I have friends and relatives who are supporters of President Trump, and when I ask them why, they usually give me three general areas in which they think that the President is doing a good job: the economy, our leadership on the world stage, and his support of the military.
There is no doubt the stock market is doing well, but does that actually reflect the true state of the economy? I think the answer is no. We have to remember that the economy is the sum total of all the goods and services produced in the country, while the stock market is basically a series of bets on how individual companies will do in that economy. These bets are made with the precision of a professional sports gambler who looks at the record of the team, the health of the key players and the weather and makes bets accordingly. The stock broker looks at trade policy, unemployment records, housing and management, then decides which companies will do well within the economy. The stock market has done well in the last two years because of the tax reforms of 2017, which because of stock buy-back programs, increased share value without actually increasing the economy. This model has increased the wealth of a relative few, while doing little for the ordinary citizen, and it is not sustainable.
Many people were not happy with the foreign policy of the last administration. Some media outlets described President Obama’s early foreign trips as an “apology tour” and his foreign policy as weak. I disagree with the apology tour description. Under the Bush-Chaney administration we did things we should not have. We have treated many people badly, and we needed to admit these wrongs. I do feel that President Obama could have been more decisive in his foreign policy programs, and the worst example was drawing a line not to be crossed in Syria. The Russian-Syrian forces crossed that line, but nothing was done; that was a grave error. But are we more highly regarded now? At a recent international meeting, the prime ministers of Great Britain, Canada and France could be seen openly mocking our President. This does not speak well of our ability to lead.
Has the President actually supported our military? When he was elected three years ago, there was great support from the military establishment. While the military does not allow political polls to be taken of its members, the publication “Military Times” estimated that about 60% of the military (officers and enlisted personnel) were supporters. That support has dropped to about 42% in the enlisted ranks and is even lower in the officer corps. There are three reasons. One was the treatment of generals Mattis, Kelly and McMaster. Three years ago the President referred to these men as “my generals,” and now he disparages them and their service. The second reason was his abandonment of the Kurds in Syria. Saying that it was time for us to pull out of this area the President removed Army units and allowed Turkish forces to invade. A few days later the President sent additional troops into Syria to secure the oil fields. The third reason was the president’s intervention into the military justice system. Last month he issued pardons to three members of the military for violating the rules of war, which is to say war crimes. While the President had the authority to do this, intervening when he did made a mockery of the chain of command that is vital to the effective administration of the military.
These are my views on the actions of this administration, and later this year, we will see what the nation thinks.