In one of his first official acts as President, Donald Trump issued an executive order taking his first swing at Obamacare. The order, signed in the Oval Office this evening, directs the federal government "to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" of the Affordable Care Act. But beyond its general emphasis on easing the burden and giving the states more flexibility, it doesn't offer specific guidance or direction.
The full text of the executive order:
This is from President Trump's new official White House bio ...
Mr. Trump won the election on November 8 of 2016 in the largest electoral college landslide for a Republican in 28 years. He won over 2,600 counties nationwide, the most since President Reagan in 1984. Additionally, he won over 62 million votes in the popular vote, the highest all-time for a Republican nominee. He also won 306 electoral votes, the most for a Republican since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
"America First" has now be spoken in an inaugural address. This was quite similar to Trump's convention speech: dark, defiant, filled with talk of "American carnage", a landscape dotted with tombstones. This was vintage campaign Trump. "Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge, and the crime, and the gangs, and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."
If you didn't hear it, that's about all you need to know. This speech was about grievance and reclamation, reclaiming power, wealth from those who've stolen it. These themes can make sense and be salutary for countries which are weak, battered and poor. When they become the rallying cry for the strongest and wealthiest of countries, that is always dangerous. Our work is cut out for us.
Let me share a few thoughts on this moment and what it portends in the days and years ahead. Optimism is not primarily a prediction but an ethic, a philosophy, a way of confronting the world. I know many people are not simply disappointed about today's events but gripped by a deep apprehension and worry. This is natural, logical. What we are seeing transpire, because of the person and character of the man who is about to become President, is unlike anything any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Trump is a bully. He is not just ignorant but militantly ignorant. He is palpably driven by a need to dominate in every case. He has the most fragile of egos. His vision of leadership is one we find from strongmen in pseudo-democracies and soft dictatorships. His most driving needs are to be praised, loved and to dominate. All of these qualities, not simply in the abstract but in how we have seen them manifest in recent months, are wholly at odds with democratic leadership and the rule of law.
Here are a couple photos that will help put crowd size today in context, after the jump.
The New York Times is out with a story tonight which is little short of astonishing on the eve of a presidential inauguration. From the Times article ...
"American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said."
Just to state this clearly, that means that on the eve of Trump's inauguration the nation's top law enforcement and intelligence agencies are pursuing a counter-intelligence probe of contacts and payments between key members of his campaign and Russia. We have not been here before.
If you don't like Donald Trump and don't approve of what he's doing, rejoice. You've got a lot of company. We have another approval number out tonight, this one from Fox News of all places. Donald Trump's approval number is 37%. 54% disapprove.
With Fox added, we now have a poll from each of the major TV networks. What is most notable is the level of unanimity. Fox (37%) ABC (40%), CBS (37%), CNN (40%), NBC (44%). Add in Quinnipiac (37%) and Gallup (44%) and you've got a simple average of about 40% approval, with the most recent polls both coming in at 37%.
We're now learning that President-Elect Trump wanted a full Soviet-style inaugural parade, with tanks, missiles and missile launchers. The Pentagon nixed that idea but agreed to a jet fighter flyover. In an interview published Wednesday morning Trump had spoken about his desire to hold military parades during his presidency. But this is the first sign he had tried to hold a Soviet style military parade for his inauguration.