How locals see Trump’s first 100 days

Published 9:41 pm Friday, May 5, 2017

Over the course of his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump has been startlingly candid about his public education in the ways of Washington and the world.

He’s learned health care is complicated.

China can be a useful ally.

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And being president is hard.

Still, many residents in Brookhaven and Wesson feel that despite a tough 100 days, the president has done well in his leadership of the country.

In an unofficial poll taken by The Daily Leader, 41 percent of the readers participating gave Trump an A on the presidential report card, which was slightly more than the 37 percent who say he has failed so far as president. In between were some who straddled the fence picking grades that were not too great, not too bad, just somewhere in between.

Bob Massengill, who was Brookhaven’s mayor from 2004-09, gives him an A+.

“I think he’s done a great job,” Massengill said while out shopping with his wife, Carol. “I think he’s accomplished things that are helping businesses right now. They’re going to help people over the longer term and I think he’s going to do great, great things in the days to come.”

Massengill believes Trump was the best choice.

“It’s a shame that they measure the first 100 days because it’s hard to get a lot done through Congress in the first 100 days, but we’re going to see a lot of good things happening. I think he’s going to help an awful lot of people,” he said.

Charles Kelley, of Wesson, has a similar opinion.

“I think he’s done a good job so far,” he said. “He’s tried to keep the promises. I think part of the problem is, the Democrats, no offense intended, but it was their candidate. She lost, he won. They need to quit bad mouthing him and let him do the job he was elected to do.”

Sam Clemons, of Brookhaven, thinks the president needs to be in office a lot longer than three months before the public passes judgement on him.

“I feel like the people haven’t given him an opportunity to be the president he claimed he wanted to be,” he said. “If they allowed him get a chance to develop his administration and then maybe they would see or they need to question him on some things that he ran on and hold him to it, to give him an opportunity to fulfill it. I feel like the American people haven’t given him a full fair opportunity in the last 100 days.”

Kelly Smith, of Wesson, works at King’s Daughters Medical Center so she’s been watching with interest how the vote on the Affordable Health Care Act will play out.

She still thinks highly of the president and what he’s accomplished in his first 100 days in office.

“I think he’s done OK,” she said. “Some things I think he could have probably done better, but overall I think he’s done fine.”

Jan Thurman, of Brookhaven, is also watching the legislation to repeal “Obamacare.” “I think he’s done a great job given with what he has to deal with as far as politics and what’s been going on. I’ve been well pleased,” she said. “Obama health care still concerns me, working in health care, but it’s not an easy solution. It’s not something that can just be done, it’s not a one-size-fits-all and that’s the problem. With any plan that comes up, there’s going to be pros and cons with whatever Congress comes up with.”

Not everyone is content with the president’s job performance so far.

Tonya Anderson, of Brookhaven, isn’t thrilled at all with Trump’s performance in his 100 days.

“He’s been doing what I wouldn’t expect out of a president,” she said.

She pointed out areas in which she believes he has come up short.

“As far as I’m concerned, he was supposed to build a wall. He didn’t,” she said. “The health care bill, they passed it up the first time and then they went back and they’re going to do something about it now. He’s been on how many vacations so far? Hmmmm. More than Obama has been in the whole term that he’d been there in eight years. And he’s done racked up that money in what, less than 100 days? That goes to say, like he said, he didn’t think it was that hard, but it’s really hard. And he took it as a joke at first but now he sees it’s very serious.”

Robert “Mr. Pete” Byrd, a fixture in downtown Brookhaven, is a man of few words when it comes to praising or criticizing the president. He doesn’t care so much for what Trump has done in 100 days. He only cares about Trump’s overall performance in his full term in office. “I hope he does good,” he said.

Highlights from Trump’s first 100 days:

• Inaugural crowd size: Trump devoted much of his first day in office focused on what he deemed was unfair reporting of the turnout for his inauguration on Jan. 20.

• Travel ban: A week after taking office, Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning the resettlement of refugees in the U.S. and visits from citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries deemed security risks. The order quickly faced legal challenges and was blocked by a federal judge. Trump later put out a revised version that targeted six countries. Federal judges have blocked the vast majority of that ban as well.

• Wiretap tweet: On March 4, Trump wrote on Twitter: “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.” Trump was frustrated over reports about his advisers’ alleged ties to Russia. But his tweets only intensified focus on the issue. A spokesman for former President Barack Obama issued a denial. FBI Director James Comey and congressional and intelligence officials have said Trump’s allegation is untrue. No president can legally order a wiretap against a U.S. citizen without offering evidence. Trump later said he never meant that Obama literally had his phone tapped. “When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes,” he told Time magazine.

• Health care: Trump declared that his first step in repealing and replacing the “Obamacare” law that he had campaigned against had “brought the Republican Party together. We’re going to get this finished.” The White House and Republican leaders in the House had slowly cobbled together enough support for the legislation after House Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to pull the bill from consideration in March. But even in the final week, as Trump called on-the-fence members by phone — he told one lawmaker, “We need you, man!” — the bill stood on the brink of failure, an outcome that would have badly damaged Trump, Ryan and the party. About a month before the vote, Trump opined: “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”

• Syrian gas attack: A chemical attack that killed scores of Syrian civilians, including children, apparently helped Trump realize the weight he bears as leader of the most powerful country.

Following the April 4 attack, Trump initially blamed Obama for not acting against Syrian President Bashar Assad after Obama said the use of chemical weapons was a red line Assad should not cross. But during a news conference, Trump was asked whether he now had the responsibility to respond.

Days later, Trump ordered a barrage of Tomahawk missiles into the Syrian airfield from which the U.S. believes the deadly attack was launched.

• Gorsuch on the Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court was perhaps the biggest accomplishment in Trump’s first 100 days.

It amounted to wins in the legislative and judicial branches, energized Trump’s base and could be the achievement with the longest-lasting impact.

Gorsuch is 49 and his lifetime appointment means he could influence rulings on America’s highest court for decades.  The former judge on the Denver-based U.S. appeals court became the fifth conservative-leaning judge on the nine-member court. Elevating Gorsuch came with a price.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had to change Senate rules to allow Gorsuch and future Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed with just a simple majority vote in the 100-member Senate, instead of 60. Gorsuch was confirmed by a vote of 54-45 vote.