Donald J. Trump took the oath of office of the president of the United States on January 20, and just over two months later, some, like journalist icon Dan Rather, already see him as among the worst in history. From a failed executive order and a major piece of healthcare legislation to the Russian collusion scandal and diplomacy stumbles, it appears that Trump’s first couple months as America’s leader is being viewed as the worst-ever beginning to a president’s tenure.
Dan Rather minced no words in his latest posting (March 27) on Facebook. He wrote that Donald Trump has had the worst start of any president in U.S. history.
“We’re roughly two months into the Trump Presidency, and it is the worst start to a time in office I have ever seen. I am not alone in this conclusion. Many Presidential scholars are saying it’s the worst start of any Presidency in the history of the country.”
To put his words in historical context, Rather noted that William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia just a month into his presidency in 1841, making his presidency possibly the worst in history on a personal level — but hardly on presidential office-holder level. Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president in a heated congressional battle and had political difficulties throughout his administration. But a worse start than Trump’s?
“Doubtful,” wrote Rather.
And Abraham Lincoln faced an unpopular victory to become president and then endured the secession of 13 states from the Union and a subsequent bitter civil war. (But, as Rather pointed out, Lincoln immediately began laying the foundation for reunification of the country and have what would be considered by historians as a successful and productive, albeit a fractious and trying, presidency.)
Rather admitted that some would argue that Trump is also laying the groundwork for great things to come.
“But given present evidence,” he wrote, “that’s not likely to become a widely held opinion.”
The former CBS News anchor highlighted Trump’s failures of the past week as he suggested that the president’s first two months had at times been “outrageous.”
“So after two tumultuous, chaotic and in many ways outrageous months (an embarrassing defeat on ACA repeal, the deepening Russia probe, the striking down of the travel ban) where do we stand?”
According to Dan Rather, the nation stands vulnerable due to Trump’s thus far ineffectual presence in the Oval Office as a strong policy maker. The newsman wrote that politically, the U.S. was currently in a “dangerous, very dangerous place,” which was due to a “weak President running a weak, ragtag administration,” a situation that “is a prescription for trouble.”
“Trouble internationally could come from enemies and other competitors who may see opportunities for advantage and overreach. Trouble internally could easily come from a worried, divided nation, and opportunistic ideologues and politicians who try to exploit the situation.”
Still, Rather is optimistic about America’s future — as long as the populace maintains a commitment to the core values of the nation, a “rock-hard commitment to The Constitution and to the concept of America as a new (historically) idea, the idea of a free people constantly striving for a better nation through a representative government—and trying, ever trying, to achieve liberty and justice for all citizens.” He saw the defeat of the “Trumpcare” replacement healthcare bill last week as a sign of “proof most Americans see a role of government to provide social welfare to our fellow citizens.”
Dan Rather has been a constant critic of the Trump administration, joining a media pushback against the presidency after the first week saw a decidedly hostile and confrontational stance against the press by the White House.
In early March, the former anchor wrote on Facebook (a page he started as opposition to Trump’s press and adherence to “alternative facts” policies), “The sheer level of paranoia that is radiating out of the White House is untenable to the workings of a republic.”
Speaking about President Trump’s Twitter posts wherein he accused President Obama of having Trump Tower wiretapped during his presidential campaign, Rather noted that even President Richard Nixon, arguably the most paranoid of all American presidents, had “ruled with a calm hand” for a few years. He wrote that the Trump administration’s reliance on conspiracy theories to dictate national policy was “lethal” and “socially corrosive.”
At present, President Trump also seems to be in disfavor with a majority of Americans as well. Gallup saw a 3-point rise in his approval rating this week over last (per AOL), but last week’s 37 percent is his lowest thus far. according to USA Today.
And yet it has only been a couple of months. A few political setbacks does not an administration make, and things can certainly turn around in 46 months, despite an ignoble start. And even if President Trump seems to have gotten off to a shaky beginning (and perhaps the worst start in history, which is debatable), only time will determine if the administration can gain firmer footing and tackle governance more effectively.
[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]