NEW YORK: I’m writing this on April 28, a day shy of President Donald Trump’s 100 days in office. But as Charles Schultz said, ‘Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.’ I just checked the time in Australia: it’s 12:48 a.m., April 29. So I’m good. It’s impossible to predict what Trump may tweet a few hours from now, to herald the important landmark of his dictating terms in the White House. It may offend some, please others.
On the negative side, Trump has failed on several fronts, suffered reverses and lost credibility on controversial issues.
Trump’s eagerness to impose a travel ban on visitors from some Muslim-majority countries boomeranged. Several courts threw out his overreach that smacked of impunity. Obamacare is still intact; Trump’s hastily-conjured version faced a rout in the House of Representatives, or at least would have, if Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t pull it out in time. The estimated $12-21 billion border wall has been pushed back, perhaps banished from implementation in the near future – after all, it’s that or the government shuts down midnight today for lack of funds.
Diplomacy was going to be Trump’s Achilles heel, and those suspicions – which even the illiterate could gauge from Trump’s lambasting and mocking countries on the campaign trail, without going through the latest edition of Foreign Policy magazine – have proved to be not totally unfounded.
World leaders don’t quite know how to greet, meet and laugh with Trump. If they get to do so at all, remain queasy with him, unsure what to expect the next minute.
Germany’s Angela Markel was denied even a handshake; Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull got a dressing down on phone over a contentious refugee resettlement accord. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen had a “beautiful” conversation with Trump days after he was elected, but won’t have that pleasure again as Trump said he doesn’t want to speak to her again, citing his “good, personal relationship” with China’s Xi Jinping. Mind you, on Trump’s campaign trail, you would have been forgiven if you thought China was America’s bitter enemy, the “currency manipulator”.
Poor Marine Le Pen of France waited for days to meet Trump in New York, but was denied even a wave at him. But imagine her surprise when on the eve of France’s primaries earlier this week, Trump endorsed her. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto didn’t take any chances after his first meeting with Trump eroded his credibility: he canceled a second meeting with Trump earlier this year.
But beyond all the glaring loopholes in the Trump presidency, one thing that’s been established is that Trump is trying hard to do in his own style what he promised on the campaign trail, of ‘Make America Great Again’. Liberals hate him; but will acknowledge it’s the reason he won the elections: the lower and middle class American voters have imposed their trust in him also to bring change; create jobs, boost the economy, curb immigration.
President Barack Obama was a failure on immigration issues. He never pushed hard to reform it. In his eight years in office legal immigration issues festered, became a total mess, was allegedly gamed by some big Indian IT companies. The lottery system for the H-1B visa became the standard despite the skewed demand/supply ratio, with an unfair veil of secrecy behind the whole procedure.
The wait time for a Green Card for skilled workers in the EB-3 and EB-2 categories shot up by decades. For all his assurances, Obama did nothing in his two terms for hardworking skilled legal immigrants who played by the rules but are waiting endlessly for permanent residency. Yes, Obama did give relief to some H-4 visa holders, by granting them work permit. That remains his biggest achievement for legal immigration. It remains to be seen if Trump will snatch that away.
Trump in his first three months has already taken strong steps on illegal immigration, stepped up deportations. He has also passed executive orders to fix legal immigration, by reforming the H-1B visa, paving the way for immigration based on merit. To really stamp his mark on the issue of legal immigration, and get approval from tens of thousands of new voters in the offing – which will be a boost to Republicans down the road – Trump needs to urge legislation this year to fix the issue of stagnation of Green Card for skilled Indian nationals, as compared to workers from other countries.
Unlike Obama, Trump has not backed away from taking strong but necessary steps against villains in Syria and Afghanistan, not blinking or thinking of the consequences, or his relationship with Putin and Russia. The world was shocked, but felt helpless by the images of innocent children who were victims of the chemical bomb attacks by Assad in Syria. Trump must be lauded for doing the right thing, by bombing Syria, sending a message that further such acts of inhumanity will not be tolerated.
Trump also did the right thing by bombing a zone in Afghanistan occupied by terrorist organizations, curbed their abilities to foster more evil. The significance of that would not be lost on ISIS. They know what’s coming for them soon.
Trump’s move to curb North Korea’s nuclear bomb aspirations must be supported by allies, including India. The world will be a safer place if the maniac Kim Jong-un is displaced from office; and North Korea’s aspirations to start a nuclear holocaust erased. It was stupid for the world to wait and watch all these years as North Korea went about perfecting their nuclear arsenal. It’s time to put an end to it.
Coming back to the domestic front, Trump has in only three months initiated several important plans, including, to reduce individual and corporate taxes, start infrastructure projects. Both are at a nascent stage. But he’s on the right track. Americans support him on these two initiatives. If indeed, all goes according to plan, the economy would be infused with vigorous growth. Trump will be hailed as a visionary President.
If it doesn’t work, Trump may not last in office more than one term.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)