The Slatest

There’s No News Right Now Because Trump Doesn’t Actually Do Anything

This truck wasn’t actually moving.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump is, by various accounts including his own, currently obsessed with the idea of getting something big and splashy accomplished before April 29, the 100th day of his presidency. The good news for Trump is that he should have plenty of options. There are multiple pressing issues at the forefront of the national consciousness right now—health care, the budget/tax reform, North Korea—on which significant executive action is possible. There are also a host of issues that Trump discussed during the campaign that he could move to the front burner if he so chose—trade fairness, the Iran deal, business deregulation, the opioid crisis, veterans’ health care, Middle East peace. And there are subjects he promised earlier in his term that he’d be addressing soon, like improvements to American cybersecurity in the wake of last year’s Russia hacks, the alleged surveillance of his apartment by Barack Obama, and the millions of illegal votes he says were cast in the 2016 election.

There should be a lot going on right now. And yet I, a professional news blogger who is widely acclaimed as “the best in the biz,” cannot currently find anything national politics-related to write about, because nothing of substance is actually happening in relation to any of those issues:

  • There have been some anonymous quotes bubbling out this week about the possibility of finally getting a compromise health care bill written in the House, but there’s still no bill.
  • Trump’s next big issue is supposed to be tax reform, but the current timetable on that is that a proposal might happen next week—or might not happen next week. Who knows? Certainly not the White House.


None of this is really surprising. As has been well-documented, Trump—though he claims to be a “builder”—actually made most of his hay in the private sector by licensing his name. He’s the guy who makes big promises at the ribbon-cutting and gets the name of the project in the newspaper, not the guy who gets the permits and arranges the funding and hires the subcontractors. He doesn’t make things; he talks. (When he does try to make things, they go bankrupt.)

There are a few areas in which Trump has changed federal policy since he’s become president: He’s given ICE the go-ahead to crack down on undocumented immigrants, and he’s given the military the go-ahead to launch what appear to be riskier and larger-scale attacks than they’d been making under Obama. Both of those initiatives, though, appear to have involved simply signing off on escalations that American security forces had already planned on their own. If you bring Trump an idea, he will put his name on it try to sell it—which, as Paul Ryan’s health care bill and Steve Bannon’s travel ban have proven, does not mean that he’ll sell it effectively. But he’s not going to come up with anything on his own.

Which is probably a good thing!

*Correction, 8 p.m.: This post originally misstated that Trump signed the financial executive orders in the Oval Office. He signed them at the Treasury Department.