Skip to main content

100 days in, what came true?

100 days in, what came true?


If there’s any silver lining in President Trump’s first days in the White House, it’s that his unfitness for office — his uneven temperament, his intolerance for detail, his evident irritation at the demands of governing — has shielded the nation from his worst instincts.

In April 2016, when few pundits gave Trump much chance of victory, the Globe Opinion team tried to imagine, via the satirical Ideas cover pictured here, how the world might look should he keep his promises. In key ways, our page was eerily prescient. Trump’s inauguration address was a pure expression of “America First” spleen. He moved swiftly on his signature issue, immigration. His relations with foreign leaders — the prime minister of Australia! — turned immediately hostile. And as our all-Trump satirical page intimated, he’s crowded out all other discussion, leaving a nation of 325 million people hanging on his every whim.

Our page did, however, omit one fateful word: Russia. (More on that here.) Beyond that, we overestimated Trump’s ability to turn the federal bureaucracy toward sinister ends. From the start, his staff has been riven with infighting. Beneath a Cabinet of fourth-stringers lie hundreds of unfilled posts. Courts blocked his early immigration orders because he’d made the prejudice behind them too obvious. We worried about brownshirts, but the country’s being run by Keystone Kops.

Chaos at the pinnacle of American power is not an outcome to root for. When Trump’s administration rashly threatens North Korea with the Navy, and doesn’t even realize US ships are moving in the opposite direction, he’s exposing the world to greater risk. Meanwhile, if and when Trump finds his bearings as president, he can take all the misguided steps our page foresaw — and more.

Topic 1 of 8

What we predicted

Deportations to begin

Mass deportations cause civil unrest in cities nationwide as ICE raids continue.

Read original article
Deportations to begin David McNew/Getty Images

What actually happened

Trump can’t build a border wall or raise a deportation force without money from Congress, which has its own priorities and its own dysfunctions. What he did do was to erase the distinction between dangerous criminals in the country illegally and children brought here by their parents before they could walk. Immigration arrests are up more than 30 percent, while the arrest of those without a criminal record has more than doubled.

Everyone in the country without the proper papers — from college students who’ve lived here their whole lives, to human traffickers caught in the desert — is now eligible for deportation. They fear it. Which is exactly what Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions want.

Trump backers note that while deportations are being ramped up, thus far it looks a lot like what happened under President Obama. ICE removed 35,604 people during the first two months of the year. During the same period last year, 35,255 were deported. Along the border, nearly 17,000 people have been apprehended for illegal crossings, a 17-year low, down from 60,000 in December. (Stiffer enforcement has likely led smugglers to increase prices, explaining part of the decline.) There are many anecdotal reports of the impact of these policy changes — from the woman who voted for Trump only to see her husband deported, to numerous violent felons who have been sent home.

Something we didn’t mention on the front page — frankly, because it seemed so blatantly un-American, let alone unconstitutional — was a proposed ban on Muslims entering the country, which Trump made on Dec. 7, 2015. But 417 days after he made that pledge, the president signed an executive order banning nearly all travelers with passports from seven Muslim-majority nations. The move created chaos at several airports, and the courts stepped in. A federal judge later pointed to Trump’s own campaign rhetoric in blocking a reversion of the initial order.

As for some details we predicted one year ago: The Old Post Office is indeed a Trump hotel. Chris Christie isn’t the attorney general. Megyn Kelly fled Fox News for NBC. The protests against Trump haven’t yet prompted curfews in multiple cities. Though they’ve been historic in number, they’ve also been notably peaceful. And while sanctuary cities whose federal funding has been threatened haven’t erupted in round-the-clock unrest, they have hit back preemptively in federal court.

Topic 2 of 8

What we predicted

Markets sink as trade war looms

Looming trade wars against China and Mexico send stocks spiraling downward.

Read original article
Markets sink as trade war looms Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

What actually happened

Here’s one area in which Trump’s policies haven’t tracked his campaign promises. On the trail, he was a full-throated populist. He railed against Wall Street, and he vowed to pull the United States out of trade treaties and slap tariffs on foreign-made goods. Those threats, we predicted, would spook companies that depend on overseas supply chains.

But if Trump sounded like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail, he isn’t governing that way. In fact, Trump’s tough talk on trade hasn’t yielded any concrete policy changes. Meanwhile, the new president has filled key economic posts with alumni of Goldman Sachs. Not coincidentally, stock markets surged in the months after Trump’s election — largely on the strength of a financial sector that won’t face new regulations anytime soon — before plateauing in March.

On this point, we were wrong, just not in a way that provides any solace to the frustrated Midwestern workers who put Trump in office.

Topic 3 of 8

What we predicted

Bank glitch halts border wall

Read original article
Bank glitch halts border wall Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

What actually happened

The biggest applause line during the Trump campaign — besides shouting down protesters, of course — was the promise to build a wall along the Mexican border and deport illegal aliens.

But it isn’t a bank glitch that’s held back plans for a border wall. Congress seems lukewarm on the idea, which an MIT study estimates will cost $38 billion. Then there’s the marketplace: Many of the nation’s top engineering and construction firms aren’t interested in bidding for the potentially lucrative government contracts, fearing both a political backlash as well as blacklisting by states like California and New York, which have introduced legislation to that effect.

Topic 4 of 8

What we predicted

Trump on Nobel prize short list

Read original article
Trump on Nobel prize short list Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

What actually happened

Trump has breezily promised to accomplish lots of big goals — from reviving American manufacturing to replacing Obamacare with “something beautiful” — that would intimidate more detail-oriented politicians. He’s even suggested he could make peace in the Middle East. This short item envisioned a Trump who, true to his word, could strike even the hardest, most elusive deals.

There’s no sign of it so far. Trump has sidelined his own secretary of state, former Exxon chief Rex Tillerson, and asked son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has no diplomatic experience, to lead the administration’s Middle East initiatives.

Topic 5 of 8

What we predicted

US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families

Trump demands that militants’ families be killed, but soldiers in the field disobey him.

Read original article
US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families Felipe Dana/Associated Press

What actually happened

Trump’s record as commander in chief is all show with little to show for it. His promised secret plan to destroy ISIS? Still a big secret.

In fact, we know little about the campaign that the US military is fighting against ISIS because the Pentagon is no longer providing details about missions or troop numbers. What we do know is that the fight against ISIS continues to be costly to civilians. An investigation was launched into a recent US airstrike that killed as many as 200 civilians in Mosul, Iraq. That would be the largest civilian death toll in a single incident since the 2003 invasion.

In Afghanistan, Trump authorized the use of one of the biggest bombs in the US arsenal. The b-roll looked dramatic on cable news, but the course and purpose of the war remain as nebulous as ever.

In response to the release of sarin gas in Syria, the White House ordered a missile attack against a government airbase. The facility, which the Russian air force also uses, was up and running just hours after the attack. Meanwhile, the White House outraged South Korea and confused the world when it announced that an aircraft carrier was headed to the peninsula in advance of a rumored North Korean nuclear test, when it was actually steaming in the other direction.

A missile attack near Russian jets and a naval head fake against one of the world’s most reclusive and unpredictably dangerous nuclear powers may strike Trump supporters as swaggering statecraft. But it is a dangerous game of chicken with calamity, with little to gain and everything to lose.

Topic 6 of 8

What we predicted

New libel law targets ‘absolute scum’ in press

President cracks down on the free press by relaxing libel laws.

Read original article
New libel law targets ‘absolute scum’ in press Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

What actually happened

Trump’s unhealthy media diet appears to consist of hours of empty calories from his cheerleaders on Fox News. Little wonder that the presidency hasn’t mellowed his criticism of the press. “The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?” the leader of the free world tweeted in March.

Fortunately, that threat has little backing in Congress. But Trump has found other ways to undermine the press — and, indeed, the very idea of objective truth. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, makes demonstrably false statements at media briefings. Frequent media surrogate Kellyanne Conway infamously defended lies as “alternative facts.” Trump tars reporters as “the enemy of the people” and dismisses any unflattering information as “fake news.” The sustained attack on non-Breitbart journalism has come at a cost for professional journalists, who’ve had their addresses and names of their children posted online by Trump supporters. Reporters with Jewish sounding names have been singled out for particular abuse by Trump-backers in the alt-right. The Washington Post, meanwhile, had to hire a bodyguard to protect one of its reporters.

Our page overestimated Trump’s ability to push legislation through Congress but, if anything, underestimated his determination to create a reality-distortion field around himself. Instead of straight-up authoritarianism, Trump is corroding the unwritten norms that once kept our democracy strong.

Topic 7 of 8

What we predicted

Diplomatic dogfights

Trump blunders into needless squabble with China.

Read original article
Diplomatic dogfights Evan Vucci/Associated Press

What actually happened

When an irascible neophyte becomes president, one danger is that he’ll start an international incident over nothing — as we imagined in this absurdist item, in which Trump causes a diplomatic kerfuffle by naming a new puppy after Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s wife.

What we never would have predicted is that, in real life, Trump’s worst diplomatic slights would be directed at America’s strongest allies. He got into a shouting match with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a phone call, and then proceeded to hang up on him. He chose not to shake German chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand before reporters at a White House meeting. He infuriated stalwart ally South Korea by saying that Korea had once been part of China — apparently because Xi had told him so.

Trump’s relations with Beijing have been mixed. Just before his inauguration, Trump spoke on the phone with the democratically elected president of Taiwan — a self-governing island that China wants back. Since then, Trump has reaffirmed the “one China” policy; Beijing, meanwhile, has granted Trump’s company trademark protections that it had long sought but not previously received.

Topic 8 of 8

What we predicted

Miscellaneous mishaps

Read original article
Miscellaneous mishaps Mark Wilson/Getty Images

What actually happened

These items poked fun at Trump’s tendency toward self-aggrandizement, and of his unusually shallow pool of supporters capable of stepping into important policy jobs.

No, Kid Rock isn’t the ambassador to Japan; in real life, he and fellow Trump-supporting rocker Ted Nugent have merely been feted at the White House and touted as possible candidates for US Senate in Michigan.

No, Trump didn’t choose Omarosa Manigault as secretary of education; instead, she has a job on the White House staff. For what it’s worth, the former “The Apprentice” contestant isn’t much less qualified to oversee federal education efforts than Trump’s eventual nominee, Betsy DeVos, a prominent campaign donor who struggled during her confirmation hearing with basic questions related to special education and student testing.

So far, Trump hasn’t put his own name on Yellowstone National Park or demanded that NASA put gold leaf on unmanned probes. Among his first acts as president, though, was to sign a proclamation declaring Jan. 20, 2017, the date of his inauguration, as a “national day of patriotic devotion.”

As for our prediction that the 45th president would publish a romance novel entitled “A Trumping to Remember”: Not yet.