former Speaker of the House.