In Gettysburg in October, candidate Donald Trump promised his first 100 days in office would produce "the kind of change that only arrives once in a lifetime." That hasn't happened. Instead, Americans have learned during Trump's first 100 days that he often gets in trouble when he speaks.
True to pattern for him, as Saturday's milestone approaches, Trump is downplaying its significance. "I think the 100 days is, you know, it's an artificial barrier. It's not very meaningful," he told the Associated Press. Last week, he tweeted: "No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!"
Connecting the verbiage, the president has said his first 100 days are going to be a once-in-a-lifetime change, an artificial barrier, a ridiculous standard, and, as always, the press' fault. He got this part right: the first 100 days of a presidency is an artificial construct. But he's the one who set such high expectations for his first three months in office.
Some analysts use the first 100 days to compare other presidents with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who during the Depression drove tremendous changes in his first 100 days, including shutting down the entire banking system, creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and rebuilding public confidence in the government.
Trump's first 100 days have had the opposite effect, as evidenced by his poll numbers. His promises of swift action are largely unfulfilled: No wall on the border with Mexico is going up, and, if it ever does, U.S. taxpayers will likely foot the bill. His promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has stalled in Congress. The courts have blocked his travel ban on several Muslim countries. He no longer calls China a currency manipulator. He has yet to raise import taxes or penalize companies for sending jobs overseas. He's made zero progress on college affordability or expanding vocational education.
Trump did get Neil Gorsuch confirmed for the Supreme Court, the Keystone XL pipeline approved, and has started pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That's apparently enough to satisfy his staunchest supporters, but many Americans have registered their objections to his policies by participating in peaceful protests, including Saturday's March for Science and the earlier Women's March.
The demonstrators haven't moved Trump. He appears firmly committed to stick with his agenda, no matter how much it keeps the country divided. And it will.
The mean-spirited replacements for Obamacare that Trump favors would make health care unaffordable for millions. His dismantling of environmental and financial protections, combined with an incoherent foreign policy, proposed tax cuts for the rich, troubling business conflicts, and nagging questions about possible Russian influence on his election campaign all point to a tumultuous future for his administration.
With more than 1,300 days ahead of him, Trump may yet learn how to use the presidency to improve more people's lives. If that doesn't happen, each additional 100 days of his term will bring the nation closer to the day many will be glad he's gone.